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Friday, August 17, 2007

Character description – emotional reaction

Instead of just describing a person, you might want to think about integrating the description with the point of view character’s emotions in reaction.

For example, rather than:

The tall blonde walked into the room, a scarlet dress swirling around her long legs. A man near the bar turned to look at her. Charlene sat at her table and stared at the strange woman.

You can instead write:

Charlene started and sat up at her table as the tall woman swept into the room. The stranger tossed her blonde hair in a flirtatious gesture, calculated to make the men at the bar look at her. Hussy. She’d probably chosen that red dress because the side had a slit up to her hip, revealing more leg than was decent.

Or

Charlene looked up as the tall woman swept into the room. She had gorgeous blonde hair—Charlene would have killed for that long and heavy mass down her back. Her scarlet dress swirled around her body, giving tantalizing glimpses at long, slim legs that Charlene could never have no matter how many hours she spent on the ellipsis machine. The man at the bar glanced at the woman, whereas he hadn’t even bothered to lift his eyes from his beer when Charlene had bumped into him earlier. Charlene sighed. She’d never command a room the way this woman did.

Go through your own manuscript, looking specifically for several sentences of character description. Rewrite them, integrating the viewpoint character’s emotions in response to the description.

2 comments:

  1. Good stuff. I labor over things like, how much to include or is shorter better. I'm never happy with what I write. Help!!

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  2. Tim, my opinion is that shorter is better. Then, give your chapters to a critique group and if they're confused about anything, you can add more information. Usually I find that readers don't need to know everything or they can figure things out pretty easily.
    Camy

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