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Describing characters as attractive (1 Viewer)

Xander416

Senior Member
I've read a few writing advice blogs that say you shouldn't do this outside of the POV of a character that finds said character attractive. Personally, I disagree with this, because if I intend for the character to be the hottest guy/girl in the room, I want it known to the reader so they can imagine it. Sure, you can leave exacting details up to the imagination, but if you intend for a character to rival George Clooney or Beyonce in looks, what's wrong with telling your reader that especially if it's relevant to the plot in some way?
 

Megan Pearson

Senior Member
This could apply to any character trait. What if someone is lucky? Your third-person omniscient narrator might say Jake (ahem, borrowed from another current thread) knew he was lucky, had always been told he was lucky, and was about to press his luck again. Have we really heard other characters if what we're told about Jake is true or not? Just because one character says something about another character doesn't make the observation true or not. It could just be an observation about the character making the observation.

I've always thought Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre was misunderstood in this way. Last time I left off reading it I was, I think, on my fifth time through. (I love the story.) She has Jane report what other people say about her, but I'm not convinced that Jane believes it herself. In fact, I rather think Jane thinks the opposite, but like many abused children, she learns the hard way to stay quiet about it. In other words, she lives up to their expectations--and in some ways it's tragically unavoidable that she does. This tension, as it builds in her character, lends to her this amazing strength--but also this quiet grace and dignity, too, because inside, she knows who she is despite what other people say.

I'd go with your gut on how and when to reveal what you do about your character. I would, however, be more concerned with staying true to the character than worrying about the plot at this point. If she truly is stunning, tell us and then show us how all the guys in the room follow her with their eyes and, if she knows she's stunning, show us how she just smirks back at them, smug that her boyfriend is the great ____ and she is the envy of woman. Just be sure you keep reading beyond your comfort zone and consider how people really are and act, and you should be fine.
 
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