Today’s Writing Tip

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Have you ever read a scene in a book and realized you had no idea what that character looked like? I really appreciate it when the author provides that information. However, I’ve heard some say that they think the reader would prefer to imagine him or her as they like. Personally, I think that is the author’s right and responsibility. If I want to invent a character, I’ll write my own story.

There’s also the matter that some descriptions need to be repeated as reader reminders. This is especially true of minor characters who may have been described several pages or chapters previously. It never hurts to drop a hint every now and then. Another great identifier is a gesture or some other habit that is linked to a given character. For example, maybe she tosses her hair or he plays with his mustache.

This same advice goes for certain settings and locations in your story. If you do a good job the first time, you can minimize them later. Imagery makes a story come alive. If you want your reader to visualize the story as you did, you need to provide this information.

Today’s Writing Tip

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When you have a huge cast of characters, remind readers who the minor ones are from time to time so they can keep them straight. Placing them in a scene that fits their role sometimes will suffice.  Having a dramatis personae is also highly recommended. This is a list of the people in your story and who they are. In highly populated novels these are greatly appreciated by readers, especially those without steel-trap memories or who may take a little longer to finish a book.

If your book is published in both print and electronic form, make sure the character list is included in the e-book’s table of contents so readers can refer back to it more easily.