Descriptions in WIP Wednesday

One of my beta readers on my contemporary novella pointed out that I described two secondary characters, but not the hero and heroine. Which was true. In fact, sometimes I barely describe my characters at all, though I almost always work from photographs and paintings so that I can see the person in my mind’s eye as I watch them act the dramas I document.

How about you? Do you see your characters? Do you describe them, and if so, is it eye of God or in another character’s viewpoint or the old ‘in a mirror’ trick?

This week, please share a description of someone in your work in progress. My excerpt describes, Ottilie, the heroine of Forged in Fire, which will appear in the box set for the Bluestocking Belles. We announce the title and reveal the cover this coming weekend.

She wasn’t as meek as she pretended. He’d seen the steel in her, the fire in those pretty hazel eyes.

The word ‘pretty’ put a check in his stride, but it was true. She had lovely eyes. Not a pretty face, precisely. Her cheeks were too thin, her jaw too square, her nose too straight for merely ‘pretty’. But in her own way, she was magnificent. She was not as comfortably curved or as young as the females he used to chase when he was a wild youth, the sort he always thought he preferred. Not as gaudy as them, with their bright dresses and their brighter face paint. But considerably less drab than he had thought at first sight. She was a little brown hen that showed to disadvantage beside the showier feathers of the parrot, but whose feathers were a subtle symphony of shades and patterns. Besides, parrots, in his experience, were selfish, demanding creatures.

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Descriptions in WIP Wednesday

The-Egyptian-room-drawingI’ve spent a large part of my adult working life in commercial writing, creating and editing legal, government, financial, and business documents. When I decided to commit to writing fiction again, I was concerned that the pared back, plain language style I had cultivated so assiduously would bleed over. Could I write a description? Could I transport my readers into another place; cause them to build pictures in their mind of rooms and landscapes and people? I worried.

I find that if I strongly visualise something myself, then simply describe it as clearly as possible, it seems to work. And so I go looking for visual inspiration, much of which finds a home on my Pinterest pages.

Below is a description from Embracing Prudence. David is calling on a client. As always, I invite you to post excerpts from your work in the comments, and to share through twitter, facebook, or wherever else you like.

David was shown through a lofty hall by an equally lofty butler, and into a parlour decorated in the Egyptian style. Last month, he had met Rede at the solicitor’s office and then had tea with him at his club, so missing the glory of the former Earl of Chirbury’s decorating style.

The room had been painted black to above head height, with gold detailing. Above that was a frieze easily two feet high; Egyptian pharaohs, slaves, mummies, soldiers, and gods painted in garish colours marching endlessly around the room, with a sublime disregard for any kind of sense or story.

The furniture carried on the theme, with blocky claw-footed pieces upholstered or painted in reds, greens and golds. Every surface, including a couple of ornately painted plinths, carried more Egyptian-inspired decoration: sphinxes, pharaohs’ heads, vases, mirrors in frames; even the candle sconces were sphinxes with holders embedded in their heads.

The door opened behind him; heavier steps than the butler’s.

“It’s ghastly, isn’t it?”

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