15 May 2008

physical description and pov

We've started working furiously on the June 30 issue of Electric Spec. This means we've been working extra hard to get through the submissions. I have some advice for authors: keep in mind pov when you're doing physical descriptions. The modern style in short stories is NOT to describe the physical characteristics of your protagonist. However, if you insist on doing so, please do not have the protag see him/herself in a mirror or glass door or similar and describe him/herself. Also please do not have your protag run his/her fingers through their auburn/blonde/gray/brown/etc. hair. Generally this introduces a pov problem because, for example, people don't sit around thinking "I brush my fingers through my purple hair", right?

Of course, now, the rest of the day, I will be thinking this, but generally people don't. :)

The deadline for submissions for the June 30 issue is today (midnight U.S. MDT)!

1 comment:

David E. Hughes said...

Agreed, Lesley. The internal characteristics of the pov character are the most important aspect. It is possible to get in the pov character's physical description, but many newer short story writers do it in a ham-handed way, such as looking in the mirror. Running fingers through hair is a particular pet peeve of mine. In fact, I rarely care about the color of any character's eyes or hair. Give me too much of that, and you are likely go get a "pass" from me.