Dressing Your Characters

See, each one brings to mind a different character

I was reading somewhere the other day, and I wish I could remember, but I can’t, about how as a writer, you really shouldn’t over dress your characters, or really go into great detail about how they look.  What!

I’m sorry, but some of what makes a story come to life is how a character looks.  Blondes act completely different from red heads.  Red heads tend to be feisty.  Blondes while they get the stereotype of ‘dumb’, can be smart and funny.  And how they dress tells a lot about a character.  Does she (I’m using she right now) wear mini skirts and stilettos?  Why, she’s a hip girl then.  Wool skirts and turtlenecks?  Modest.

Does he wear suits and slacks?  Then obviously he’s a business man.  T-shirts and jeans?  Well, he can be in the construction industry or maybe he’s in a blue-collar job.  Sure, you are going to be describing what these people do, and their actions will dictate who they are as a person, but clothing is important.

Now, granted, I suppose one doesn’t need to go into super great detail about how a person looks.  Does anyone know what a gamine face is?  Or a patrician nose?  Usually I have no clue, but still, despite the fact that I don’t know, doesn’t matter. I still like knowing how the author described their character. 

I myself, because I have this image in my head, like to describe how my people look.  Hence why I also keep pictures of what a certain character looks like.  My ‘Luke Greyson’ character looks like Alexander Skarsgard.  Now, I know that probably isn’t necessary for any reader to know, it’s important to me.  I want to know what my character looks like while I write him/her.

I suppose it all depends on the writer as well.  Male writers leave a lot to be desired when it comes to describing details.  Actually, most male writers leave out a lot of details.  Part of the reason why I don’t read most books by men.  However, women tend to go overboard with details sometimes.  There is probably a happy medium, but does it really matter?  If you don’t like an author, you don’t read them. If you like detail, and an author is detailed, then you will stick with them. Hence why I read Emilie Loring and Zane Gray.  They both love their detail.  Whereas Louis L’Amour does not.

Personal taste.  So, in all these books on writing, should they really tell you to cut the detail? 

What about you, reader.  Do you like detail or not?  Do you describe your characters down to what nail polish they are wearing, or do you keep it minimal?

Writing on


2 thoughts on “Dressing Your Characters

  1. Pingback: How Do Women Write Men? | Susan Sheehey

  2. Pingback: The Western Character in Westerns

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s