Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BryonySeries Examples: Using Character Description to Reveal Personality

"They" say we shouldn't "judge a book by its cover," but we, consciously or unconsciously, evaluate people all the time, based on first impressions.

Now sometimes those impressions are correct and sometimes they are incorrect. Part of the fun of writing is that YOU, by careful word choice, can steer your reader in either direction.

Unconvinced? Consider the grand entrances for these characters in Bryony and Visage. And sorry about the font size. Blogspot was allowing two choices this morning: miniscule and font for the nearly blind. I chose the latter.

           A lanky man, about forty, in a green, pocket T-shirt, faded blue jeans, and threadbare gym shoes, was holding a tape measure against her bedroom wall. He reached behind his ear for his pencil, pulled a wrinkled paper from his pocket, and jotted some figures. Glancing up, he noticed Melissa, and his face broke into a wide grin

          A brown-haired woman in a gray-tweed skirt, beige blouse, and glasses hanging on a chain around her neck stepped out, carrying an armful of books.

           Food stains smeared Mr. Masters’ polka-dot shirt, half-tucked into his baggy trousers. With one finger, he slid smudged spectacles back up his nose as he lectured his students. His thick, disheveled, gray-streaked brown hair sorely needed a comb and a bottle of shampoo.

           By the glow of the firelight from the red-brick hearth, Henry Matthews, dressed in black pants and a red waistcoat, reclined in a leather armchair. His gray cravat draped over the arm of the chair, and he had unfastened the top buttons of his ruffled white shirt. With half-mast eyes, Henry sniffed the cigar he drew under his nose and sighed with pleasure. Chinook lolled on the floor next to Henry’s chair. The merest hint of a smile adorned his boyish face.

           Her colorless, green eyes, were nearly devoid of lashes; her dry lips faded into her thin, white face; and the short sleeves on her emerald gown overemphasized her skinny arms.

           Despite her petite hour-glass figure and wispy hair, Jill had easily carried four suitcases, in one trip, up two flights of stairs. Now looking fresh and innocent in a melon-hued, scooped neck shirt and floral print skirt, Jill no longer resembled the staggering drunk who had awakened Melissa before dawn by vomiting sour rum all over the floor.

            Jenny favored peasant clothes, which, along with her large, round dark eyes, heavily accented with shadow and mascara, and long, shaggy dark hair, gave her the appearance of a cuddly rag doll. Turquoise rings and bitten-down nails adorned her fingers, and Melissa had not yet seen Jenny without a choker necklace. The one clasped around her neck today alternated aquamarine and white beads.

         Their mother, Patty, looked as young as Katie, except Patty was     skinny. She also still had adolescent acne, a shiny pug nose, thinly plucked eyebrows, and dirty blonde hair caught in a high pony tail.

The door opened, and a short, stooped, man with heavy, thick-rimmed black glasses and artificially dark hair slicked to one side entered, skimming John’s chart.
Even if she wasn’t pregnant, Debbie Polis, outdated feathered blonde hair falling softly over pudgy cheeks, still would be chubby. She stood uncertainly in the doorway, wringing her stumpy hands.
A short, slender man with long knotted brown hair stood at one end of the room, bawling and wiping his nose with the back of his flannel shirt.
The tall and bulky Cornell Dyer, dressed in bleached and faded jeans taut at the seams, a T-shirt tightly stretched over his barreled chest, and blazer patched in colorful squares of polyester, reminded Melissa of a giant Panda, albeit one with a mop of thick, curly black hair and a small-squared off mustache, as he lumbered to the front door to greet them. The soft hand that shook hers in a hearty greeting resembled a large marshmallow; the lips that kissed her cheek felt like a wet sponge.








No comments: