Monday, November 4, 2013

Character Foundations: Descriptions (Continued)

I never got around to adding those descriptions last week of either category. That was my bad, but I figured actually showing you a few in depth examples would by far make up for the exclusion.

So we had two styles of description. Show Me was a style that followed the traditional methodology of describing characters, but with the added spin of creating personalities out of the descriptive process. The Tell Me style was conducive to eliminating character description altogether, but this was to give freedom to the reader to build their own conception of the character. The trick here is forcing the reader to come to your conclusions though! I mean this in sort of a lighthearted sense. You don't them to think that a fat person is thin, or a greedy person is generous.

So here are a couple exampled of Show Me descriptions. Your goal is to picture what the character looks like and from that description isolate what their personality might be like.

"How many day Jack Whims is gonna' steal from me I don't rightly know, but that lazy pompous bastard can't wash his own jacket to save his life. His loathsome smell and mottled face, reek of Irish Whiskey and shiftless dreams. I saw him the other day, takin' great care to lift his shoes up, out of the mud, on Birtchdunne Court. 'Told me that they were new, and I couldn't believe my eyes. That child's limp, soft arms couldn't lift a shovel, let alone the bag of pennies he had to spend on those loafers. He still has brown hair mind you. Never worked a day in his life at the coal winds in Wrenhaven. I ne'er trusted a youth that couldn't work."
"White gown, six stars, a crescent bow. There she walked with poise like no other heiress. Pristine shoes as white as forge iron, sparkling like emeralds and walking on clouds, she had me. I had never seen an empress before. How I thought I was dead. Six of her attendants took post at her trail, wide as a man and long as a sloop. They kept us back, pinned to the alley. Each one was her barrier between the filth of the city and her crystalline aura. When she came to me I saw her face. O' how pure it was, like cool milk and soft as goose down. She said no word to me, nor my companion, but strayed her gaze a moment. Her cerulean eyes, like the clearest lake of my childhood were the most treasured sight I ever beheld."   
Do you get the idea?

Now here are a couple of Tell Me descriptions. Try to visualize what I am trying to convey here.

"Sixteen hours. Three matches, one cigarette refuses flame in the cold, drafty loft of my New England apartment. My answering machine has no calls. Work is always slow this time of year. Crime goes into a lull, a bad one. No work for a freelance detective anyhow. My hands shake, turning the nob of my television up. Electric snow fills my apartment. I feel tired suddenly. I want to sit, but there is nothing to sit on. I'm empty. Scratchy voices fill my dreams, tell me what could've been, and I listen, only for a moment. I like what I hear, then remember it's a dream. Four of my friends from the force show me a good time once a week. I haven't heard from them in a while since the falling out. They don't want a geezer like me around no more. I'm just a rusty gun."
"Gary sells things. He calls them that to help him sleep. I knew him for only a short while. He knew his way around a product. Where he gets them I don't know. Every product has a past, some more bloody than others. He is pristine, precise. His figures are always in line. I remember the way he talked, the way he smiled. Every syllable finds it's way. There is nothing he says that comes across other than how he meant it. His products know why Gary is who he is. They know that he will never let them go, never make a mistake, never drop the ball. Sometimes I regret what I did, but Gary made it so easy. He made the perfect transaction, the perfect experience possible. It was all because he was Gary, pure, distilled Gary."
   I want you guys to looks at both sections of each style, and figure out what these characters look like. Who are they? What kind of people do they remind us of? Next week we'll move on, but for now meditate on these descriptions. As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to comment.


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