So these are just my tips on what I think makes for a better description of characters.
So, there is a time and a place for lengthy character descriptions, and a battle is not one of them. I can not tell you how often in novels where a character will suddenly pause and think in detailed description of this character that was just introduced to them.
Most the time, it is a bad guy who they are meeting for the first time on the battlefield, and the writer thinks it is absolutely necessary to describe extreme detail of every part of the newcomer. If the writers style is like most styles, then the narration is part of the characters thoughts, and so, as the main character is about to charge into battle with his sword raised, instead of thinking about not dying, he pauses to admire someone. Everyone around him are dying, and he is looking over the eye color and armor designs of the bad guy…who is apparently standing there modeling during that pause since neither are attacking each-other.
In reality, if you are in a battle, you will have tunnel vision in regards to fashion statements.
Don’t get me wrong, you can add in descriptions, just please don’t break up the action to do it. There are ways you can describe someone while also adding in movement; for example, “She brought down her sword, and a wave of wild blond hair came down across her face.”
Other examples you will also see in novels(and sometime overdone) is “he ran his hand through his almond hair” or “she tucked a blonde strand of hair behind her ear.” These are short details that do not break up tension.
Another way of describing a character I don’t like is the mirror technique. How this works is a character pauses in front of a reflective surface -likely near the start of the book- and describes himself in length paragraphs. This is strange. I don’t know about all of you, but I don’t stand in front of the mirror and admire my eye-color or chin shape.
My suggestion is to try and weave descriptions into a story so that the reader gets the details they need, but it does not disrupt the scene.
- Currently Reading: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard; The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.
- Next Book: The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson