29 November 2007

Descriptions

First of all, my apologies for not posting here more often. I'm experiencing some connection issues at the moment. Fortunately, I had a good night the other night reading my inbox (not all of it, but I read into early November). We are really seeing some wonderful, quality submissions!


Dave recently did a post on description, and it struck me I don't agree entirely. If a description consists entirely of hair and eye color, then yes, it's difficult to determine its pertinence to the story, because description, like everything, must serve the story. It must pertain to plot, characterization, or setting.



However, in spec fic, hair and eye color may very well serve the story. Think of DUNE and the all-blue eyes of the Fremen. In my own urban fantasy series, hair and eye color is of geneological import to the story, a signal to characters and readers alike: This is where this character belongs--or does not belong, as the case may be. Even in RL, seeing a spouse's eyes stare back at you from your son's face or finding your own smile on a century-old photo is a magical experience. In these cases, ordinary identifying markers take on a historical, almost extraordinary (sometimes ironic) meaning. They are integral and significant to the individual and often the plot. You know, of course, what color eyes your protag has as well as you know the color of your own, but is it something you think about every moment of every day? Just be certain that it's significant to the protag's POV or to the plot or setting, and we won't reject a story based on listing an eye color as a characteristic.

5 comments:

lesleylsmith said...

Dave did a post on description? Which one was that?
Betsy, admit it, you are obsessed with hair in your descriptions! I'm almost convinced you should be a hairdresser. :)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Hey, hair is sexy, darn it!!

Actually, I'm toning it down a bit cuz of the critique group... :)

David E. Hughes said...

I think Bets may be refering to Lesley's post back in August that I commented on. Or maybe its and earlier post I did---I didn't go back and look. For the record, I do take issue with many short story descriptions I see that are limited to hair and eye color. Why? It usually leaves me with only a superficial image of the character described. Even if hair and eye color are important to the story, most good writers fit that information in along with a fuller, more satisfying character description.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Agreed. Maybe we just talked about it? It all runs together...

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