I am trying to finally pull myself out of the new job daze (given that I’ve been in my “new” job for nearly a year, so it’s not actually “new” any longer) and write more. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I am excited to get back to writing fiction. The most exciting thing about doing NaNo last year was that writing fiction was a lot easier and more fun than I thought it would be.
One aspect of writing fiction that I did struggle with was physical descriptions of my characters. I realized that most books provide a description of what characters look like, and that I had no interest at all in doing the same.
I don’t create pictures of characters in my head when I read. I assume this is because I am (self-diagnosed) moderately face blind. In my most beloved book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, I have no sense of what the main character looks like. I have a feeling of who he is, but when I read the book, I picture Muchings End and Tossie’s dresses and the bishop’s bird stump and Coventry Cathedral on fire, but I never picture any of the faces of any of the characters.
(I can’t hold a clear mental picture of anyone’s face in my mind, including my own face or the faces of my closest family members and friends. I didn’t think this was out of the ordinary until a few years ago, when I realized that other people can easily remember what people’s faces look like.)
Would Harry Potter be Harry Potter without the messy black hair and green eyes and lightning-bolt scar? Of course not. However, when I think of Katniss from The Hunger Games, I didn’t realize that I had no clue what she looked like until I heard people complaining that Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t olive-skinned with dark hair. I think of Jessica Darling, from another of my favorite series of YA books, and I have no clue what she looks like.
Is a physical description of a character important to you when you’re reading?