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Tutorial Request: Describing Characters (Lit)

Looking for an art or writing tutorial? Or perhaps you have your own art or writing advice that you would like to share? If so, then this is the place.
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Tutorial Request: Describing Characters (Lit)

Post by Rainwhisker » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:10 am

Okay, pardon if I didn't use this forum correctly.

Anyway, I am terrible at describing certain features of characters whenever I try to make a physical description. I'm even more terrible at describing one thing: Hair.

I can never tell anyone and give a decent idea what X person's hair looks like!

It's also mainly that that kind of stays my hand when I want to ask someone to draw Feres for me. If I can't get his description right, I'm scared I might waste the artist's time because my failed description can't give him the image that I'm thinking.
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Post by RabidFox » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:45 pm

It's pretty easy to describe hair. Do your characters have complex hair styles and color patterns? I'm not sure how to help unless I know a little more about your problem.

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Post by Justin » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:22 pm

One of the rules of a Mary-Sue is that the hair description takes up more than two sentences.

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Post by Rainwhisker » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:50 pm

Wow, finally someone answered!

Mary-Sue is equivalent to a commoner, right?

Can't say that's a bad thing or not though...I mean, my characters have nothing extraordinary. I just have trouble describing without a picture.

Hard to see my predicament...
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Post by Madame » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:56 pm

A Mary-Sue is not something desirable, Darkvalkyr. Being called one is a strong insult on the net. It means your character is overly perfect/ridiculous in appearance/annoying. They are often notable in that they have extraordinary hair, eyes, or other physical features coupled with innumerable personality virtues (friendly, funny, strong-willed, clever) and few flaws.

As for your dilemma, you might try drawing a sketchy version of what you have in mind for the hair or finding an equivalent picture on the web to show the artist.
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Post by Rainwhisker » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:36 pm

Aaaah, so that's what a Mary-Sue is. So no, I don't want one.

Okay, then. a short description for the hair, and I guess I'll see about sketching or comparison for better details...

Thanks.
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Post by RabidFox » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:04 pm

Sorry, I took a holiday break from the forum, or I would have responded a lot sooner. That and I just missed this thread somehow.

Like I said, it's not hard to describe hair -- Or fur; I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to. Usually, when I'm describing a character's appearance, I write it before most anything else and try to work little details into the course of the story. For example...


Todd was on his way to work, struggling not to bump into anyone on the sidewalk. He was headed for the bus stop, brown eyes jerking to his watch every few too many minutes. The fox was in a peach. Somehow, he'd managed to sleep in this dull Tuesday, and would miss his ride if he didn't burn his soles. His fiery orange fur was the perfect color for illustrating rush hour, though, his whole attitude, even at its jumpiest, still seemed to scream "I actually enjoy watching commercials, read dictionaries for fun, and recite Shakespeare at parties! Run away!"

Dark blue business suit, clean-cut and freshly pressed, shiny black shoes, and a neatly combed tail, Todd was easily the most boring man on Feila. He had all the charm and wit of an alarm clock wound up tighter than a whore's blouse. Hell, even his own mother couldn't stand his obsessive, compulsive perfectionism. The fox was the impeccable Harvard rip-off.


Or for a more hair-focused description in "human" terms, as I think you might be referring to human-like hair on furries...


John had short, black hair. It was chopped up into an old-fashioned crew cut, and there wasn't much to say about it. It was just on his head.


Or for you hippies...


Frank had long, wavy auburn hair that reached just above his shoulders. His bangs got in his eyes, and he was always brushing them away.


If you need anymore help or if I didn't quite give you what you wanted, feel free to ask.

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Post by Rainwhisker » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:37 pm

" crew cut"

Aha!~ That's what I mean.

I don't know the names of most of these styles people use. Or what they look like, that's what I'm lacking.
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Post by RabidFox » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:26 am

Do you have an XBox 360? I don't know the names of all the hairstyles, as the hair of my characters' is usually quite nondescript, but the avatar system in XBox360 has a bunch of different hairstyles to choose from all with a short description attached. You might try checking that out to help you get a better idea of what you want your character to look like and how you might describe such a hairstyle.

The thing with our hair as guys is that there's usually nothing to it, so more often than not there's next to nil to describe. Girls typically have a lot more hair, and they do all sorts of crazy stuff to it, so I guess they might have a bunch of funny labels for their hairstyles.

When I describe hair, I may state the length, color, and sometimes the texture. For example, hair can be straight, wavy, or curly. In books, I notice that the authors don't usually get too much into the hair of a character unless it's particularly significant somehow.

For example, a guy might have curly, red hair or a girl might have long, flowing blond locks, and the author may go on a bit about these characteristics. Curly, red hair and long, flowing blond locks are, of course, more noticeable than a bland crew cut or slicked back, brown hair. Therefore, it makes sense why the author may choose to pay such features a little extra attention. The girl's golden hair might make her really hot or the guy's red mop might remind the author of a carrot. But then if your character's hair isn't much to look at, then it isn't much to describe, either. Unless there's something special about your character's hair, move onto their attire and other features of significance when focusing on a physical description. For example, you might want to include any of the following details: Height, weight, muscle or lack thereof, skin or fur color, fur patterns, tail if applicable, ear size and shape, noticeable scars, eye color, etcetera.

I'll throw up a few photographs from Google, and give some example descriptions of hair. Each description will be placed below its matching photograph.


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The man's hair reminded John of a koosh ball. It was a shockingly bright red, and perhaps even more unusual was that it was standing on end like he had been electrocuted.

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She had long, flowing blond locks that gently twisted and turned like bends in a river. They were not saffron yellow as the sun or bleached white like an angel's wings, but a dusty, dirty gold that struck one as would the raw power of the African savanna. Her eyes gleamed, gray and strong. The woman was a lion in the city. A wild cat draped in a white dress with silver earrings.

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He had a simple, straight-forward crew cut like a GI Joe action figure.


Is this more like what you were looking for? I can offer some more examples if you want.

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Post by Rainwhisker » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:24 am

Mmm, that helps give me an idea on writing.

Obvious enough, if it is non-descript, don't describe too much *facepalm*

Thanks a lot.
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