Category Archives: Writing

Creative Juice #319

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Creative Juice #319

The Thanksgiving weekend edition. I’m thankful for all the creative artists who inspire us.

The Case for NOT Describing your Character’s Appearance

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The Case for NOT Describing your Character’s Appearance

When I read a good novel, I identify so strongly with the main female character that I picture her as looking a lot like me—not necessarily the plump little old lady I am today, but the idealized version of me at the character’s age (maybe a little more voluptuous, taller, and put-together than my actual self). If the author describes the character as she envisions her, my subconscious won’t necessarily accept it. If the character’s inner dialogue matches my thought process, she’s obviously me. I cast myself playing her part in the movie version in my mind.

Doesn’t everybody do that?

Apparently not. Because in critique groups, people often say to me, “Could you describe your main character so I can visualize her?” Why shouldn’t readers visualize the character any way they want to?

stretching

In the olden days, authors often gave a complete description of their characters as they introduced them. The problem with that strategy is that the action stops. Nothing’s happening. You’re telling, not showing. You don’t see that so much in contemporary fiction. Now authors are sneaky about throwing in little bits of description here and there. Charlotte sighed and ran her fingers through her curly auburn hair. I struggle with that as a reader, especially if I see Charlotte with straight brown hair like mine. But is her hair’s texture and color important? Does it move the plot forward? Probably not.

I think I’d rather know more about Charlotte’s nature or motivation. Why does she make the choices she does? What is she hoping to accomplish? Who is she trying to get even with?

I see the necessity for describing a person in a nonfiction story, especially if the person isn’t a well-known celebrity. Then you want to see the person for himself, or at least through the eyes of the author.

But in reading fiction, you want to experience the events as if they were happening to you. You want to reside within the characters. That altered state is easier to enter if the character looks just like you. Too much description breaks the spell.

Granted, this is just my opinion. Write your story true to what you believe.

funny; humor; laughing; joy
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So, what do you believe about character description? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Creative Juice #317

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Creative Juice #317

Lots of gorgeous photography this week.

Creative Juice #316

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Creative Juice #316

12 wonderful articles to mull over.

  • Quilt show!
  • Now go to South Africa for a quilt festival. Be sure to watch the video, although it may give you vertigo. She runs through the whole exhibition hall and films hundreds of quilts in a few minutes. My eyes (and her camera) don’t focus that fast, and maddeningly, she doesn’t linger at some of the quilts I most want to get a good look at.
  • What will your legacy be?
  • Excellent destinations for a writer’s vacation. (Be sure to check out the suggestions in the comments as well.)
  • Why you should write short stories.
  • Amazing amateur photography.
  • Autumn foliage.
  • Why writers read.
  • These signs had me laughing out loud.
  • An unsolved mystery from 120 years ago.
  • Celebrating World Ballet Day.
  • The value of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ve been meaning to read it.

Creative Juice #315

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Creative Juice #315

Some pretty things, some scary things, some tips for fiction writers, and more.

Creative Juice #314

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Creative Juice #314

A lot to admire in this week’s collection of articles.

Creative Juice #313

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Creative Juice #313

Your weekend reading:

Video of the Week: Interview with Debut Novelist, Christopher Tallon

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I am amazed how poised he is on his very first television interview.

Creative Juice #311

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Creative Juice #311

Interesting stuff here.

Creative Juice #310

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Creative Juice #310

A lot of articles that will stimulate your thinking this week. And some pretty stuff.

  1. Wonderful woodworking projects.
  2. I’ve never gone to a county fair. Have you?
  3. I never knew sea grass was so interesting.
  4. Dreams may be the key to your creativity.
  5. Feedback hurts. How to accept it in stride, and how to give it constructively.
  6. Habitat for Humanity in Phoenix is trying out 3D printed homes.
  7. Extraordinary photos of ocean waves.
  8. Just the thought of tattoos makes me cringe, but these are amazing.
  9. James Rey Sanchez discusses his process and how he broke into illustrating children’s books.
  10. A painter discusses Paul Cézanne’s still lifes. More about Cézanne.
  11. Halloween is less than two months away. There is no better time for writing horror. Here are thirteen tips.
  12. Whatever the art, you’ve got to put in the time. Every day.