Character Descriptions

Tonight I promise will be short and sweet.

A while ago I finished Touch by Claire North. About a person whose soul can switch bodies with a touch; (s)he loves each body she inhabits. But when her current body dies a violent murder, she escapes and vows for revenge. This book asks the question of what would you do for love?

I liked it. Didn’t stand out too much in the way for books, but one feature that really stood out to me were the character descriptions.

“My hand connected with the leg of a bearded man, brown-trousered and grey-haired, who perhaps, in another place, bounced sploit grandchildren happily upon his knee. His face was distended with panic, and now he ran, knocking strangers aside with his elbows and fists, though he was doubtless a good man” (North 1).

Automatically I can create a general picture: a bearded man.

Then North creates specifics, lending enough details for our mind to fill in the rest of the image: brown-trousered and grey-haired. It’s these specifics that help our mind begin to craft an image. You need details for an image to stick. Generals aren’t enough.

And then she creates feeling – him spoiling grandchildren. Attaching a picture, a history to a character gives them emotion. Realism. 

By presenting him with conflicting actions, she creates depth: knocking aside strangers with elbows and fists.

The book continues with a lot of in depth images; people created within a few sentences. It’s a skill required for this book, for a body-jumper. And it’s a great skill for any author, which can be easily mimicked, using Touch as a guide.

North, Claire. Touch. New York, NY: Redhook Books, 2015. Print.


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