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Author Topic: Need help with this character description  (Read 6949 times)

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MissRis

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Not sure if this is the right place to put this, but I'm having trouble with a sentence describing a character. Essentially the woman has white hair, but not from age. Like an albino. The best example I can think is Daenerys from Game of Thrones. http://culture.pagannewswirecollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/daenerys.jpg

This is the sentence as it stands:

"Welcome," a woman with silver-white hair spoke. Her hair wasn't white from age, but it was almost as if it had never held any pigment.

Does that work? Or how else would you explain it?
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superpsycho

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #1 on: 05/29-14:12 »

Yes you have the right place. To much explanation coming across as explanation. You can say "The young women" or "middle aged woman said" or establish her age when she first appears, so the reader know she's not old. If she's albino you can say "Her skin and hair almost translucent from what seemed to be a lack of pigmentation." You can even get rid of the part about pigmentation since the translucent skin statement would make the point for most people. "Her skin and hair seemed almost translucent"

You want it to come across like an off hand observation, not sounding like a dry description. A continuous flow of thought rather then having to back track or pause to explain.  "My impression is this, except, except, except." If you have to clarify, then the pace and flow of the story is thrown off.
 

 
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MissRis

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #2 on: 05/29-16:33 »

That's a good idea! Thanks.
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Leia

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #3 on: 05/29-18:48 »

I concur. I would say something like:

"Welcome," a young woman with silver-white hair spoke.

-or-

"Welcome," The young woman spoke, shyly tucking a lock of silver-white hair behind her ear.
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Former Member

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #4 on: 05/29-20:33 »

"Welcome," The young woman spoke, shyly tucking a lock of silver-white hair behind her ear.

"Let me be non-hostile," the not older woman uttered below a shout, nonviolently unramming less than a bushel of an unRapunzelish dis-black semi-tress to behind an other than olfactory organ..."

Nah, on second thought, I got nothing...
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MissRis

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #5 on: 05/29-20:50 »

Ever so helpful....LOL
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Former Member

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #6 on: 05/29-20:55 »

Ever so helpful....LOL

Considering my ability to deliver prose this week, it's lucky I came up with that!
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123456789

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #7 on: 05/29-21:37 »

How important is the character?

If I'm falling in love with the girl at first sight, and its because of her hair, I might dedicate a sentence to it. If her hair has some religious indications or reminds me of my mother's, I might bother to give some detail to it, though still not as much as you have.

IF she's just a young woman with white hair, just say that. If it's really peculiar, maybe your MC can state it.

What's relevant is what matters. Are you going to describe her shoes too? Her belt buckle? Size of ears. I personally don't like too pay too much attention to hair unless its really important.

If you HAVE to mention her hair, again, I advise just stating it, unless its really important. In that case we should hear why.

I also wouldn't say silver white. Either silver, or white. If you're afraid of people thinking the girl looks old, well, based on the link she posted, she kinda will ;)
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MissRis

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #8 on: 05/29-22:55 »

Well it's not important, but the woman is part of a council of elders and the main character is just surprised at how young the elders look in general and she is the first one to speak. I don't know why I wanted the white hair, but I just felt it lent the character an ethereal like quality.

So do you not describe characters at all? I feel like hair colour is a really basic explanation of what a character looks like and it's a decent way to differentiate (there are six council members in total - 3 male and 3 female) and this is the first time the MC is meeting them. I just imagined her looking like a woman in her early to mid thirties when she's supposed to be a few hundred years old. I have my MC say something to the effect of: "I was picturing Gandalf, not Galadriel from LoTR," in response to seeing the council for the first time.

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superpsycho

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #9 on: 05/29-23:11 »

Your novel is first person. The observations of the MC provides the flavor of the story through her eyes. What is she a 17 year old girl? The novel becomes real based on her character. It's going to be the things that stand out to her that you'll have to describe.

Think somewhere between a Mike Hammer novel and "To Kill a Mocking Bird." Whatever you created the character's personality to be is the one who will pick up on her surroundings. Anything else wouldn't make sense. If she's flighty, then she'll pick up on all kinds of weird details. If she's focused, she'll be less distracted. Extreme white hair and skin would be strange enough to catch her eye, especially since she's in a strange world. Just don't dwell on anything to long, unless it's important, or it will begin to distract from the story. Again causal observations, not descriptions.  Hints and touches of flavor, avoid a lot of detail when dealing with atmosphere. Save it for the storyline and emotion of the main characters if needed.
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MissRis

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #10 on: 05/29-23:28 »

Yeah that's what I was thinking also.

It's strange for someone to have white hair even though they're young and she's noticing them because she was expecting them to be old. In my mind it sort of all fits together.
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Sargesatt

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #11 on: 05/29-23:50 »

Yeah that's what I was thinking also.

It's strange for someone to have white hair even though they're young and she's noticing them because she was expecting them to be old. In my mind it sort of all fits together.

My wife has gone prematurely grey.  I'm pretty sure I'm the reason.

Perhaps gossamer, spider-silk color?
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superpsycho

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #12 on: 05/30-00:00 »

Yeah that's what I was thinking also.

It's strange for someone to have white hair even though they're young and she's noticing them because she was expecting them to be old. In my mind it sort of all fits together.
You're the one that knows the character so in the end you have to decide. But don't be afraid to say what's she's thinking and especially feeling. All you have to do is just have it come out naturally.
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123456789

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Re: Need help with this character description
« Reply #13 on: 05/30-03:15 »

Personally, I don't think white hair is that big a deal. Nothing wrong with briefly pointing it out, especially if you're going to refer to her as the 'white haired woman', but again, I think elaborating on it will feel forced and maybe come out boring.

Like Psycho said, it depends on what your MC is thinking. If she's trying to discern the age of the council, the hair might throw her off and that could be described, but wouldn't that require all the council members to have white hair and young faces? I guess you could say something like.

Only one of them sported white hair. Other than that she looked as young as the others.

Still not sure that's interesting enough to include.

Maybe the mention of white hair could work as a qualifier. "The council members showed no signs of old age[MC]- one woman had white hair but that was it."
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