Being writers makes us describers.
We introduce a main character, knowing we are required to describe how our hero or heroine or villain looks, sounds, yes, even how they smell.
Sometimes we go so far as to “cast” our books, assembling photos of actors and actresses on Pinterest boards – our dream ensemble, should our novel ever become a movie.
Recently, I found myself talking writing with a variety of published authors. The question: How to describe a character’s hair color.
Easy to do, right?
How many times have you heard brown hair – or blond or black or red – described in “heard it all before” terms?
• Brown hair – brown sugar
• Blond hair – honey blond
• Black hair – jet black
• Red hair – copper
And what about eye color?
• Cornflower blue eyes
• Chocolate brown eyes
• Emerald green eyes
The challenge is to come up with fresh words to illustrate things other authors are also describing. To take everyday things and make them ours. No, not ours – make them our characters. But how do we do that?
• Tie the color back to your character’s favorite memory – something related to their Happiest Moment. If your heroine’s favorite memory takes place during the spring, maybe the hero’s eyes are the green of new spring grass. If the memory centers around a family campout, maybe the hero’s eyes are the smoky grey that lingers around a campfire.
• Keep colors in context and connect colors back to your character’s profession or hobbies. If your character is an outdoorsy person, then maybe the heroine’s eyes are as blue as the Colorado sky – a very distinct blue, by the way. If your character is dog groomer, maybe the hero’s hair is the same burnished red color as an Irish setter’s.
• Google a specific color – blue, green, brown – and then click on the link for images. By browsing through photographs, you come across fresh images to spark new ways to describe colors. When I googled the color “brown,” a photo prompted me to describe my hero’s eyes as a “faded brown leather.” DISCLAIMER: Sometimes you run across some “dicey” images when you google a color. Just be forewarned.
What helps you be creative when describing a character’s eye or hair color?