Every once in a while, an author makes a seemingly conscious decision to use piss-poor language to describe a central character. Occasionally the description is evocative enough that the author decides it is all that is needed, and he may even use it more than once. However, poor language can become a crutch. This should be avoided.
This brings us to Rule 39: Do not beat the reader over the head with descriptions that say next to nothing.
Rule 39 is prominently violated by the dearly departed fantasy author, Robert Jordan, in his 13 book epic Wheel of Time series. The following is a collection of descriptions of character Lan Mandragoran, drawn from multiple books throughout the series. Citations compliments of Google books.
From the Wheel of Time series:
- The Eye of the World (book 1):
- The Great Hunt (book 2):
- The Dragon Reborn (book 3):
- The Shadow Rising (book 4):
- The Fires of Heaven (book 5):
- A Crown of Swords (book 7):
- And from the Eye of the World series, From the Two Rivers:
Taken individually or together, these descriptions lead to only one possible mental image:
|A stony face all planes and angles.|
This is a composite sketch from the many descriptions of the character. What could Lan be, but a face all planes and angles? Twin-tailed plane for lips? A plane for a nose? Biplanes for eyes, perhaps? As for the angles, his description does not reveal the true degree measurements, so the true angles are unknown. There is a gray tinge in his hair, and his face is kind of like stone. The character, as described, may have difficulty passing through society without notice.
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