I spend a lot of time thinking about how to describe people. I used to be fairly general in my stories, then I started writing for Loose Id and having to complete their comprehensive cover art form. They ask for the description of the character from the text. Yikes! Suddenly tall, dark with braids isn’t enough.
I’ve talked at length about the repetitive nature of describing the color brown. Having worked for a copy chief once who had an aversion to using food as a descriptor I still try to avoid it. Have you ever tried to describe something that’s brown without using food in comparison? It can get downright insane. Right now I’m describing a character that looks like Erykah Badu. Badu has a beautifully striking face, but describing it is rife with pitfalls. Is it oval? Heart-shaped? Maybe even square? What about her eyes? The shape and color? They’re not really almond-shaped, but they’re not round either.
I love her hair in this picture and my character will wear a similar style. Then comes the burning question, just what the hell would you call that? I would call it a free-form afro with Bantu knots on the end, but we’re seeing her through his eyes. Somehow I don’t think Gabe knows all that much about hair. So he’s calling a really big-ass afro.