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View Full Version : A short stint at better character description, constructive criticism welcome!



DH-Biker
April 30th, 2013, 10:50 PM
Alright guys.

Just a quick post here, but I'd appreciate some feedback. I'm trying a new writing style and I want to work on my character description, so I've written a short piece about a character in one of my current stories and I'm writing it in the same style throughout. But yeah, any criticisms you can think of, I would just like to see what I can improve upon, what's working, etc. Once again, this is simply a more in depth play at character description, normally I wouldn't describe a character in this detail within a story, so please take it as an individual piece. For those that are interested, I'll be posting part of the story up here shortly if you'd like to take a look at it, further constructive criticism would be more then welcome there. Anyway, without further ado:

Her physical presence in the room is astounding, she paces back and forth across the sandstone floor like a caged animal, halberd held out to her side, the long blade moving several inches off the floor, the energy field surrounding it hums gently, the faintest hint of whispering blue crests the blade. Standing atop her shoulder sits a phoenix, vivid orange, yellow and red feathers cover the creature whilst its hawk-like head eyes up the newcomers.
Her armour is chrome-illusion, as she walks it changes from a perfect-white, to a deeper pearl white, finally through to a shimmering blue, each reflecting vividly from the light beaming in from the twin-suns above. Wisps of dark lines trail around the armour plating whilst a pair of proud phoenixes, similar in outline to the fine creature perched upon her shoulder, face outward on one shoulder plate, the other a rose or similar looking plant.
Piercing green eyes watch them as they stand in the court, predatory, scanning for any sudden movement, they dare them to make a single threat here. Dusty-blonde hair is tightened into corn-rows across her scalp, beaded and knotted at the tips, they dance and clink together over the nape of her neck as she moves. The helmet that would've covered her features hangs from her waist, a long, pluming crest of red reaches from the point between the lenses all the way back to the base of the neck-joint, would she have worn it, the plume would've reached down to the equally red cape that dusts the floor when she turns on her heel each time she passes before them, the two shoulder straps are secured at the centre of her breast plate by a green and white flower, the same as upon her pouldron, a series of studded jewels sparkle brightly as she passes in and out of the light.
Cato fails to remember a time he'd seen craftsmanship so perfect, the detail worked into the armour is breathtaking as is the beauty of the wearer. He is, however, under no illusions that the merest hint of a false move or threat would see both himself and his party dead by her hand.


The character described plays an important role throughout although the descriptions of her are drawn out throughout her time with the group. I just mashed it altogether here upon their first meeting to serve as a cumulation of description, to see if people think there's a way I can improve how my descriptive writing is. Once again, any and all constructive criticism and feedback is welcome and finally, many thanks in advance.

Edit: If this is in the wrong forum section, apologies, I put it here as the story is a sci-fi/fantasy one, but having thought about the subject, it may have been better off in writing discussion.

- DH.

Folcro
May 1st, 2013, 01:41 AM
For one thing, I wouldn't go into how things "would have looked" if she "wore this, this way." You sort of lost me there. Maybe give the phoenixes their own paragraph (though obviously, I'm not sure how this will read when woven throughout the narrative).

Piercing green eyes watch them as they stand in the court, predatory, scanning for any sudden movement--- I would cut the cliche's and excess information out and just say "Predatory eyes scanning the scene."

I would go easy on the detail--- pluming crest of red reaches from the point between the lenses all the way back to the base of the neck-joint. And maybe it's not so important where the breast straps on her breast plate are. Much of this the reader will be able to conjure on their own if your describe her armor more briefly.

Lastly, and this is pure taste on my part, I don't like present tense. Not that many people don't, after all, the Hunger Games did quite well. All I can say is to think about why you want it this way and if you really do before you execute.

lowprofile300
May 1st, 2013, 02:17 AM
Alright guys.


Her physical presence in the room is astounding, she paces back and forth across the sandstone floor like a caged animal, halberd held out to her side, the long blade moving several inches off the floor, the energy field surrounding it hums gently, the faintest hint of whispering blue crests the blade. Standing atop her shoulder sits a phoenix, vivid orange, yellow and red feathers cover the creature whilst its hawk-like head eyes up the newcomers.
Her armour is chrome-illusion, as she walks it changes from a perfect-white, to a deeper pearl white, finally through to a shimmering blue, each reflecting vividly from the light beaming in from the twin-suns above. Wisps of dark lines trail around the armour plating whilst a pair of proud phoenixes, similar in outline to the fine creature perched upon her shoulder, face outward on one shoulder plate, the other a rose or similar looking plant.
Piercing green eyes watch them as they stand in the court, predatory, scanning for any sudden movement, they dare them to make a single threat here. Dusty-blonde hair is tightened into corn-rows across her scalp, beaded and knotted at the tips, they dance and clink together over the nape of her neck as she moves. The helmet that would've covered her features hangs from her waist, a long, pluming crest of red reaches from the point between the lenses all the way back to the base of the neck-joint, would she have worn it, the plume would've reached down to the equally red cape that dusts the floor when she turns on her heel each time she passes before them, the two shoulder straps are secured at the centre of her breast plate by a green and white flower, the same as upon her pouldron, a series of studded jewels sparkle brightly as she passes in and out of the light.
Cato fails to remember a time he'd seen craftsmanship so perfect, the detail worked into the armour is breathtaking as is the beauty of the wearer. He is, however, under no illusions that the merest hint of a false move or threat would see both himself and his party dead by her hand.


The character described plays an important role throughout although the descriptions of her are drawn out throughout her time with the group. I just mashed it altogether here upon their first meeting to serve as a cumulation of description, to see if people think there's a way I can improve how my descriptive writing is. Once again, any and all constructive criticism and feedback is welcome and finally, many thanks in advance.

- DH.

@DH-Biker, There is no doubt in my mind, you know how to describe your characters well. The evidence speaks for itself. I think you did great describing her. The problem maybe too much description, i.e. overkill. If this is going to be part of a story, three paragraphs on describing something will be considered overkill. I will say this, though -it's one hell of a description. Cheers

DH-Biker
May 1st, 2013, 03:32 AM
Thanks for the reply, Folcro:


For one thing, I wouldn't go into how things "would have looked" if she "wore this, this way." You sort of lost me there. Maybe give the phoenixes their own paragraph (though obviously, I'm not sure how this will read when woven throughout the narrative).

It was supposed to pan out that, had she worn the helm, the crest would've been down to her cape, it was a bit of useless information that upon re-reading wasn't necessary. Her 'pet' in the story has its own paragraph, but as you say its difficult to read when not in context, again this was purely an attempt to see what improvements I could do on character description.


Piercing green eyes watch them as they stand in the court, predatory, scanning for any sudden movement--- I would cut the cliche's and excess information out and just say "Predatory eyes scanning the scene."

Got'cha. That line was part of a good chunk of the above section in the OP upon their first meeting and I had wondered during if I was slamming too much info into it. Thanks for the tip!


I would go easy on the detail--- pluming crest of red reaches from the point between the lenses all the way back to the base of the neck-joint. And maybe it's not so important where the breast straps on her breast plate are. Much of this the reader will be able to conjure on their own if your describe her armor more briefly.

Again, thanks for the tip. The section on generally the crest, her iconography et al all came a bit later in a conversation, so its somewhat out of context, but as a simple slam at CD its useful tips. :)


Lastly, and this is pure taste on my part, I don't like present tense. Not that many people don't, after all, the Hunger Games did quite well. All I can say is to think about why you want it this way and if you really do before you execute.

This is purely to try a new writing style on my part, like I said at the start of the OP, it was just an attempt. I've yet to write like this and so I'm having a bash at it. I've had to re-read through paragraphs lord knows how many times as I've placed a few past-tense comments in there, they slip in quite commonly, but its easy to circumvent.

Once more, thanks for the tips, Folcro, I really appreciate it.

Pelwrath
May 1st, 2013, 06:20 AM
I'd open with the "Piercing green eyes watch them as they stand in the court, predatory, scanning for any sudden movement, they dare them to make a single threat here." Seems to create an aura of mystery. I'd add a descriptive as to how the eyes looked vs color and how (predatory), again be comfortable with it as it's your story, yet description I easier to add than take away.

Arcwood
May 2nd, 2013, 07:00 PM
You call the Halberd "it" perhaps him would work better.

Her armour is chrome-illusion, as she walks it changes from a perfect-white, to a deeper pearl white, finally through to a shimmering blue, each reflecting vividly from the light beaming in from the twin-suns above. Wisps of dark lines trail around the armour plating whilst a pair of proud phoenixes, similar in outline to the fine creature perched upon her shoulder, face outward on one shoulder plate, the other a rose or similar looking plant.

I woudl change this. to Her Chrome illusion armour changes from a perfect white to a deeper pearl as she walks, finally throuugh to a shimmering blue. new sentance. Each...
the rest of that paragraph is awesome.
the rest is fine, dependant on the continueing stanzas.

Jamaal
May 2nd, 2013, 08:40 PM
Hey DH.

Wow, that is indeed very... descriptive. Like I think was said by someone else, too descriptive. With that being said, AS A DESCRIPTIVE PIECE, it was well done.
I have picked up books that have started that way, and before building a story are going into detail about hair follicles, so I put the book down and walk away. Frankly, I like my imagination and like to use it to an extent while reading reading.

Outiboros
May 8th, 2013, 08:47 PM
The main problem seems to be the commas. take the first sentence, for example.

Her physical presence in the room is astounding, she paces back and forth across the sandstone floor like a caged animal, halberd held out to her side, the long blade moving several inches off the floor, the energy field surrounding it hums gently, the faintest hint of whispering blue crests the blade.

I feel like there's three sentences in there, all jammed into one sandwich of words.

Her physical presence in the room is astounding. She paces back and forth across the sandstone floor like a caged animal, halberd held out to her side. The long blade moves several inches off the floor, the energy field surrounding it humming gently, the faintest hint of whispering blue cresting the blade.

There. Nothing is lost, but to me, it's a whole lot easier to read and has a better flow.

Then again... I'm not a very visually attuned person, but it seems to me the description is much, much longer than it needs to be. Isn't the phoenix much more important than her pauldorns or the rose on her breast? Maybe the phoenix is there only for show, and the pauldrons will turn out to be massively important, but in any case -focus on the important bits.

P.S. "Her presence is astounding" is rather blatantly telling.
P.P.S. Also, is 'pouldron' an accepted term? I prefer 'pauldron'.