fantasy · reading

On Reading Character Descriptions

So I was reading a book today – Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines. Good book. Funny. Odd. Has a type of magic that sounds ideal for a reader such as myself. LOL

Anyway. One of the characters, a sexy, hot dryad bodyguard, is vaguely described. I pictured her like a sexy female warrior, you know? Like Xena, the warrior princess. Buffy. Lara Croft. Catwoman. Other characters like that.

But when she was finally described, she was described as a fat woman. Well, so not what I was picturing! Okay, okay, so when someone tells the character is a sexy female warrior, I am really not picturing anyone overweight. That may not be PC, but it’s just not.

But that’s not the weird part. No. Jim Hines described this character like that – by size, I mean, not by hair or eyes or weapons or clothes or something else – maybe three times. Always at the perfect moments, of course, when the main character would most notice it (i. e. when he was out of his head with magic and didn’t remember who or what he was. Or wondering what he was doing with a woman in love with someone else.)

It’s just that each time Jim Hines described her, I was a little surprised because I had somehow forgotten it between descriptions and then when she was described again, it screwed with my mental image of her. It happened about three times. This forgetfulness might have been helped by large gaps between each reading. Even so.

It’s odd. That she is over weight isn’t important in the story – it doesn’t bother her, it doesn’t get in the way of anything, it isn’t important, it just enhances her own sex appeal. There is no drama, which is why Jim Hines doesn’t refer to it all that often. Plus, that probably helps the reader form their own mental picture of the character.

That’s why I was doing, twice in direct contrast to how she was actually described. That bothers me. Makes me wonder how many other characters I have done that to and never noticed.

Also, has anyone else done that? Someone please tell me they have and that I am not alone in this.

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4 thoughts on “On Reading Character Descriptions

  1. I think I did this in The Hunger Games. Supposedly there’s a character clearly described as black, but I never noticed. xD I need to re-read it anyhow.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been deep in a book when another piece of description comes out that totally messes with my image of the character. I don’t know if I’ve done the same in anything I’ve written but I do know I’ll be paying more attention in the future. Good post.

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