The hero with no face

A while ago I stumbled upon an excellent excerpt/article from Peter Mendelsund’s book What We See When We Read (Vintage Original). It talks about how the best novels are often very vague about physical descriptions of their characters, leaving the reader’s imagination to subconcsiously fill in the blanks.

From the excerpt:

Good books incite us to imagine — to fill in an author’s suggestions. Without this personalized, co-creative act, you are simply told: This is your Anna.

It really got me thinking about how I describe my own physical characters. I often leave a lot to the imagination and just drop a teeny hint about their appearance every now and then, but I have to say in my current book I was a little more cognizant of how readers “fill in the blanks” after I read this piece.

Read the article on Slate here


Make your characters interesting; you’ll be with them for a while

Writing a novel is sometimes tedious, so it helps to have your characters become the most interesting people you know.

I’m going through the next-to-last editing phase of my book and it’s tough. It’s hard to find the focus to write after dealing with all the varied difficulties of life like work, friends, bills, and laundry (yes laundry, it’s easy to forget about it).

Then there’s the writer’s worse enemy: doubt. Doubt that all this effort is even worth anything. It’s easy to start questioning what you’re doing when you sit down and start thinking you’ve got more pressing matters to tend to. That doubt can kill all your creativity.

BUT, none of that matters if the world you are creating is a place you want to spend time in, and that place is filled with the most interesting people you can imagine. In those trying and tedious times spent at the desk, those characters become the best kinds of friends, and guides to fantastical adventures.