"Don’t bother to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Be better than yourself."
William Faulkner (via this-is-some-inspiration)
We are often asked if characters should describe themselves at Writers Write. We are asked how they could describe themselves. When we came across this post by Stephanie Orges, we wanted to share some of her ideas with you. (If you want to read the full article, follow the link at the end)
Six Ways First Person Narrators Can Describe Themselves
By Stephanie Orges
1. Don’t describe him at all
Do your readers have to know what the protagonist looks like to understand the plot? If not, consider leaving it out altogether.
2. Give it to your reader straight
If you are actually telling the story with frequent quirky asides to your “dear reader”, your hero can simply describe himself during introductions. But be warned: don’t try to force it if this isn’t your style.
3. Embarrass them
Make them self-conscious about a physical flaw. She only smiles close-mouthed because she’s embarrassed by the gap in her teeth. He wishes he had biceps like the head jock.
4. Compare and contrast with another character
‘My daughter has my crooked smile, but her father’s blue eyes’. These can even create a poetic effect, as you can simultaneously compare and contrast personality traits as well.
5. Use dialogue
Her best friend gently explains dark roots are out of fashion. His father remarks he really ought to cut his hair (he looks like a hippie). Her enemy asks if she’s a natural redhead. Use compliments and nicknames.
6. Show, don’t tell
If they are short, have them struggle to reach something most others could get. If tall, have them duck through doorways. If they are unattractive, make them self-conscious around people of the opposite sex. Your hero’s appearance is reflected in the way other characters react to it.
Read the full article: Source
Source for Image
Awesome advice here! More helpful tips on describing first person narrators can be found in Literary Criticism, the Mirror Cliche, and Describing a First-Person Narrator.
Steal. It’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to.
Fuck Yeah Character Development!: Guest Article from Elizabeth: Switching Up a Too-Perfect Character1100
Whether you blog for fun or write novels, it’s essential for you to know the writing voice that is uniquely you. If you struggle with retaining readers or with being consistent in your writing, you…
An exercise for finding your voice
Not sure where to start? No problem. Most of us need help understanding our voice. Here’s a short exercise that can help you — just follow these 10 steps:
- Describe yourself in three adjectives.
Example: snarky, fun, and flirty.
- Ask (and answer) the question: “Is this how I talk?”
- Imagine your ideal reader. Describe him in detail. Then, write to him, and only him.
Example: My ideal reader is smart. He has a sense of humor, a short attention span, and is pretty savvy when it comes to technology and pop culture. He’s sarcastic and fun, but doesn’t like to waste time. And he loves pizza.
- Jot down at least five books, articles, or blogs you like to read. Spend some time examining them. How are they alike? How are they different? What abouthow they’re written intrigues you? Often what we admire is what we aspire to be.
Example: Copyblogger, Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Ernest Hemingway, and C.S. Lewis. I like these writers, because their writing is intelligent, pithy, and poignant.
- List your favorite artistic and cultural influences. Are you using these as references in your writing, or avoiding them, because you don’t think people would understand them?
Example: I use some of my favorite bands’ music in my writing to teach deeper lessons.
- Ask other people: “What’s my voice? What do I sound like?” Take notes of the answers you get.
- Free-write. Just go nuts. Write in a way that’s most comfortable to you, without editing. Then go back and read it, asking yourself, “Do I publish stuff that sounds like this?”
- Read something you’ve recently written, and honestly ask yourself, “Is this something I would read?” If not, you must change your voice.
- Ask yourself: “Do I enjoy what I’m writing as I’m writing it?” If it feels like work, you may not be writing like yourself. (Caveat: Not every writer loves the act of writing, but it’s at least worth asking.)
- Pay attention to how you’re feeling. How do you feel before publishing?Afraid? Nervous? Worried? Good. You’re on the right track. If you’re completely calm, then you probably aren’t being vulnerable. Try writing something dangerous, something a little more you. Fear can be good. It motivates you to make your writing matter.
On occasion, I write pretty well.
In which young Kurt Vonnegut, still relatively obscure, volunteers his services to JFK’s presidential campaign. Pair with Vonnegut on the shapes of stories, his daily routine, and his 8 keys to the power of the written word.