Topic: describing a character's looks

I wonder what the group thinks about the following character description:

He also thought his cadet uniform made him look more attractive to girls. In reality, he didn’t need it. He was slim and handsome, with his mother’s auburn hair and emerald-green eyes.

Generally, the advice I've received in the past is not to "tell" a person's looks, but to weave it into a story, possibly even separating the attributes as you go along so as to roll it out slowly. Personally, if I'm going to read about a character's looks, I'd rather it be done in one place, so I can picture it in my mind and then move on.

What about the above? I think I've set it up well with the first two sentences before a simple "tell". Yes?

Thanks
Dirk

Re: describing a character's looks

I don't have a problem with what you have. It's been done that way forever. This is what I have in Wilted Magnolias b/c I want folks to be breathless just as April is:

Opening the door, the women were greeted by the rumble of large mowers. A handsome young man—six-two, two hundred pounds, sun-bleached blond hair, sky-blue eyes, bronze tan, expansive chest and shoulders—walked up the steps. He wore jeans and a tank top with the high school mascot on front. "Miss Chastain?" he asked.
Gawking, April replied, "Yes?"

I don't see this as telling. It's relating what April sees and how it affects her. So, I'm good with yours.

Re: describing a character's looks

I think it's fine. The problem comes when you have two or three or more descriptions like that in a row in your first chapter and it starts feeling kind of like reading a list. So doing it once at a great time is no big deal. Just be aware of where similar descriptionsituation are and space them out or use different means.

Bimmy

Re: describing a character's looks

Norm d'Plume wrote:

I wonder what the group thinks about the following character description:

He also thought his cadet uniform made him look more attractive to girls. In reality, he didn’t need it. He was slim and handsome, with his mother’s auburn hair and emerald-green eyes.

Generally, the advice I've received in the past is not to "tell" a person's looks, but to weave it into a story, possibly even separating the attributes as you go along so as to roll it out slowly. Personally, if I'm going to read about a character's looks, I'd rather it be done in one place, so I can picture it in my mind and then move on.

What about the above? I think I've set it up well with the first two sentences before a simple "tell". Yes?

Thanks
Dirk

I have no problem with this. It tells us more about his character than his looks while giving us his looks too.

Re: describing a character's looks

not mentioned is the narration style.

In 3rd omniscient, go ahead... fire away!

But in 3rd limited, it's a little intrusive. Other than resorting to that moment the character looks in a mirror, directly narrating their looks is a step away from the narrator's "home" position. Should be used sparingly.

Compare to a first person limited: "I walked through the front door and my partner looked into my beautiful brown eyes and said, 'hi'". This is weird in a limited POV. THe temptation in 3rd limited is to go ahead and do this because it's easy - no pronoun change. Yet, it's just as much of a shift in gears to omniscient.

I mention all this because ITMG tends to lean to limited. It might be pertinent to your question