WritersBeat.com
 

Go Back   WritersBeat.com > Writing Craft > Writing Help & Issues

Writing Help & Issues You name it, we solve it! Ask your questions here.


Really struggling to describe faces - Help!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 09-13-2013, 12:34 AM
FX Lord's Avatar
FX Lord (Offline)
Intellectually Fertile
Official Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Second star to the right...
Posts: 188
Thanks: 104
Thanks 42
Default Really struggling to describe faces - Help!


More accustomed to writing scripts where one usually wouldn't describe the facial characteristics of a character since that might affect casting, I find myself really struggling in this department.

I have resorted to doing a bit of fantasy casting on IMDB - looking up photos of actors I think would fit the role in a film adaptation. However I find differentiating between faces quite difficult.

I suspected that I might have some level of face blindness since I often walk past people I know in the street without noticing them. However I was recently tested for this and scored exceptionally high in my ability to recognise faces - turns out it is more blindness than face-blindness and I needed a new lens prescription.

I think what it boils down to is a limited vocabulary and imagination when it comes to describing faces.

Does anybody have any tips for how I can improve my observation of faces and range of language used to describe them?

Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 09-13-2013, 03:14 AM
Whiskers's Avatar
Whiskers (Offline)
Picturing the Scene
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere hardcore
Posts: 2,009
Thanks: 858
Thanks 498
Default

You don't have to describe physical features. Readers will put a face to the people you're using anyway, so just help them along.

Mention 'high heels and stockings', and you're giving a reader a certain image already. Mention 'tailored suit' and you're giving them another, but put them together and give them a subject in your sentence?

Tonight he'd swapped his tailored suit for high heels and stockings', and you've got a... story that requires an adult audience.

But basically, you're homing in the feature that sets them apart from everyone else in order to bring them into focus and make them memorable.

Eg, A lady I know who wears glasses, she still has one eye that turns in slightly, so she'll always allow her fringe to fall over her one eye to distract from it. It's a shame she feels she has to do it; she's a pretty lady.

Not everyone will have features that stand out, but then look alone doesn't make the character, you need to bring personality of both narrator and the person being described (the example below is 1st pov):

How old was he? Early twenties? And yeah, real cat-like, too, one that had just fallen into a pool and clambered out crying, "still cool, still cool."

Prat. He could be a sweet shit when he wasn't ringing the cheeky-git bell.

So context: use the context of your story to bring your characters into focus for readers.

__________________

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

(Website warning: No under 18s (21 in some areas).

Last edited by Whiskers; 09-13-2013 at 03:16 AM..
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Whiskers For This Useful Post:
FX Lord (09-14-2013)
  #3  
Old 09-13-2013, 10:04 AM
CandyCane (Offline)
Scribbling Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 744
Thanks: 147
Thanks 195
Default

I hate describing faces, I too easily end up in description overload, so now I stick to something like, "blue eyes, hair flopping over his forehead, with broad cheekbones." and that's it I tend to make my own faces anyway regardless of the description, then they make the book into the film and i'm going "but his hair was blonde..." and then some nice person points out the part in the book it states black, don't stress it too much lol
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to CandyCane For This Useful Post:
FX Lord (09-14-2013)
  #4  
Old 09-13-2013, 10:56 AM
AnyaKimlun's Avatar
AnyaKimlun (Offline)
Samuel Johnson, obviously!
Official Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: North East Scotland
Posts: 6,942
Thanks: 2,739
Thanks 1,456
Default

Like Whiskers I don't describe their facial features in depth unless it is necessary. My current MC the descriptions runs to old bloke wearing jeans and t-shirt who has round tortoiseshell glasses. When his lover kisses him the lover complains he has stubble.

His lover has a handlebar moustache, wears checked shirts and has muscular forearms lol.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to AnyaKimlun For This Useful Post:
FX Lord (09-14-2013)
  #5  
Old 09-18-2013, 12:43 PM
Mohican's Avatar
Mohican (Offline)
Tall Poppy
Administration
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Not quite back of beyond
Posts: 4,266
Thanks: 394
Thanks 732
Default

I know this isn't your genre, but Cowboy/Western/Frontier writer Louis L'Amour was really good at describing faces.

Part of his rational was that in the American West, people would give such detailed descriptions to each other of appearance that you would then know a person when you saw them for the first time. How true that was is up for debate, but he was expert in creating facial descriptions.
__________________
If you surrender a civilization to avoid social disapproval, you should know that all of history will curse you for your cowardliness - Alice Teller

If John of Patmos would browse the internet today for half an hour, I don't know if the Book of Revelations would be entirely different or entirely the same.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mohican For This Useful Post:
Britt (09-18-2013), FX Lord (09-18-2013)
  #6  
Old 09-18-2013, 01:21 PM
Crump's Avatar
Crump (Offline)
Heartbreaking Writer of Staggering Genius
Official Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: London
Posts: 1,631
Thanks: 277
Thanks 254
Default

I tend to follow the logic that readers will make up their own faces but sometimes it may be necessary to mention facial features that have some bearing on the plot or the character's behaviour, or on other characters' reaction to them. I'm thinking here of scars, hare lips, acne, that sort of thing, or if a character is exceptionally beautiful, or ugly, or has a prominent nose for example.
__________________
Crump.

Our own right hand the chains must shiver.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Crump For This Useful Post:
FX Lord (09-18-2013)
  #7  
Old 09-18-2013, 02:30 PM
Non Serviam's Avatar
Non Serviam (Offline)
Heartbreaking Writer of Staggering Genius
Official Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,463
Thanks: 71
Thanks 590
Default

  • One glance at Juliet told me her husband switched the light off to make love to her.
  • It would be rude to say Gavin was fat, but he had an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the man with the most chins.
  • James had a face like a hippo, except his ears stuck out more.
  • Reclining on the sofa was a sensational pair of breasts. After a few moments, I noticed that they had a pretty girl attached to them. She had high cheekbones, full lips, and, well, really amazing breasts. Wow.
  • Harriet liked to say she had the face of a twenty-year old. If so, the twenty-year-old was going to be disappointed when she got her face back, because Harriet was getting it all wrinkly.
  • His name was Jethro, and he had a beard you could lose a badger in.
__________________
A few of my stories:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
;
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
;

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


English is a strange language. It can be understood through tough thorough thought though.
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Non Serviam For This Useful Post:
Crump (09-18-2013), Loz (09-22-2013), Mohican (09-19-2013)
  #8  
Old 09-19-2013, 06:35 PM
Mohican's Avatar
Mohican (Offline)
Tall Poppy
Administration
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Not quite back of beyond
Posts: 4,266
Thanks: 394
Thanks 732
Default

I have seen the following descriptions (not a complete list)
Wedged shaped face
Apple shaped face
Saturnine
Simian featured
Doughy
jug eared
Receding hairline (or for vintage - described as a widows peak)
__________________
If you surrender a civilization to avoid social disapproval, you should know that all of history will curse you for your cowardliness - Alice Teller

If John of Patmos would browse the internet today for half an hour, I don't know if the Book of Revelations would be entirely different or entirely the same.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Mohican For This Useful Post:
FX Lord (09-19-2013)
  #9  
Old 09-21-2013, 04:13 PM
Cloverish's Avatar
Cloverish (Offline)
The Next Bard
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Sin City
Posts: 445
Thanks: 9
Thanks 82
Default

Yeah, I'm with the others here. You don't need to clearly define the physical appearance of a character unless you really love the image you have in your head, and don't want any other one getting impressed onto your readers. Set it at general stuff, with like hair color, skin tone, teeth, hair design, clothing, all that, and let them morph themselves into something desirable, or gruesome.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Cloverish For This Useful Post:
FX Lord (09-22-2013)
  #10  
Old 09-25-2013, 11:10 AM
Davisstories's Avatar
Davisstories (Offline)
I Am My Own Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: SW VA
Posts: 92
Thanks: 0
Thanks 16
Default

Here's an exercise I use. Pick a friend, a family member, a stranger in the mall. Create a narrative that describes in words that persons physical appearance. Set the text aside for a week or so. Now reread. What image comes to mind. Was the person that popped in your brain close to the original picture? If not, why not. What was missing.

I've also done the same for someone my wife and I jointly know then without saying who it is, have her guess. If she says the wrong person I analyze what I did wrong and adjust my description. Works pretty good.
__________________
Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)
Reply With Quote
Reply

  WritersBeat.com > Writing Craft > Writing Help & Issues


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Free Pencil Art Book - Faces kennyc Classifieds 6 10-16-2012 01:51 AM
Torn from the Book of Faces O'Ceallaigh Poetry 4 03-09-2012 11:41 AM
Commerical Faces Sel Free Writing 1 01-23-2012 05:11 AM
Smiley Faces Gentlemen's Club (848 Words) TuxedoBoonee Fiction 9 12-24-2010 06:35 PM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:44 PM.

vBulletin, Copyright 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.