First  Prev  1  2  Next  Last
Post Reply I am terrible at describing a character's appearance
38502 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
32 / M / Usually right und...
Online
Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18
There's that word again, "cliché"...
Clichés, tropes or genre staples, call them what you will but in essence they're the building blocks of a narrative.
In this day and age it's bordering on impossible to spin a story made up of entirely new and original blocks. And there's no shame in utilizing blocks that have been used before, it all comes down to how you use them.
In using a cliché in your narrative you have a number of options, you can play it straight, subvert it, lampshade or parody it.
Choose an option that fits you and your narrative and you can come away with a story that doesn't feel any weaker for having used a cliché.

I still greatly enjoy stories that are in essence reimaginations of the same centuries old fable with most of the associated trappings kept intact. Not all of them end up being good stories but enough do that I don't dismiss a new story as "not this again" just because of the raw building blocks involved in its creation. There are authors that can take all of the same basic ingredients and cook up a story that feels unique to them.

Don't stall your progress because you're afraid the building blocks you have at your disposal are cliché, instead find a way to fit them into your narrative so they become something more than the sum of their parts. Make them your own.
Not relying on what's been done before is fine, shying away from it completely will give you issues when you realize that with the sheer number of stories in existence chances are it's all been done before in some way or another.
50031 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / F / New Jersey, USA
Offline
Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

mfritsch wrote:

There's that word again, "cliché"...
Clichés, tropes or genre staples, call them what you will but in essence they're the building blocks of a narrative.
In this day and age it's bordering on impossible to spin a story made up of entirely new and original blocks. And there's no shame in utilizing blocks that have been used before, it all comes down to how you use them.
In using a cliché in your narrative you have a number of options, you can play it straight, subvert it, lampshade or parody it.
Choose an option that fits you and your narrative and you can come away with a story that doesn't feel any weaker for having used a cliché.

I still greatly enjoy stories that are in essence reimaginations of the same centuries old fable with most of the associated trappings kept intact. Not all of them end up being good stories but enough do that I don't dismiss a new story as "not this again" just because of the raw building blocks involved in its creation. There are authors that can take all of the same basic ingredients and cook up a story that feels unique to them.

Don't stall your progress because you're afraid the building blocks you have at your disposal are cliché, instead find a way to fit them into your narrative so they become something more than the sum of their parts. Make them your own.
Not relying on what's been done before is fine, shying away from it completely will give you issues when you realize that with the sheer number of stories in existence chances are it's all been done before in some way or another.


You're right.

I mentioned cliche because I don't want to show a character's appearance's in my paragraph on how great or how not so great he or she looks by saying something that has been said countless of times.

Like a character looks so pretty like a porcelain doll.
50031 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / F / New Jersey, USA
Offline
Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18
Thanks for comments, cool people!
16510 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
26 / M
Offline
Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

qualeshia3 wrote:


mfritsch wrote:

There's that word again, "cliché"...
Clichés, tropes or genre staples, call them what you will but in essence they're the building blocks of a narrative.
In this day and age it's bordering on impossible to spin a story made up of entirely new and original blocks. And there's no shame in utilizing blocks that have been used before, it all comes down to how you use them.
In using a cliché in your narrative you have a number of options, you can play it straight, subvert it, lampshade or parody it.
Choose an option that fits you and your narrative and you can come away with a story that doesn't feel any weaker for having used a cliché.

I still greatly enjoy stories that are in essence reimaginations of the same centuries old fable with most of the associated trappings kept intact. Not all of them end up being good stories but enough do that I don't dismiss a new story as "not this again" just because of the raw building blocks involved in its creation. There are authors that can take all of the same basic ingredients and cook up a story that feels unique to them.

Don't stall your progress because you're afraid the building blocks you have at your disposal are cliché, instead find a way to fit them into your narrative so they become something more than the sum of their parts. Make them your own.
Not relying on what's been done before is fine, shying away from it completely will give you issues when you realize that with the sheer number of stories in existence chances are it's all been done before in some way or another.


You're right.

I mentioned cliche because I don't want to show a character's appearance's in my paragraph on how great or how not so great he or she looks by saying something that has been said countless of times.

Like a character looks so pretty like a porcelain doll.


I think if a character looks like a porcelain doll, there isn't really anything wrong with describing them that way. I've described a character as porcelain before, but that description comes with more than just beauty. It also largely brings a fragility with it, a sense of class and often a bit of a feeling that the face they are putting on is a facade. You can bring different things out of these words by how you use them and what you surround them with.

I think your prime concern should be evoking the imagery you are setting out for. If you find a different, more unique way of expressing that idea, feel free to put it in, but don't worry too much about those little cliches, especially on your first draft.
50031 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / F / New Jersey, USA
Offline
Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

sundin13 wrote:

I think if a character looks like a porcelain doll, there isn't really anything wrong with describing them that way. I've described a character as porcelain before, but that description comes with more than just beauty. It also largely brings a fragility with it, a sense of class and often a bit of a feeling that the face they are putting on is a facade. You can bring different things out of these words by how you use them and what you surround them with.

I think your prime concern should be evoking the imagery you are setting out for. If you find a different, more unique way of expressing that idea, feel free to put it in, but don't worry too much about those little cliches, especially on your first draft.



I guess but I feel like it's been used so many times. But I shouldn't worry about things like that.

Thank you.
38502 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
32 / M / Usually right und...
Online
Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18
It has been a while since I've dabbled in character descriptions for anyone that wasn't a creation I intimitely knew but let's see if i can shake off enough rust to make my point, or at least make a decent attempt at it.

The statement that a character looks like a porcelain doll can evoke different images depending on how you frame it so let's try two different rough drafts.





The point I'm trying to make being don't worry if a description has been used a hundred times before, just frame it in a way it fits your character.
Apologies for the half-baked prose, it's all I could muster on short notice.
50031 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / F / New Jersey, USA
Offline
Posted 3/16/18 , edited 3/17/18



They sound really good to me. Thanks a bunch. I'll do my best to or at least try to.
136 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
33 / F / Houston, TX
Offline
Posted 3/22/18 , edited 3/22/18
One of the things I always say when I get a description for a character is to stat them out (aka do a character profile) in notes first, and then weave in the details as you go in the actual narrative. That way you have how they look in your mind and can reference the notes sheet if necessary as you're writing.

Example:
Fatima replaced her purple glasses on her dusky skinned face and regarded the man before her with a sigh. This meeting with the client wasn't going as well as she'd hoped and it was taking most of her mental fortitude to not start yelling in rage.

"Tell me again why you wanted our law firm's help?" She said in Arabic and crossed her arms over her red and black tunic that she liked to wear to work.

"Aren't you supposed to get anyone into the visa program? i just want my son to find a new life in the states," the man in the black short gabalaya set said, also in Arabic.

"I can't do that, since we've done the research on him and he's wanted for terrorism in Jordan," Fatima said and pushed a dark brown hair out of her face. "The state department has rules that we have to follow, and I'd be risking my shot at making my bar if I did put in the paperwork behind Robert's back."

The man leered. "Stupid woman, I could have bought this place out if it were back at home."

"We're done here. I'll let Robert know you visited, but that you tried to bribe me, the translator. If you ever cross my path with that misogyny again, your son's future will be the least of your worries." The look in her brown eyes was positively feral, almost like a cat's as she got up and left the conference room. She'd have to hunt a secret and some rabbits in feline form after work. First, though, was letting the NSA agents that had shown up know where this known opiate ringleader was in the office before submitting the report to Robert.
10432 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
Offline
Posted 3/24/18 , edited 3/24/18
Something I've noticed in the novels I own is that a character's appearance isn't described in a lot of detail. Just the major points immediately noticeable (hair colour, any bright or strange clothing, unusual height or weight or age). I don't think you need to give a detailed description of a character, even if you have a full one noted down or in memory.

I would, and this is purely my own uninformed opinion, hit the main points on initial meeting, put other distinguishing points later in the story when the context allows it ("police are on the lookout for-").

The guy above saying describe how to feel about the description seems to have a good idea as well. Don't say your heroine is beautiful, describe how her best features look in a natural and positive manner. Or contrast it up. If a heroine has vibrant copper hair, but she's coming down with flu when you introduce her to the reader have someone note she looks ill because her hair is dull. That'll let the reader know that when she's not sick she'll have brighter hair colour.
2439 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
34 / F / Maryland
Offline
Posted 3/24/18 , edited 3/24/18
I've always had that issue, myself. Especially if they are an average looking person with no real defining traits like a tattoo or a scar. I have quite a range of different characters in the novel series I'm writing. Some are easy to describe and others are not. Maybe try with the basics. Hair, eye color. Are they skinny or bigger. Then add from there to differentiate. Also give each character equal treatment. Describing a paragraph for one beautiful girl over another main character might seem unbalanced.

Am I making any sense?
First  Prev  1  2  Next  Last
You must be logged in to post.