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Character description critiques/game

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  • #133852
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @scoutfinch190

    Hi ScoutFinch! So happy to have you!

    Your excerpt looks cool! Describing anything sci-fi/fantasy is always tricky, and I don’t have much experience with it, but I’ll try to help from what I’ve seen others do.

    Your description is good and comprehensive, but maybe you should start a little bit wider. You might have done this earlier when Jade ended up there, but if you haven’t, I’d start with describing the monster very loosely. Comparing it to some animal or mix of animals makes it easier to visualize. (You’ve actually done this already when you mentioned it looked like a lizard.)

    And you could possibly filter the description through Jade’s POV a little more, as his emotions change how he describes the monster.

    Like this:

    (You can actually completely cut “Jade took a better look at the monster.” Since he’s describing the monster, it’s obvious that he’s taking a better look at it.)

    The monster wore pants, but its exposed chest revealed rippling muscles under its scales. Jade shuddered. The monster could snap him in pieces. He felt too small, too fragile. 

    The hand-like claws were strong but dexterous as they (Whatever action they’re doing to the helmet).

    He frowned. An anthropomorph? (Etc.)

    This way you can cut a couple of the details while keeping the impression intact. You don’t get too caught up in details, but it’s always tempting. (As said by the person who has the tendency to describe things in excruciating and irrelevant detail to the point of being ridiculous. Maybe I should try taking my own advice for once XD)

    The second piece is good too! It raises a lot of interesting questions! There are one or two things you could streamline.

    The eyes as they peered down the long muzzle were large and round, the irises chemical blue and circular pupils instead of the gash-like slits its kind had.

    This piece in particular. You’re trying to put too much information in one sentence. I can see why you’re describing the eyes in so much detail, (It’s really cool!) and I’d keep that.

    Splitting the sentence up could make it a lot clearer:

    The large eyes peered down the long muzzle. They were an unnatural, chemical blue. Instead of slit pupils, his looked normal, almost human.

    Hope that helped!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #133857
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    *oik! I completely forgot to reply to this thread for so long! Here I am to grovel at your feet and beg forgiveness :P*

    That’s an excellent description! I love how you use his actions to incorporate the description. It carries a lot of character, and Alessio sounds like an interesting character! I wonder what happened to him… I get the impression that he’s kind of insecure/shy, and that he’s been through some stuff XD

    Thanks! *oh he’s been through some stuff…*

    Here’s another excerpt where I’m describing Sahar in a fancy/formal dress, so I’m describing her and the clothing at the same time. I’m pretty sure it isn’t working and I can’t get perspective on it, so I’m asking y’all to mercilessly shred it to pieces.

    Ok, so as far as the descriptions go I can get a clear image of Sahar (‘lil sweety pie) but I don’t get much of her personality here. Also, since you’re going in first person (I’m assuming Liorah) you have to show two people’s personalities at once; her’s and Sahar’s (so you don’t have to be accurate about Sahar’s personality cos it’s how she sees Sahar and all). So I’m just gonna draw from what I know of them and:

    I was practically dragged into this stupid event. It took ten servants to rip my mangled hair out of its usual braid into a plaited, elegant whatever, but Sahar was having the time of her life. She twisted into an improvised dance step with enough grace and energy to flare the white ruffles of her underskirt out from her violet dress. There were even some sunny yellow flowers clasping her waist. She always managed to look pretty–unlike me of course–and the bright colors complimented her deep brown skin.
    My mother probably would’ve wanted me to be more like her but Sahar was still a long-shot away from everything proper. The oil lamplight would catch her jiggling bangle, anklet and earrings with every spin of the dance and she wore jewelry like Mother wore decorum. It suited Sahar enough but they could only make me wear my kolye, the forehead chain indicating my esteemed and useless rank. Sahar wore hers too, the deep purple of the amethyst showing she was an Orme. She was so much sweetness and modesty even I couldn’t hold it against even though she looked every bit how a “young lady” was supposed to act.
    Then her inky curls knocked her shoulders and she spun to a stop. And a gleaming knife thudded to the sand next her bare feet out of some hidden pocket. I smirked. So much for everything proper.

    also hi @scoutfinch190! (The descriptions makes your story sounds so interesting btw!)

    Don't let the voices in your head drive you insane;only some of them can drive; most are underage

    #133876
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @this-is-not-an-alien

    Thank you so much! You’re brilliant!! That’s fabulous! (You know Liorah so well XD)

    Okay, here’s the next rewrite of that piece. I did end up changing their clothing, because of historical accuracy. (Or at least, historical feasibility XD)

    Sahar was bouncing with excitement, so much so that her skirt rippled around her ankles. She spun in a graceful dance step, enjoying the way her clothing swished.

    The sunny yellow of Sahar’s blouse complimented her dark brown skin and she wore jewelry like Mother wore decorum, with careless grace. On anyone else, the flashing bangles, sparkling earrings, jingling anklets, and bright colors would have looked gaudy and overdone, but they suited her perfectly.

    I only wore my kolye, the mark of my rank. If I forgot that, Mother and Uncle might pretend I wasn’t a part of the royal family. Sahar wore hers too, the violet glass bangle on a copper chain marking her as an Orme without the weight of a rank.

    In comparison to Sahar’s natural grace, I felt prim and gawky, like the yearling horses that seemed to get their legs tangled up constantly. Even the wide sash and full skirt of my white and blue dress couldn’t create the illusion of curves, and the lines of my dress somehow managed to make me look even taller than I was.

    I had spent too many hours working on the embroidery on the bodice. Perhaps I should have listened to Mother when she warned me that the azure swirls would make my shoulders look ungracefully broad. Instead, I’d told her I knew what I was doing and I would be the only person who cared what the dress looked like anyway. I shook my head to drive out the thoughts. My braid slid off my shoulder and flopped onto my back, trailing down to my hips.

    Sahar hadn’t managed to persuade me to wear it up in the formal fashion. I reminded her that it always gave me headaches and that meant I would unravel it halfway through the coronation. That meant my hair would look like a lion’s mane, which wasn’t generally considered appropriate to formal occasions. I’d done it before, and I’d do it again. The compromise was three narrow braids that merged into one thick one. It was much more comfortable.

    Who cared what I looked like? Gav would be the center of attention, as usual. All I had to do was stay out of the way.

    Sahar finally spun to a stop, giggling as she dizzily tried to regain her balance. Her inky curls bounced around her shoulders and a gleaming knife thudded next to her slippered feet.

    I couldn’t help grinning. Despite all her bright sweetness, Sahar was not a prim young lady.

    Wow, how’d I end up writing that much?? I think it’s too long, but I’m also describing Liorah and adding backstory at the same time. Still, I think I’m sinking into the ‘too-much-detail’ trap again.

    Okay, tear away y’all! Show no mercy! XD Thank you guys so much for the critiques, they’re so helpful!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #133878
    ScoutFinch190
    @scoutfinch190

    @this-is-not-an-alien

    Thanks! I’m actually considering sharing the entire story sometime if you’d like to read it.


    @rose-colored-fancy

    I think that you’re revision is great! I am able to get into the mind of your POV character and I can visualize what’s happening quite well. Out of curiosity, what time era is this story set in? Why was Sahar carrying a knife?

    We crazy people are the normal ones.

    #133900
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    I’m actually considering sharing the entire story sometime if you’d like to read it

    erhm YES!!!!! please! 😁

    Don't let the voices in your head drive you insane;only some of them can drive; most are underage

    #133924
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @scoutfinch190

    Thank you! I’m glad it works!

    My story is set in a fantasy world inspired by medieval North Africa and the middle-east, so researching the clothing for that was hard. I end up settling on historical feasibility, which just means I think of what materials and methods they have and work from there. An interesting feature of that and later times (Up to the industrial revolution) is that most pieces of clothing were made entirely from triangles and rectangles to minimize waste.

    There are a few defining characteristics that fashion of that time and era shared, for example, some necklines and sleeve shapes were very popular. I mostly play with that while drawing, since it’s entirely irrelevant to the story XD

    And here’s the part that comes right after the description:

    “You brought your knives? Why, for heaven’s sake?” I asked, exasperated. Sahar always had at least two throwing knives hidden somewhere.

    Sahar smiled even brighter, picking up the blade.

    “You should see how well it works! When I get cornered in a conversation with some Gitakan (Another tribe) boy who can’t think beyond mathematics or political structures, I just do this.”

    She picked up the dagger. Her kohl-lined eyes widened and she tilted her head as though listening to someone making an astonished remark.

    “Oh, these? I can hit someone in the heart from fifty paces. Would you like to see?” She told the invisible bystander, innocently.

    I laughed.

    “Does it work?”

    Sahar raised her skirts and slipped the dagger back into the scabbard strapped to her leg.

    “Every time. Those Gitakan boys are sissies when it comes to lethal weapons,” Sahar said, cheerfully.

    Yeah… that’s just what she’s like XD

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #133963
    ScoutFinch190
    @scoutfinch190

    @rose-colored-fancy

    How cool! It’s always interesting to see fantasies set in cultures people don’t often use.  That’s so interesting about how the fabric was cut! Your story sounds very interesting!

    We crazy people are the normal ones.

    #133965
    ScoutFinch190
    @scoutfinch190

    Here’s the revised edition of my descriptions! (Jade’s in his underwear because the monster (Fabian) was trying to make sure he wasn’t badly injured)

     

             When Jade’s eyes opened, he saw the monster seated at a workbench, holding his helmet and scraping some blue junk out of a crevice. It wore pants, but its exposed chest revealed muscle rippling under its scales. Jade gulped; that monster could snap him in pieces. He felt an unpleasant shrinking feeling within him, the same sensation he’d gotten when he was nearing the generator. This thing was too large, too strong. Jade reached for his pistol; his heart fluttered – why was he in his underwear?

    Jade’s attention focused on the beast’s handlike claws. They were strong and dexterous as they scrubbed some dried anti-freeze off the surface of the helmet. He frowned. An anthropomorph? No brainer HSI wanted the body back along with whatever he had to steal. This was anything but common.

     

    and here’s description two with the paragraph before:

     

            While the monster had no aura of malice about it, and Jade recognized the instrument, he could not help shrinking away when he realized that he appeared as a child next to this technological advancement. The monster squatted beside him, “Settle down, I w-on’t…” it shut its eyes and mouthed the next word before forcing it to its throat, “B-ite. I know I have the face uf… of a thrid.”

    Jade looked up at the creature. The large eyes peered down the long muzzle. They were an unnatural, chemical blue. Instead of slit pupils, its looked normal, almost human. He leaned away, the expression in those eyes was a plea. It has to do with his lack of facial muscles.

    We crazy people are the normal ones.

    #134072
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @scoutfinch190

    How cool! It’s always interesting to see fantasies set in cultures people don’t often use.  That’s so interesting about how the fabric was cut! Your story sounds very interesting!

    Thank you! I’m having a lot of fun with the setting. It has a very cool and unique aesthetic. It’s awfully hard to research the historical stuff though! There isn’t much information on it since it’s a more obscure part of history, so it’s really hard to figure some things out, like what they used for armor.

    For the clothing, I learned some really cool stuff! Scandinavian, European, North-African, and Middle-eastern clothing styles were really similar. Like, I’ve seen Viking dresses that I mistook for Arabic ones. I think the similarities come from the fact that they were all using similar techniques. (There are only so many ways you can use rectangular pieces) And there was a ton of travel, so the clothing was kinda similar all over.  Like, you can tell which is which, but not at first glance.

     

    That revision is awesome! I can really see what Jade is thinking and it makes sense and his emotions influence his descriptions. I don’t see anything you have to fix. Great job!

     

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #134078
    ScoutFinch190
    @scoutfinch190

    Thank you!

    We crazy people are the normal ones.

    #134093
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    Wow, how’d I end up writing that much?? I think it’s too long, but I’m also describing Liorah and adding backstory at the same time. Still, I think I’m sinking into the ‘too-much-detail’ trap again. Okay, tear away y’all! Show no mercy! XD Thank you guys so much for the critiques, they’re so helpful!

    Nonono that is not too much detail and there is no such thing as “too much detail” if you incorporate it in an engaging way and that was fun to read! It showed so much character and really brought me into the scene.

    “Oh, these? I can hit someone in the heart from fifty paces. Would you like to see?” She told the invisible bystander, innocently. I laughed. “Does it work?” Sahar raised her skirts and slipped the dagger back into the scabbard strapped to her leg. “Every time. Those Gitakan boys are sissies when it comes to lethal weapons,” Sahar said, cheerfully.

    I love her

    Don't let the voices in your head drive you insane;only some of them can drive; most are underage

    #134458
    Dakota
    @dakota

    @rose-colored-fancy Can I join in on this?

    So here is my description for critique.

     

    Her clothes hung in tatters from her body. She stood before him – or rather below him for their difference in height-, with every nerve in her frame quivering.  Each breath heaved her thin shoulders as they spilled out of her in ragged gasps. Streaks of dirt and sweat stained her whole figure. He had never seen a teenager’s eyes so wild with weakness and terror as they darted from underneath the table up to him. Those hazel eyes rounded even more with fear at the sight of him. 

    “I need a place to hide.” She blurted. 

    Psalm 119:11
    Your word I have hidden in my heart,
    That I might not sin against You.

    #134459
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @this-is-not-an-alien

    Totally forgot to reply! *Facepalm*

    Nonono that is not too much detail and there is no such thing as “too much detail” if you incorporate it in an engaging way and that was fun to read! It showed so much character and really brought me into the scene.

    Thank you so much! I’ll definitely use this piece!


    @dakota

    Sure! Awesome to have you!

    Okay, first thing! Your description is pretty good already! I like the action in the scene and the contrast in the description.

    What I’d try to do is group the description together, since it feels like you’re repeating information (Even though you’re not, you’re just detailing, which is good!) It’s kind of scattered, as if your camera is jumping around, it isn’t following the natural order of most noticeable to least noticeable.

    So, the most noticeable features you have are how small, thin, and scared she is. That’s a good starting point!

    Here’s what I’d do:

    First group:

    Every ragged gasp heaved her thin shoulders and each nerve in her wiry figure quivered.

    Second:

    Tatters of stained clothing draped around her bony figure. She was covered in sweat and dirt, and her hands and knees were scraped as if she had fallen in her haste. (Yeah, that bit is artistic license, you might need to take that out XD)

    Third:

    Her hazel eyes were too large and round for her thin face. They peered up from beneath the table, wild and weak. They looked years older than the rest of her. They rounded even more as she saw him.

    “I need a place to hide.” She blurted.

     

    See, if you do it this way, it’s almost like you’re zooming in. First, you see that she’s small and she’s been running, then you elaborate on that a bit, and then you set the contrast of her big, scared eyes against that.

    Very striking scene and I hope this helped!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #134484
    Dakota
    @dakota

    @rose-colored-fancy

    No, actually, the artistic license was a good inspiration. So,more like this?

    A teenage girl stood before him. Every ragged gasp heaved her thin shoulders as each nerve in her slender figure quivered. Tatters of stained clothing hung from her short frame. Stains from sweat and dirt covered her from head to foot. Her hands and knees were scraped as if she had fallen in her haste. Hazel eyes that seemed to large for her small, thin face darted up from the floor beneath the table to his face, wild and weak. They looked years older than the rest of her. And they rounded even more as she saw him.

    “I need a place to hide.” She blurted.

    Psalm 119:11
    Your word I have hidden in my heart,
    That I might not sin against You.

    #134486
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @dakota

    That’s much better! (To me, at least XD)

    Depending on how fast-paced your scene is, you could add a few action beats between the description. If your POV character is more confused than actually scared, this will definitely work, but if you’re in the middle of a chase scene, you could split it up more by moving the “I need a place to hide,” line up to right before you describe her eyes. Because right after that, he’d probably be taking a better look at her.

    However, this could definitely work too, it just depends on your scene!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

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