Friday, March 16, 2012

But what does he look like?

As I was rambling about over on Twitter today, I have a problem with descriptions.

If you are familiar with older romance novels, you've probably come across a scene where the heroine looks into a mirror while she brushes her hair or does her makeup, or perhaps takes a moment to consider her reflection in a shop window. She will linger over the color of her hair or her clothing or how her eyes are remarkably blue but she always looks at the ground and no one sees them ...etc. etc.

I have always found those scenes strange. I know they're there so the reader knows what the heroine looks like, but they have always felt uncomfortable and forced to me. Maybe because I've never sat in front of a mirror and described myself to myself. More likely, because unless a character is a complete standout in a crowd, I'm not all that concerned about what they look like.

I  prefer to build characters from what they say and do and how they act. I put pieces together in my mind as I read along. Unless it's mentioned repeatedly, I probably don't know for sure what color a character's eyes are. If it is mentioned repeatedly, I hope it's important to some part of the story.

The point is, I'm not great at making sure that people know what my characters look like. Especially the men.

And on a day like to day, when I'm trying to fill out a cover art sheet for The Dragon Undone (so that it can be used if and when the Kickstarter project funds), that is problematic.

Do you want the author to tell you what a character looks like? Does it matter to you? Enquiring minds want to know.

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