In my last few posts, I talked about different ways to describe. This isn't your typical description, but a way of getting deeper through writing scenes in different ways. I talked about writing scenes with different overall emotions for your main character, and I talked about writing scenes from different points of views.
Today I want to take the point of view angle a little further. Who your point of view character is will affect how he or she describes things. This is not a new concept. But I think it's one of those concepts that we know, but don't usually find a lot of time to put into practice. So here are some ways to get into your character's head and see what he sees.
What does he own? What's on his desk? Under his bed? In his closet? If he has his own bathroom, what's on the counter? Is he neat or messy?
What thrills him? Hobbies? Interests? Addictions? Favorite foods or movies or video games?
What about his moods? What does he do when he's happy? Sad? Does he eat food when he's sad? Does he dress in certain clothes when he's feeling lazy? Any strange habits?
Now, take all this knowledge and send him to a house he's never been to before. As he looks around the place, what does he notice first? What do his eyes linger on? These things tell the reader a lot about who he is. This is getting deep.
For an example, I'll use two brothers from Captives and how each described the office of the task director general.
Mason: Mason pushed open the door and entered what felt like a modern palace. The room was furnished in black and red, with hardwood floors and windows that wrapped around three walls, exposing a vast view of the valley below. Mason felt like he was walking among the clouds.
Omar, a guy who's obsessed with riches and art, spends more time looking around. He notices color and design. He likes what he sees. Mason is thinking about other things. He notices the room, of course, but ends on how it makes him feel.
And there are more differences about these two brothers. If Omar and Mason walked into my house, Omar would notice the movie shelf right away, and the video games. He'd be looking to entertain himself. Mason would notice the mess. The clutter. He might hope no one in my family had a dust allergy. And he would probably start asking questions about the electric muscle stimulator sitting on out kitchen table. We borrowed it from a friend when my husband pulled a muscle in his back.
So, try this with your characters. What types of things do they notice when they enter a new place or meet a new person (as this works with describing people too). What do their eyes linger on? What intrigues them?
Be sure and hop over to the Playlist blog, where Stephanie is giving away a copy of the Go Teen Writers book at the end of her super cool interview with Rachel, who won the "Respect Your Dream" essay contest, and Rachel's writing partner, Keely.