Imagine It

your Profile PhotoThis post by Jennifer Flaten

For as much as I read, I am not that good at writing descriptive passages myself.

Actually, that applies to telling stories too, I can see the picture in my head, but getting words out is hard.

Here is a perfect example, in sixth grade a male friend of mine confessed he had a crush on one of my friends. I said I would talk to my friend and let her know that he liked her. So on the bus that night I told Tori that Chris liked her.

Her first question “what is he like”

Okay I could see exactly what Chris looked like in my head; but my answer? “Well, he’s wearing a red coat”.

She gave me a disgusted look and said “That’s not what I meant”. Yes, I suppose it wasn’t. Too bad she couldn’t see my mental image.

I still struggle with that to this day, for characters I am writing about I can see them clearly in my head, but I just can’t seem to get that to translate onto the paper.

Is describing characters easy for you or do you struggle like me?

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9 Responses to Imagine It

  1. Travis says:

    I don’t use too much descriptions on characters outside of size and an article (or two) of clothing. Unless it is necessary, I try to keep race out as well. I hope dialog and actions will portray the characters enough and readers can come up with their own images.

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  2. Doris says:

    What description I use is pretty easy. It just sorta flows. But being an actor and speaker, words flow pretty easily anyway. Doris

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  3. Mike Staton says:

    I think the action my characters undertake as well as their dialogue reveal their personalities beyond the obvious physical descriptions.

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  4. Being visually impaired, I often have difficulty writing descriptions. I hate to say this, but it makes me feel better to know someone with good eyes has the same problem, that it’s not limited to those who don’t see very well.

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  5. I tend to be like the others, describe a character by their dialogue and actions. I’ll sometimes add something noteworthy, like they have muscles or are pasty and scrawny. But I’m worse with describing setting and surroundings. That’s also the parts of books I tend to skip over, especially if they’re overly detailed.

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  6. I use description a lot in my work because my dogs don’t talk and I keep people in the background on purpose. So I need setting and action to be at the forefront, and that includes a lot of description. However, the new old work I am planning to pick up again one day is focused primarily on people with the animals as part of the plot so I’ll see what new struggles I’ll run into as it’s a new genre for me.

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  7. Nancy Jardine says:

    If I don’t have a clear mental image of my character, I download an image of someone close to what I want my person to be like and use that for inspiration when writing any descriptive passages.

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  8. Describing my characters is easy for me. Like you, I get a mental picture and make a list of the mundane things and then the way they speak or move, until I have formed exactly the character I want. I find writing the attributes down helps me create better than trying to do it with my memory.

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  9. S J Brown says:

    I tend to abbreviate descriptions a bit when I write. I tend to gloss over find long drawn out descriptions when I read so I try not to overdue it when I write. Recently I had a friend read a manuscript I had recently finished. Her only complaint was I didn’t describe the setting enough. She wanted to know more about the surroundings. So I guess that is something we both need to work on.

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