Don’t describe your characters like you’re telling the police about a suspect. Describe your characters like you’re guiding an artist through a painting when they can’t see the model.

Her eyes were green.” Vs. “Her almond-shaped eyes glinted with emerald specs amid olive green eyes.”

See the difference? One you can just say ok, and the other you have to form that picture in your mind. You have a definite image in your mind. If you go too far, it will make the reader slow down and stretch their mind around the abundance of detail, so know when to stop.

Her almond-shaped eyes that slanted down to the sides of her nose glinted in the sunlight with emerald specs amid the olive green iris in her thin eyes, hidden behind winged eyeliner and mascara.”

Nobody needs to read all of that in one go. If it’s necessary to know about her makeup, then by all means, describe it. But you have an entire story. You don’t have to info dump every bit of detail into one line. It’s off-putting to read such a long line about one feature on one character. Also, remember that once you tell your readers that her nose slopes gently upward at the tip, you don’t have to tell them again. Once later in the story, if it is relevant perhaps, but it isn’t a feature worth repeating. Now if your pirate has a scar that will identify him in a crowd or a tattoo that you never noticed part of before, you can mention it more frequently.

The story of the Boy Who Lived isn’t half as interesting if you didn’t know about the purple-faced uncle that ruffled his bushy mustache as he locked the rusty bolt on the outside of the door on the cupboard under the stairs. This level of detail in one line is fine, as it briefly describes both the character and part of the setting. Your mind can flow from the face to the hand locking the bolt right? Keep this sort of motion in mind when forming your details.

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