Saturday, November 22, 2008

Putting Together Description and Believability

Another week has passed and it's almost Thanksgiving. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. Remember what the day is all about. Let's give thanks for those in our lives and for that which is good. But, don't forget to be thankful for all the trials and tribulations we've been through. Without them, we wouldn't be as strong and we probably wouldn't be where we are today.

Today's lesson is one that will put your character's description together with their believability. Let's sum it up.

Character Description and Believability

•Anton Chekhov’s descriptions of the characters in “The Duel” create vivid descriptions, making them believable to the reader. For instance, he describes character Alexander Samoylenko as having “large, close-cropped head, big nose, black bushy eyebrows, grey side-whiskers and no neck to speak of” (17).¹ More than just the physical description, Chekhov shows us Samoylenko’s personality when he writes that Samoylenko “struck all newcomers as an unpleasant army upstart. But about two or three days after the first meeting his face began to strike them as exceptionally kind, amiable, handsome even.” (17).² Because this character is described as being “docile, infinitely kind, good-humoured and obliging.” (17)³, the reader gets a sense that, although he can come across as rough, he is indeed a compassionate man.

1, 2, 3 Chekhov, Anton. The Duel and Other Stories. England: Penguin Group, 1984.

Can you sum it up? Let's see what you can show me. I've been told the best form of flattery is imitation. Imitate Checkhov's character's description and believability. Go ahead, you can do it!
Have fun!

Starr Reina


Anonymous said...


First impressions can absolutely be wrong. When you get to know someone on the inside, their inner beauty or ugliness changes their outer image.

Portraying characters can be done in all ways, from the sound of a grinding, scratchy voice that is accompanied by a distored face when they speak, to a soft glance or even the way a person stands and holds themself when they are talking or listening.

Sometimes, a physical description can be left out allowing the reader to draw his or her own picture of what the character looks like from what the author tells about them.

Thank you for the great lesson.

Terri Ann Armstrong, Author

DJ said...

I'm going to cheat and refer to a movie script called As Good As It Gets. The character portrayed by Jack Nicholson is introduced like this on the page:

"An apartment door way opens, and an enormously SWEET-FACED. WOMAN steps out... turning back to call inside to the unseen love of her long life.

SWEET FACED WOMAN: I'm just going to get some flowers, dear. I'll be back in twenty minutes. It's tulip season today. I'm so happy.

And now she turns and faces the hallway... her sweetness dissolves in a flash... replaced by repulsion, and that quickly she has reversed herself and reentered her apartment...

In the hallway, MELVIN UDALL... well past 50... unliked, unloved, unsettling. A huge pain in the ass to everyone he's ever met. Right now, all his considerable talent and strength is totally focused on seducing a tiny dog into the elevator door he holds open..."

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