Drawing a Likeness: describing characters

Another great post from Thorne Moore.

Thorne Moore

How much detail do you give in describing a character’s appearance? Do you convey with precision the shape of their nose, their eyes, their lips, their hair, the quality of their skin, the size of their waist, or do you leave it vague? I have read and enjoyed cinematic book in which every detail is described so precisely that all readers would conjure up an identical image of each character. Personally, though, I lean towards keeping it very very vague.

I am inspired in this by various sources. Firstly, my Latin teacher at school who was much like Mary Beard in her enthusiasm for the subject. She thought Latin should be a spoken language and wanted us to read Virgil’s Aeneid as an exciting novel. Unfortunately, she left to have a baby and was replaced by a hapless peripatetic teacher with the result that the whole class failed their Latin…

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