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Is it possible to describe strands of hair as silhouettes? (1 Viewer)

alpacinoutd

Senior Member
Is it possible to describe strands of hair as silhouettes?

How can I describe these photos?

jyMUk2O.jpg


YpTo9JR.jpg



How can I make these better?

1. The sun glared behind hair, casting silhouetted strands of her hair in an orange glow.

2. She stood on the stage, a silhouette under the spotlight, loose strands of her hair highlighted.
 

Non Serviam

WF Veterans
It's certainly possible to describe strands of hair as silhouettes, but it doesn't seem clear or vivid to me. For me (2) is the better of the two options you give.

If I needed to describe those photos myself, I would consider using an eclipse metaphor (in which case the word you're looking for might be penumbra). For a night-time or indoor photo such as the second one, I might consider writing white light framed her head, like a neon halo. (I'd use that ironically, myself -- I'd use it to describe an unsympathetic character. Using it for a sympathetic protagonist feels a bit Mary Sue.)
 

alpacinoutd

Senior Member
It's certainly possible to describe strands of hair as silhouettes, but it doesn't seem clear or vivid to me. For me (2) is the better of the two options you give.

If I needed to describe those photos myself, I would consider using an eclipse metaphor (in which case the word you're looking for might be penumbra). For a night-time or indoor photo such as the second one, I might consider writing white light framed her head, like a neon halo. (I'd use that ironically, myself -- I'd use it to describe an unsympathetic character. Using it for a sympathetic protagonist feels a bit Mary Sue.)
How are those words used in a full sentence? Do you feel like having a go at it?
 
If you just wanted to describe the first photo I would say:
There is a woman turned from the sun and it highlights her hair in a rim of light.
That's just a description of fact however.

The important part is what do you want to say about her? About the situation? Who is describing her and how do they feel about it? Story is key. Is there a reason that you particularly want to describe an image like this? It might be more dramatic to find another way.

But here's how I might use such an image in a sentence:

A: As she turned away the evening sun touched her hair, turning rebellious strands into dancing golden threads.

B: The spotlight lit her up and the room fell silent, expectation heavy in the air. From where I stood, hidden in the shadows behind, she seemed to me something more than what she was, an eclipse, her hair a hazy coronet of light.

Always go for clarity, then filter it though what you want the reader to feel about the situaton/character.
 

Gumby

Staff member
Co-Owner
I agree that you need to tie the description to the character and choose words that support your image of that character. Whether it is angelic, sinister, romantic, strong, evil, etc. You choose words that project and support that depiction.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
A 'silhouette' is dark against the light behind it. Loose strands of hair are a little different as you can see in the photos, each hair actually catches the light with its highlights and allows light to come through the strands so that they appear lighter than the background lighting. If you were rendering either of the above photos with colored pencils and you had already placed the background colors in, you would reach for a lighter shade of pencil for those wisps, not a darker one. So that's my quibble with "silhouette", anyway.

These wisps of hair become part of the light framing your character. Any detail can be important or not mentioned at all based solely on the effect that you wish to create and what you want to say about the situation and the character. As Gumby pointed out, description is driven by how the POV character sees the character being described, too.

The two photos used for examples have entirely different contexts and would be described very differently. In the first photo if I mentioned the wisps it could be for reasons such as to show that the woman had a busy day and the weather was hot and humid, perhaps. The second photo has tension to it, a performer approaching the stage. She has nervous energy and there is a current of expectation in the room. I might describe the wisps of hair in terms that convey that kind of "hair-raising" electricity if I mentioned it at all.

I've no idea what your character is doing or who is describing her so it's difficult to pin down if this is an important detail and how to write it.
 

Bloggsworth

WF Veterans
You'd have to have amazing eyesight to see one strand as a silhouette as individual hairs are basically transparent, it is collectively that they assume a solid colour.
 
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