Saturday, September 1, 2012

Word Portraits

My drawing of Robin
Fellow author and blogger Jenny Freitag has posted a challenge to post how you describe characters ... so ... I'm participating.

I personally consider descriptions my weakness, but she says she doesn't care how good or bad they are. To quote, "Give me your Rembrants and your Beatrix Potters."

So ... I'll dig some of my best descriptions out of my work and post them ...

Most of my descriptions tend to be comparisons:

The two of them were almost identical, the difference being that Robin was a girl, and Robert was a guy. They both had the same brown hair, although Robin’s was quite a bit longer, the same brown eyes, and the same olive complexions. Even now, it was impossible to mistake the two of them for anything but brother and sister.
- Sew, It's a Quest

Or contrasts:

She was perfectly beautiful – alabaster skin despite how much time she spent in the sun, big blue eyes, golden hair that fell in perfect waves almost to her feet. Compare that to me – I have frizzy brown hair that tangles something awful, too many freckles to count, and my blue eyes (which are nowhere near the size of hers) are hidden behind a thick pair of glasses. Add to that the fact she had a perfect singing voice and I only croaked … well … you can see why I was jealous.
- The Ankulen

It was almost comical. Shira, who was barely four foot nine, a slip of a girl, pinning Robin, who was five foot four, and rather muscular from all her sword practice, to the wall. 
- Do You Take this Quest?

I simply find comparrison/contrast a very good medium for description. It not only describes, but can also provide motive or express emotion at the same time, and describes two or more characters in one fell swoop.

Of course, the rule for descriptions is to not use the cliche mirror ...

Clara stared at herself for a second. “That’s me?” she asked. The girl she saw in the mirror looked like a princess. Her hair was pulled up elegantly, and a silver circlet was on her brow. The dress she wore was the same blue as her eyes, and very fine, and well embroidered. It brought out the blue of her almond-shaped eyes perfectly. Clara was one-fourth Chinese, but the only way you could tell it was the fact that her eyes were slanted, and the fact that she was not even five feet tall. The corset did, indeed, improve her posture, and make her look thinner. “Maybe I ought to let you do my hair tomorrow.”
- Water Princess, Fire Prince

Umm ... yeah. Actually that one breaks the rule. Having her look in the mirror was actually an essential part of that scene, and I merely used it as an opportunity to describe her as I had not, yet, described her.

Hmmm ... let's see if I can did out any more good descriptions ...

I looked up to see a young boy standing in the middle of the creek. He was dressed like Robin Hood, complete with a felt hat with a yellow feather in it. In his hand was a sword, a sharp looking sword, and strapped to his back was a bow and a quiver full of arrows – all of which looked plenty sharp as well.
- The Ankulen


  1. I know people say using mirrors is cliche, but with description sometimes it is necessary. I think I have one or two in Plenilune myself. Anyway, I wouldn't fret about it too much.

    My favourite piece of description was the first contrasting piece taken from The Ankulen. It gives an instant sense of sympathy for the narrator (who wants to be showed up by someone really pretty?) and it also reminds me of Meg Murray and her mother, from A Wrinkle In Time. Which is always fun to be reminded of. :) Good job!

    1. I agree that the mirror is not ususable, it just has to be handled so that it sounds natural. Don't go out of your way to find a mirror, let the mirror come to you.

      And I find it interesting that that particular description is your favorite. The narrator's name is Jen/ny/ifer. And, yes, I was reminded of Meg while writing it.


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...