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In which I describe real-life people as if they were in a romance novel

Now, anyone who has read a romance novel knows that how the characters are described tend to be a bit more flowery than how they would actually be described in real life. So, I have a list of friends/relatives (Johana, Ben, Ari, Fionn, August, and Faith) and I’ll tell you what they look like, then how they would (maybe) be described in a romance novel.

This is also my way of trying to learn how to describe my own, not-real characters better.

JOHANA

How most people would describe her: She’s an average height, with brown hair reaching a little bit past her shoulders and brown eyes.

How she might be described in a romance novel: She’s of a common height, a little bit shorter than me. Her hair is the color of rich, black coffee, and it cascades down her back in elegant waves. Her eyes are like melted chocolate.

BEN

How most people would describe him: His height is about normal; he’s a bit too short to be tall, but not short enough to be considered short, either. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

How he might be described in a romance novel: He’s taller than me by a hair, just enough so that I need to tip my chin back to look at him. His hair is dark and slightly curly, and it looks so soft. His eyes are a hypnotizing brown.

ARI

How most people would describe her: She’s slightly short and very fit. She has brown hair and brown eyes.

How she might be described in a romance novel: She’s curvy and draws the eye. Her hair is up in an artfully messy bun, and her eyes are the same deep, dark brown as the black coffee in my hands.

FIONN

How most people would describe him: He’s tall and skinny, with blue hair and hazel-green eyes.

How he might be described in a romance novel: He draws the eye in any crowd; he’s tall and long limbed in a way that would make most people seem awkward, but on him it’s perfectly proportioned. His hair is dyed a bright, brilliant blue. And his eyes…they’re hazel and green and blue all at once, and I could get lost in their depths.

AUGUST

How most people would describe him: He’s tall and blond, and has blue eyes.

How he might be described in a romance novel: He’s well-built and I dreamily imagine him wrapping his strong arms around me. His blond hair is curled and tangled, and I long to run my fingers through it and smooth it down. His eyes are the color of the river in the afternoon.

FAITH

How most people would describe her: She’s short, and has blond hair and blue eyes.

How she might be described in a romance novel: She’s waifish and has a dancer’s lithe grace. Her flaxen hair tumbles across her shoulder in neat waves. Her eyes are a clear, pale blue blue; the color of the sky on a foggy day.

So…this was slightly awkward for me to write. More so than I thought it would be.

But what do you think? Do you think that characters should be described simply, or do you like the flowery style of a romance novel’s description?

Happy Sunday,

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5 thoughts on “In which I describe real-life people as if they were in a romance novel

  1. I think the type of description should be fit to the narrator as well as the relationship between the characters; someone the MC doesn’t like should be described with harsher phrases, as opposed to the soft ones for the MC’s friend. The flowery language tends to be appropriate for romantic or sexual interests mostly because that’s what’s expected. But the narrator is important, too, especially if you’re in first person; two different narrators would describe the same person differently–by using both different focal points and different adjectices/verbs for those focal points.

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    1. That’s a good point. I think often what turns me away from romance novels is that you’ve got a sort of rougher main character, but they get super flowery and prose-y when talking about their LI, even though it doesn’t fit their personality AT ALL.

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  2. That’s so funny! I really don’t understand why authors feel the need to have flowery character description in romance novel. I don’t know for other people, but personally, it throws me off. I mean, except if your book is set in the 16th century or something like that, nobody describe people that much in our days. I think characters description should fit the setting and the narrator’s voice.

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