POV Character Description - How Much?

tinkerdan

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I’m not sure I follow... can you expand the concern? Characters probably have a skin color, and it may or may not be relevant. I’m not sure what is going to get ridiculous ...?
withholding skin color, until the end--if that changes your perspective of the whole story, how could that be bad except that it tells you something about yourself that maybe you didn't want to know.

The point is that the only problem should arise if one description offered by the author is actually the opposite of another actual description offered by the author.

I don't buy this stuff where some people say they would rather fill in the description themselves, because what it really is is that those people just tend to do that when they are denied a complete description at the beginning and then set themselves up for a disappointment when their preconceived idea is nowhere near what the person looks like.

If the author hasn't given you an eye color or hair color, why would you presume to give the character those? I generally assume that the correct opportunity for description has no yet arrived and could show up any time now.

Without those then the character might show up as flat-2d and if you keep filling them in, then you might fool yourself into believing the author created a well rounded character and the joke is on you because you just did that in your head.
 

Valtharius

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Echoing what others have said: I pretty much only write physical descriptions when specifically relevant. Though I might try it more in the future. I can see how some people like the immersion effect, others find it distracting. It's a personal preference. Perhaps it depends on what kind of story you want to write.
 

zmunkz

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withholding skin color, until the end--if that changes your perspective of the whole story, how could that be bad except that it tells you something about yourself that maybe you didn't want to know.
I’m not sure why you’re insinuating along that line, but in any case, you are reading further into my concern than you need to. I’m not talking about the skin color (or any visual attribute) changing what a story means or how I interpret it. I’m talking about the fact that people look different, and if I get to know one person and go on a journey with them, it’s disruptive when that person changes in a manner that real people don’t change. When that happens, it moves the reading process from an empathetic one to an intellectual one, however briefly, which results in some signal loss.
if the author hasn't given you an eye color or hair color, why would you presume to give the character those?
It sounds like you are not a visual reader. That’s not uncommon, although I was surprised to learn it was a thing. For me, everything I read is immediately visual. Images just form, I have no say in the matter, it is how my thoughts manifest. If you don’t give me details, they will appear in my head, not as the result of some presumptuous decision, but because that’s how people appear in my head... as complete people. I can update that image as I proceed through the text, but the longer I go without feedback, the more disruptive it is if it suddenly does change.
 

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