Tag Archive - Patricia A. McKillip

A Look at Masterful Character Description Part 4

We’ve been looking at masterful character description over these last weeks, and I hope you notice one thing in particular: character description is more about revealing aspects of the POV character “doing” the describing than it is about those being described.

This truth also applies to describing setting or animals or furniture . . . In other words, the purpose of writing description is to clue the reader in on your POV character’s personality, voice, choice of vocabulary, attitude, education, and all he is. That’s what deep POV is all about.

The other crucial aspect of character description is genre. You have to know your genre! Seriously. Too many first novels I critique have inappropriate writing style for the genre. I’ll see a “YA contemporary” that reads like a stuffy doctoral thesis. Or a fantasy novel that is as visually sterile as the dark side of the moon. If you are going to spend months of your life writing novels and hope to sell them, you have to do your homework. You have to make sure your writing, which includes all the description, fits your genre.

How can you figure that out? Do you really need to ask? Study best sellers similar to your book. If you aren’t sure what the description should be like, get out the yellow highlighter, mark up all the description, then study it!

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