Character Imagery

Hi guys! Because I’m really tired, and I haven’t written in a while and am currently distracted, this post may be just a little bit fragmented. Apologies ahead of time, or whatever that sentence should actually be.

Sooooo today, character imagery! How do you make your characters look good to the reader – by showing, not telling.

Think of the most cliche way to describe a character in a book. For me, I think it would be describing in front a mirror, you know; the ‘I looked at my less-than-average features. Long, slick brown hair, piercing blue eyes. My nose was average, petite. I had a smattering of freckles over the top of them. I was an average height,’ etc etc etc. And then you have the cliche ‘I was less than average’, because, actually, they’re quite pretty.

So, how to do it better? First of all, don’t use a mirror scene. Second of all, drop hints. For example: “I hit my head on the bus roof on the top deck, and rubbed it as I sat in the seat, having to sit sideways because bus companies didn’t think that there were tall people in the world,” tells you that the character is, perhaps, a bit more than average tall, and is, perhaps, a bit bitter about it. Or, “As I was running, I pushed a spare strand of light brown hair from my eyes that had missed my grasp, and tucked it behind my ears,” this tells you that she has over than shoulder length light brown hair. ‘How do you know it’s more than shoulder length?’ you ask. – Because it ‘missed [her] grasp’ – meaning that the rest of her hair is tied up. Hehe, call me Sherlock Holmes. 🙂

So yeah, I hope that helped. If you don’t know how to describe your characters, then why not draw them, or, if you really really can’t draw, try a website called Doll Divine and find a decent ‘doll maker’ to design your character on, then just draw your imagery from them; although, no offense, if it’s your character, you should know them well enough to not even have to get up a picture of them to find out. – So you need to make sure you do your planning well.

If you’re planning, get a sheet, or something – and fill each thing in detail. For example, in hair, make sure you do the colour as exact as you can, the length (eg, it was down to her armpit), where the hairline sits, etc.

And if you’re a bit skeptical about using a design thing called ‘Doll Divine’, especially if you’re a guy, then have a look at some of these below, of my characters. If you click on the picture, it’ll link you to the maker. 🙂

Questions, guys? Shoot. Hope this helped.

Alice Frost :)
Alice Frost. 🙂
Janie Harrington. :)
Janie Harrington. 🙂
Leah - although she actually has already died in the book...
Leah – although she actually has already died in the book…
'The Gang' - not the best maker for my characters on this one, for example, both Oscar and Janie have fringes - but it'll do until I can draw them. L-R: Oscar, Scott, Janie & Alice.
‘The Gang’ – not the best maker for my characters on this one, for example, both Oscar and Janie have fringes – but it’ll do until I can draw them. L-R: Oscar, Scott, Janie & Alice.

Let’s Imagine A Story…

“Come on folks, settle down – and let’s imagine a story…”

Imagery is what your readers need, constantly. Imagine they’re like the dragon St George slayed (…when it was alive). Constantly needing sacrifices, constantly needing food to keep it at bay. Your readers are like that (although hopefully not fire-breathing and people-eating – if they are, run, run very fast and very far). Just with imagery.

But make sure it’s good imagery, otherwise that those readers, who are dragons but are not dragons will get angry and irritated (ok, that’s just left me confused about dragons and readers. Let’s go back to readers).

Long words can confuse and muddle your audience, leaving them wishing they had a dictionary imprinted in their brain; but also make sure it’s not short, boring sentences, eg, “Her hair was dark brown and shoulder length. It was curled. Her eyes were blue.” (Oh, and please, for the love of gods, don’t describe eyes as ‘orbs’ for the next twenty years – it’s so overused.)

To write good imagery, imagine you’re seeing your scene on a film. Say what you see; describe some of it; explain the relevant parts. Give your reader a place they can really imagine in their minds, like you’re taking them to a place, but only if they know where it is – and those dragons (or was it readers?) really want to go there.

If you can see the picture in your mind when you read what you’ve written, send it to a friend, and ask if they can see a good one, too. If they can, then it’s probably good imagery. If they’re left confused – well, what’s to say you can’t edit?

So yes, imagery – very important. If you take anything away from this slightly-weird article (sorry, I’ve just been writing, gimme a break), then let it be this: DON’T ANGER THE DAMN DRAGONS.

– Hannah 🙂

NaBloPoMo Index

"RAWR," said the big, scary, man-eating dragon.
“RAWR,” said the big, scary, man-eating dragon.