What do you think of this character description?

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AlphaWolfZ
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#1
Report Thread starter 6 years ago
#1
Hello, so with my gcse exams coming up, I decided to write a character sketch for a alex rider villain. So here goes, please give me some constructive criticisms.
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Description: [Unnamed] is a human chameleon .His human features a delicate shell that allows him to blend in with the complexity of modern society. An obscure mist of delusion and charm, a permanent husk of his shattered mind and soul. [Unnamed] looks like a normal citizen, with a slightly tanned skin. An intricate blend of honey and modore, characteristic to his homeland of NZ. His weathered skin a testament to his past grueling work outside on hot summers. His back however is scarred. Long thin whip lashes leaving their mark for eternity. An area sensitive, both physically and mentally. The harbinger of painful flashbacks and haunting nightmares. His athletic and wiry body that lends him amazing agility and strength, a tottered weed compared to the jarring pain of his conscious. He walks like a predator, a Komodo hybrid of a man. A slight limp in his left leg due to an accident at birth yet not interfering with his shadow-like stealth. His face looks handsome, almost charming. A shock of brown hair in a splendid contrast with piercing crystal blue eyes. Although his hearty laugh bring smiles to strangers around him, his thin-lips remain a testament to his true nature. Along with his raspy voice, broken and hoarse after years of disuse, a constant threat to lunge like a dagger. But those eyes that receive envious looks harbor a deadly secret. A secret that was the demise of many, a secret that was their ticket to dreaded slavery. Beneath the blue contact lenses, was an eye dark like its owners soul. An eye completely black. Eyes that conceal no emotion, just barbaric flashes of cruel intent and satisfaction. Rendering him greatly powerful, using his eyes to assert command over his sub-ordinates. Dark pools of undeniable evil and twisted horror.


Backstory: [Unnamed] was born in a village in NZ. Surrounded by unforgiving mountains and centuries of mystery. A close-knit society, populated by the descendants of british entrepreneurs, farmers and miners trying out their luck in ancient barren opal mines. A village with lush abundance of vegetation and wealth. Iwiaku village. However, in close proximity was a Maori settlement. An area of ancient prophecies and dark magic. And from this unholy place, superstition ran its course. Meandering through the village like an angry serpent. And in one summer, when crops started mysteriously disappearing, swarms of insects destroying hordes of food and cattle dropped dead. And as the dark claws of poverty edged closer to the village, [Unnamed] was born. When his mother saw him, she foretold the reaction of her town, although she felt that her bizarre son was horrific, she loved him. The moment his father laid eyes on him, he died of shock and thundering apoplexy. His mother pretended that he was blind, keeping her son from prying eyes. Yet it was too late, they found him and they killed her. Torturing her in front of the young infant. As he stared uncomprehendingly at his screaming mother his fate was sealed. The took him, claimed he was the son of the devil. Tortured him and sold him to a laboratory where his life of torture started. His mind was shattered, the pain overwhelming. His soul gladly accepting the darkness and welcoming the cold hatred. Hatred towards man’s fear and revulsion of foreignity and the greed to control. He had one thing to remind him of his past, a ring. From his mother, the one and only who understood him. And on the silver sides 3 words where carved. Craved through his soul and his heart. Ataahu taku tane. My beautiful son.
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christudor
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#2
Report 6 years ago
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This is interesting. Here's my thoughts. Feel free to disagree with all of them.

I think you are too explicit in your descriptions. Readers don't like being told what to think because it makes them feel stupid and patronised. You tell the reader exactly what is going on at all times, which is a shame because this person is quite an interesting/complex character and it would have been nice to have some of these details revealed bit by bit, rather than all at once. Example: it's interesting that the guy has got 'weathered skin', but the reader might like to ponder why that might be the case, rather than immediately telling them the answer: '...his past gruelling work outside on hot summers'. (Also: Is work ever not gruelling? Are summers ever not hot? These adjective seem a bit superfluous to me)

Secondly, and this is a little more complicated, you don't really settle on a single viewpoint for your description. Do you know what 'focalisation' is? It's basically the idea that when something or someone is described, it's usually from someone's point of view. So when we read in Jane Eyre that Thornfield Hall is a very large, dark, dreary house, the idea is that we are viewing this place through Jane's eyes. We see what she sees, and we don't see what she doesn't see. So when he hears laughter outside of her room, she don't know where it comes from because she doesn't know. The narrator is limited by the 'focaliser'.

One issue I had with your description is that you don't have this limitation. Rather, you tell us things from the point of view of one focaliser, and then you say something which that first focaliser couldn't possibly know. Here's an example. When you say 'His face looks handsome, almost charming', it's as if we (the reader) are standing there admiring this man in front of us. But then you tell us a load of stuff that an external observer couldn't possibly know about this man from just looking at him, such his completely black eye, which only look blue because of the contact lenses. So now I'm thinking, 'Hang on, we're no longer observing this guy from afar'. The focaliser has changed, and I'm left a little dazed and confused.

Finally, there is something to be done with the overall tone and register here. There is something larger than life about all of this - the whip-marks on his back which will be there for 'eternity', his eyes which render him 'greatly powerful', etc. This is fine (actually, I think it's a little overblown), but then you talk about his contact lenses, which somewhat ruins the mood, don't you think?

Maybe it's because I wear contacts myself, but I just can't imagine your eternally-tortured hero fiddling around with contact lenses in the morning. It all seems a little bit mundane, and I'm thinking: Does he wear dailies? If not, where does he keep his contacts when he goes to bed? Where does he buy them from? Isn't that expensive? By mentioning contact lenses, you're bringing in a level of organisation that doesn't seem consistent with this larger-than-life, eternally-tortured, broken man.

That's not to say that mundane descriptions are not good. In fact, I rather like them. You can learn a lot about someone from small things - which goes back to my first point about being too explicit. Don't just tell us this guy is how he is, think of some observable signs that will give us a hint. An example: if I want to show the reader my character is extremely careful about his appearance, I don't want to say 'He was extremely careful about his appearance', I might describe how shiny his shoes are, or how neat and tidy his haircut is. From these observable phenomena, I let my reader WORK OUT what kind of person this is.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I may be completely wrong, but it would be good to know what you think.
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AlphaWolfZ
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#3
Report Thread starter 6 years ago
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Thank you for your chritism, i think you mistake this writing. This is a character sketch I did for a friend, i will describe a character like that. I gave this to her as an idea of a villain not a hero. I agree that a focaliser point has not been made but tis was because I wanted to show her the villain in all angles. Of course when writing this character in this story the description will much different. So knowing this extra information is the description a bit better
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