Monday, January 12, 2015


Night was beginning to fall in the tranquil mountain valley, and the long workday at the Topps’ family farm had come to an end. The unmistakable sound of the elks’ trumpeting calls had also returned to the valley - announcing the beginning of their mating season. It was truly a wondrous time for the elk, but it could also be a very dangerous time; especially when the elk began wandering down the old wagon train trail from the mountains, down to where the early morning frost had not yet fallen on the tender green grasses.

 Question from the e-mail:  How do you describe a Character?

Answer: Basic description when we first meet the character! Later references to an emotional expression or other important feature.

Be careful about that first description, though. Don't let it get to be an information dump.

Describing a character feature by feature can get to sound like a catalogue. I like a general description or to describe one thing and leave the rest up to the reader’s imagination. The key thing is to describe them when they are first mentioned, before the reader’s imagination kicks in.

There’s a good example of how to do this in my mystery story, “Final Exit’ Free for an e-mailed request if  you wanted to see the description of the two main characters, a brother and sister.

       Jill leaned closer. “That woman over there thinks we’re twins.” She nodded toward a woman in large improbable pearls who surveyed them through opera glasses.

   Actually, Jon knew they looked alike. Same dark eyes, same straight nose, same generous mouth. But his hair was dark where Jill’s was fair, and his jaw was square while Jill’s pointed chin gave her face a heart shape.

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