This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (blog.janicehardy.com).
Today’s assignment is to know what my characters look like and see if I need to add or strengthen their descriptions as they are introduced. I also need to revise any clichéd or stereotypical images and trim any extraneous description.
My protagonist and antagonist are easy to describe, as I have become intimately familiar with them. Some important secondary characters, however, need a little tweaking. Since I hope this book will be the first of a trilogy, it is important for me to know what these characters look like as well so they are consistent from one book to another.
I did discover that some of my descriptions were stereotypical, such as the overweight, balding, small-town Mayor, and the dark, brooding evil antagonist. In previous stories I selected pictures off the Internet (mostly celebrities) that reflected the mental image I had of each character. (Also helpful if movie rights are bought!) In this case, however, I did not do that, so before I move ahead, that is something I will do.
Results: Rather than having any extraneous descriptions, I tend to use as little as possible and let the reader create their own images. I need to balance this with enough description to give the reader a clue about the character.
If you don’t use a lot of character descriptions in your story, it is still important to know in your mind what they look like. Descriptions can be how another character, such as the POV person, sees them. Any description should be relevant, such as lithe legs on a ballerina or sculpted abs on a fitness trainer. The reader doesn’t need to know that the ballerina has fine hair or the fitness trainer has big feet, unless it adds to the story in some way.
See you on the next page.