Having difficulty describing a character?
Describe where they live.
The details of a home or a home environment can serve your character and your story in many ways. First, symbolically, like Huck Finn’s raft, a haunted house, rooms that are always cold, libraries filled with books that are never read (Great Gatsby) or a back door that stays unlocked.
Until we stop and consider it, the house has always stood as a solid metaphor or analogy for characters and plots. Many authors use the idea and symbolism of the house in their work including Virginia Woolf (A Room of Her Own), Jack London (Little Lady of the House), Edith Wharton (House of Mirth, Age of Innocence) and of course Downton Abbey which is a whole show centered around the house.
We love houses, we are drawn to them as evidenced by real estate shows, DIY shows, extreme home make over, and Hoarders. I think Hoarders is especially popular because you can slump in your green sprung couch surrounded by Little Caesar pizza boxes and 1997 issues of National Geographic and say, well, at least my home isn’t as bad as theirs.
The second part of this conversation of house as a metaphor is if course, what does your own house or room of your own say about you?
In a recent issue of O magazine, Martha Beck suggests that when you describe your house – quickly – the ten minute write way – you will have created a metaphorical description of your inner world.
I haven’t done it myself – too scary.
Homes, our living environments, reflect directly on our character. You can use that information to evaluate your life, give a third dimension to your fictional character or the very idea that our furniture is a reflection of our inner lives can just inspire you to re-consider that green couch.