Wendy Van Camp, a very nice person, recently reposted a guest post I made on her blog shortly after the Spokane WorldCon in 2015.
After re-reading it, I started thinking again about how I built my characters and how I used descriptions. When I wrote the Spirit Missions books, I wanted teen readers and young adults to involve themselves in the story. Kind of putting themselves into the role of the characters.
I felt in order to do that I needed to limit the details of the physical descriptions. I included some physical traits that come out as the characters are introduced. But, it seemed if I get too detailed, it separated the reader from the character.
So, I took something of a minimalist approach to descriptions.
This is somewhat different from authors of more adult level novels. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series has longer, more detailed descriptions of characters and places, and sometimes repeats those descriptions more than I think neccessary. That may play into the story in different ways, especially when he delves into the physical combat episodes.
One of my favorite authors is Marc Cameron. I think he does some of the best work in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan universe, as well as his own Jericho Quinn series. He does a more thorough job of character and place description, but it serves the story well and keeps the flow going.
Adult vs. Younger
As an adult reader, I enjoy reading that kind of work. I get involved in the story, but I have a more objective view of the characters.
When I was a younger reader, I enjoyed stories more when I could put myself into a character’s role and it required no effort. I think the minimal description helps.
Other thoughts? Post them below.