Savvy Descriptions

Soccer BallMy partner just made a writerly observation about a James Patterson book she’s reading. She noticed that the POV character in Patterson’s books often describes other characters by which famous person that character looks like, rather than statistical height-color-type data. This is a fantastic way around dropping boring descriptors into a paragraph and ruining all its momentum (at least for stories with contemporary settings).

Even more impressive is that Patterson uses famous people that the POV character would most likely think of–for example, a soccer fan describing someone looking like David Beckham but with gray hair. The brilliance of that is that you get an extra shot of the POV character in addition to getting (in just a few words) exactly what the side character looks like.

Maybe this is a trick that everyone else already knows, but it’s a navy blue moment for me. Thanks, James!

About Mary Elizabeth Summer

Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, her two neurotic dogs, and her precious prince--er, cat.
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