The Jane Doe Novel Experiment

Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.

How to Avoid Writing Boring Descriptions – Pt. 1: Characters

Our books are full of descriptions. Sometimes, they are a poetry on the page and a joy to write. Sometimes, they are simply a necessary evil.  Here are some tips to help liven up any description in order to keep your readers’ attention and to keep the descriptions from being, well, boring.

In this series, I’ll show you two samples from my own writings. One will be the “standard” or “boring” description. The other will be the more engaging description with the suggestion in mind. I will not immediately tell you which is which.  If this is done right, the more interesting one will be apparent on its own. ^.^ The sample sentences come from my novel, Enough for Four, chapter 1. (You can read it here: http://wp.me/p2sDTP-47 or listen to it here: http://wp.me/p2sDTP-5I)

In Part 1, We Will Focus on your Character’s Physical Appearance

How do you describe your characters’ physical appearance to your readers? Do you try to avoid running down police report stats: 5″6, green eyes, 106 lbs, brown hair, black eyes…etc?  Instead, we can present our characters in a way not only engages the reader, but that accomplishes a few goals:

1) Describes the character’s physical appearance. (That’s a given! ^.^)

2) Describes the person’s mood.

3) Gives background information.

4) Moves the story along.

Suggestion 1: Describe your character’s appearance in action/in connection to an emotion.

Comparison 1: His lips were currently pressed together in disgust but their fullness was not compromised.

Comparison 2: He had beautiful, full lips.

Which do you like better? My favorite is #1. We see action! He is pressing his lips together. We see emotion! He is pressing them together because he is disgusted. We see shape! They are still full, despite being pressed together.

Suggestion 2: Give background information pertaining to your character’s appearance.

Comparison 1: Ava, although thin and a petite five-five, had “something to hold on to.”  The little fat she had on her body went directly to the right places. Her shape curved like an hourglass.

Comparison 2: Ava, although thin and a petite five-five, had “something to hold on to,” as Carson use to tease her back in the days when he couldn’t get enough of her. The little fat she had on her body went directly to the right places. When their marriage had been sexual, he could spend hours sliding down every one of her curves.

Which was your pick? This time, #2 stood out for me. We have a lot of information to put into 90,000 – 100,000 words. Seems like plenty of space, but to fill it up with redundant information will make it a hard read. Even separating the information at times can take away from the joy of reading it together. As in the below with the same example.

Comparison 1: Ava, although thin and a petite five-five, had “something to hold on to.”  The little fat she had on her body went directly to the right places. Her shape curved like an hourglass. In the past, Carson couldn’t get enough of her. When their marriage had been sexual, he could spend hours sliding down every one of her curves.

Comparison 2: Ava, although thin and a petite five-five, had “something to hold on to,” as Carson use to tease her back in the days when he couldn’t get enough of her. The little fat she had on her body went directly to the right places. When their marriage had been sexual, he could spend hours sliding down every one of her curves.

Are either of these “wrong”? Of course not! But, does #2 present the same information in a more interesting light? Does it flow better? #1 presents the information as A, B, C, then D refers to A and E refers to C. Whereas 2, the information is nicely intertwined with each other.

Suggestion 3: Show the affect your character’s appearance has on another character.

Comparison 1: However, due to the fullness of her bottom, the material in the back raised to mid-calf.  As Lily took in the view, her lower lip once again found itself getting nibbled.

Comparison 2: However, due to the fullness of her bottom, the material in the back raised to mid-calf.

Your pick? Mine is #2. Just kidding! #1. In context, Lily nibbles on her lower lip when she is aroused. To describe Ava’s backside is one thing. To let us know that Lily finds it attractive and arousing adds dimension to both Ava’s description and Lily’s personality.

Those are a few of my suggestions (not rules!) to help spice up your character’s physical description. Do you have any? Please feel free to add them to the conversation via a comment below!

Next week: Describing locations!

All samples all come from my novel, Enough for Four, chapter 1. You can listen to it here: or listen to it here: http://wp.me/p2sDTP-5I or you can read it here: http://wp.me/p2sDTP-47

Advertisements

Leave your thoughts on the above, below. ^.^

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Join 63 other followers

Follow the Experiment on Facebook

http://facebook.com/authorjanedoe

Email the Experiment

Comments, questions, and simple "hello's" are always welcome and always replied to. ^.^ authorjanedoeblog@gmail.com

Follow the Experiment on Twitter

Past Experiments

New Chapter Countdown

7th Release Date!August 13th, 2012
Chapter 6 is here! - Enough for Four

New Chapter Countdown

6th Release Date!August 6th, 2012
Chapter 5, Part 2 is here!
%d bloggers like this: