I have to admit there is a general degree of artistic licence when writing fantasy! But I think it is a good idea to try to keep the story as realistic as possible so that the reader can, if they get into the tale, imagine that the events could have really happened. That way the reader identifies with the characters so much more easily.
In RHAMIN I try to weave the culture and lifestyle of wolves into the tale without making it separate to the story. The same with descriptions, I try to build the characters from what is happening around them rather than just writing a paragraph describing what (for instance) a person is wearing and what colour their hair and eyes are and how tall they are an so on.
She turned her dark eyes towards me, eyes so dark they were almost black. There is no description of the character here but the picture is drawn from the story.
Another example: She moved a tress of fallen hair from her freckled cheek.
Or: The woman reminded me of a Zeppelin caught in a crosswind, as she waddled across the foyer.
How about: Matt bowed his head as he walked through the door, his jet black hair still skimming the jamb as he walked towards me. He fixed me with his dark eyes and let an amused smile trickle up the right side of his face. I couldn’t work out if he was wearing the grey suit for my benefit but there was no mistaking that it had been cut by a master tailor. As I showed him to his seat I considered if he hadn’t spent long hours under a sun bed.
‘Coffee?’ I asked him. He nodded and fingered the huge knot in his tie, nervously, I thought for someone his size . . .
Of course you could write: Matt was well over six feet six inches tall. He had black hair and dark brown eyes and a deep suntan. He wore a silver three piece suit, the waistcoat buttoned neatly except for the one bottom button which was left undone. His shirt was blue with white stripes and his dark grey tie was neatly tied with a big Windsor knot. He wore brown shoes with dark blue stockings . . .
Two different styles. Some readers, however, like to build their own image of a character, gradually putting the picture together as the story progresses. That way it does at least let them identify with the character and imagine, perhaps, that he or she is with him. I actually don’t ever recall looking at a person and noticing, let alone remembering, everything about him or her at the first glance. I get an overall impression, but the rest sort of builds as I converse or interact with them. But then, I am not likely to win any awards for total recall after a moment’s observation.
Not everyone likes to trickle the description out over several paragraphs or pages of the story.
But it works for me.
See you in next week’s blog where I will be discussing metaphors and similes.