Lingerie Linguistics

Good descriptions are like lingerie.

That’s why the characters we love in books never look how we imagine when we see them on the silver screen.

It’s not some casting agent’s preference or the director’s mate or the need for a star to lead the line — although those can be reasons.

The main reason is that there wasn’t much of a description in the first place.

That was probably the best lesson I ever learnt about writing character descriptions: Don’t.

A sentence is often more than enough:

Small and pale, with a mess of black hair and a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.

Her hair fell over a sheer cliff of cheekbones in a soft golden wave, rising gently to curl against a blood-red purse of lips.

He was a giant of a man, with calloused, hairy hands and a voice like a gravel driveway.

Everything else happens in the reader’s mind.

That’s why nobody likes to read those overly lengthy, dense descriptions slung with similes.

They’re probably fantastic examples of communication, but they don’t leave much to the imagination.