Monday, September 3, 2012

A Conveniently Placed Mirror

Jenny of The Penslayer has all of us writers on a character description rush. How do we describe our characters? The thought is exciting... and alarming.

For me, well... I'll admit it just as everyone else on blogger is admitting it: I've never thought description my strong point. No, rather I've been told and I believe that my strongest point is dialogue. Making people talk is a whole lot easier than saying what they look like.

But every good writer must describe her characters, so I got out my handy-dandy, 126-page-long (that's 126 printed computer pages from Open Office Writer, by the way, not 126 pages the size of a Boxcar Children book), work-in-progress manuscript for Children of a Legend from which I hoped to pull swell descriptions with which to amaze you all. I mean, surely there must be some character description in 126 pages, right? Right! (cue John Lawless) Wrong! Sort of.

I discovered that I really don't describe my main characters. At least, not like most authors do with a conveniently placed mirror right at the beginning of the story. In fact, I'm more of the person who detests describing her characters right in the first paragraph of the story with the before mentioned mirror. For characters that are a big part of the story, I tend to drop little descriptions here and there, and not a whole lot at once, so it's awful hard to give you all a paragraph of what I say they all look like. However, here are some of my favorite descriptions of minor characters:

A beefy boy of about ten had his feet propped up on the counter, which despite its many holes, surprisingly held his weight. Crumbs littered his tunic and were scattered beneath his chair. On his broad stomach sat a jar of jelly and a half eaten biscuit. A large straw hat covered his face, and Davin wasn't sure if the boy was sleeping or watching them through the woven fibers. 
Children of a Legend

This here is Hawend Horradiff Humjaspoke, son of Mistress Henriah Hillaborthy Humjaspoke (yeah, I had fun coming up with those names) who owns (according to the sign) the neW Bonnie In Ov MArRDiD.

When, at last, Davin thought he would burst from the waiting, Rodnal walked around the corner of the barn, leading a young woman by the hand. She was slender, and her long brown hair hung in waves around her shoulders, partially covering the bodice of the plain blue dress she wore. Her face was lit with a beautiful smile, and nothing could disguise the happiness in her expression.
Children of a Legend

This is Rayne... She's actually more of a main character, so I guess this could be counted as a main character description, not a minor character description. Anywho... 

Standing in the designated doorway was a young man wearing a sleeveless leather tunic. His body glistened with sweat, and he routinely reached up to push his thick brown hair out of his face. But it was the eyes that caught Davin's attention. They were deep blue and looked exactly like... Father's eyes
Children of a Legend

This nameless young man is a fighter in the barracks of East Delt and happens to be someone whom Davin and Brice run across on their journeys. Actually, he has a name. And it's a boy's name, too. :) Okay, fine! His name's Grant. 

Alright, let's switch and go to The Twelfth Kingdom for a bit. This story, I found, I actually did a bit more of main character description in paragraphs, so here you go:

The rain mixed with the tears on J's face as she started for home. As she crossed over an intersection of streets, she stopped at the edge of a large puddle. Though raindrops scarred the image, J could see her own face mirrored in the puddle. The blue eyes that B said she had memorized gazed back at J sadly. Dirty, brown hair tumbled around her shoulders in an undignified way, framing a face that hadn't had a good washing in weeks. A ripped and stained dress clung to J's skinny body, and her unraveling sweater did little to fend off the cold.
The Twelfth Kingdom 

This, my friends, is my main character, J, and how she sees herself. Puddles can work the same as mirrors, no? However, unlike your conveniently placed mirror, this puddle doesn't show up until the end of chapter three. Actually, this description was a harder one for me to pen, as J's hair color keeps changing on me. Sometimes it's brown, other times it's a dirty blonde. And I cannot find a real, live pic of someone else to cast as J because I myself am not really certain what she looks like. *sigh* This is what happens to writers, folks.

Josette had often heard Princess Simeanna called the most beautiful of all the princesses, and now with Simeanna standing in front of her, she could hardly doubt the opinion of so many in Tellorn. Although she was just barely younger than Reuthellen, Simeanna carried herself with a graceful power that was impossible to mistake. Golden hair cascaded down over her shoulders, complemented perfectly by the gold trim on her simply, but elegantly, styled gown. Her hands were delicate, but firm, and at the moment, as she surveyed Josette, they were folded resolutely across her chest.
Beside her, slightly shorter, but no less commanding, was Princess Aleevity. Her hair, the darkest shade of black that Josette had ever seen, was wrapped into a thick bun on her head, and her eyes darted about like those of a cat, blue green and sharp. She looked down at Josette over the end of her prim nose.
The Twelfth Kingdom

Simeanna and Aleevity are two of the princesses in TK, and I find myself, while writing about them, seeing Lavinia and Jesse from A Little Princess. So, you can just imagine what this pair is like.

God bless!


  1. Hey, don't sweat not using a mirror! Most people frown on it.

    These are all lovely, by the way.

  2. I actually enjoy writing descriptions and have a tendency to put too much in!

    HHH is hilarious!!!

    Twelfth Kingdom is really starting to interest me, Kiri...!

    Good job on all of them, dear!