Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Do I need to describe my character? (Anna Staniszewski)

When it comes to physical description in stories, I tend to go with the "less is more" approach. For secondary characters, I'll give a few defining features to help get the readers' imaginations going. But when it comes to main characters, I tend to avoid physical description all-together. Why? Well, as a reader, I like imagining characters any way I want to. So I guess this is my attempt to give my readers that same freedom.

Ironically, after all the time I spent not describing my main character in My Very UnFairy Tale Life, I then got a book cover that shows the main character front and center. I must say, though, that if I did have to have a photo of my main character on the cover, I'm glad it's a girl that looks a lot like what I was imagining.


Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against physical description. Sometimes it's quite necessary in order to convey something about the character. For example, I just finished reading Every Day by David Levithan (a fantastic book!) about a character who jumps from body to body on a daily basis. In that story, physical description is absolutely necessary in order to differentiate the various people the protagonist inhabits.


How about you? Do you like the freedom of imagining characters however you want, or do you prefer physical description to be more concrete?

13 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I definitely agree that less is more. I like your take on your MC. You're making me think and that's hard to do. lol

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    1. Haha, sorry to have to make you think. :-)

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  2. It doesn't bother me either way. Sometimes the style of writing or the story calls for it; other times it's completely unnecessary. I go with the bare minimum.

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    1. Absolutely. It really depends on the type of story, the type of character, and many other factors.

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  3. My imagination works better with less description. Too much description makes me struggle to get the correct image in my head, especially when it comes to clothing. ^_^

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    1. I feel the same way! It's a fine balance between too much and not enough description.

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  4. I like it when there is minimal physical description of characters and I can imagine them the way I want to.

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    1. It gives you so much freedom, doesn't it? I love that feeling.

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  5. My work has always been pretty descriptive...But I love the idea of remembering that the reader should have their own input--in some ways, the reader almost becomes a co-author!

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    1. Yes! It definitely is a collaboration between writer and reader.

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  6. I'm growing into using quirky description. Adding those details that are used to describe my character vs. any person. I had a lot of fun playing with this in my second book.

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    1. That's a great point. You want to highlight the unique, quirky things that make the character unlike anyone else.

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  7. I like minimal description. Just enough to spark my own imagination. That's how I write, as well.

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