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Length of Full Description

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Length of Full Description

Postby GreenRiver » Mon May 26, 2014 1:32 am

As many of us are working on creating characters at the moment, I wanted to get people's thoughts on full description lengths.

I can see the appeal of fully detailed lengthy descriptions, stemming from a desire to flesh out a character as much as possible in the space provided. I've done this myself in the past.

But I can also see the advantage of a pithy, to the point outline, using broad strokes to give an impression. I know that when in game, I often don't have time to sit and read a long paragraph of a character's description, due to needing to react to what's going on at the time, so much of the detail gets missed.

What are people's thoughts on this? Are long fully detailed character descriptions the way to go, or is less more?
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby alexjones » Mon May 26, 2014 4:27 am

Personally I tend to keep my descriptions pretty short, because frankly I'm really not all that good at them, but if people want to do long descriptions that's fine by me.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby Hawkwind » Mon May 26, 2014 7:08 am

A good sized paragraph is normally what most people expect.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby Octavius » Mon May 26, 2014 8:34 am

If I have to press the spacebar to continue reading your desc, I don't read it.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby hobbitboots » Mon May 26, 2014 9:44 am

A smart dude once remarked that brevity is the soul of wit.

Then again, I've heard people complain that Tolkien's writing is long-winded.

I think largely it's a matter of style and skill. You certainly run the risk of boring your reader if you write a bunch that ends up being fluff.

Personally, I find that overly long descriptions give an impression of vanity, like the writer is writing more for their self rather than their fellow players.

In general, I aim for around 6-8 solid sentences, though my current alpha character is sitting at just 5 right now. I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from pursuing whatever style floats their boat, though.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby Nyneve » Mon May 26, 2014 11:38 am

I'm bad about being wordy, but I don't think there's anything wrong with either. Happy mediums! I don't like to measure in sentences, but in inches. Mine is 5 sentences, but those sentences contain many commas, colons, and semicolons because I'm a bit of a rambler. My general rule of thumb is literally a "rule of thumb:" if, when I put my description into a wordpad with the spacing set the same as my MUDclient, the paragraph is longer than the length of my thumb, it's too long.

Is that weird? I'm weird.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby Icarus » Mon May 26, 2014 12:53 pm

^ This one knows what they are talking about.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby tehkory » Mon May 26, 2014 12:53 pm

hobbitboots wrote:brevity is wit

ftfy
If you want to get the character's description/physical features in a heartbeat, we've got that set up already: short descriptions. If you want to read an extended description of what a character has and is wearing, well. That's what fulldescriptions are for.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby hobbitboots » Mon May 26, 2014 1:16 pm

"My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief."

Really, this passage is very clever. On the one hand, I agree with Polonius that being overly fluffy can be boring to your audience, he is hardly being brief in expressing it. Actually managing to show how flowery language can be clever, too. Something Tolkien is also good at. Like I said earlier, it's largely a matter of style.

:geek:
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby Olthadir » Mon May 26, 2014 1:32 pm

hobbitboots wrote:"My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief."


My class had a nice discussion on this very quote last week. It has more wisdom in it than folly. I love Polonius.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby Tiamat » Mon May 26, 2014 2:28 pm

Generally, for full descriptions, I like to think of it as giving a broad lay of the land of what your character looks like. No need to describe every detail of your character's pores (unless he has some kind of skin condition that'd be really obvious), or every scar GI Joe's gotten. It's sort of like a teaser; you want to leave the reader wanting to learn more about your character and enough information to work off of in a scene. And yes, if I have to read two pages worth of your character's description in a standard 80-line client, I'm not going to bother reading.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby Pallando » Mon May 26, 2014 6:44 pm

As Tiamat said. It's like a good author: they paint just enough of the picture for you to fill in the rest with your own imagination. Plus, chances are, the longer you make it the less people will actually read the entire thing :)
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby sod » Wed May 28, 2014 9:23 am

I like thinking about the format of full-descriptions and how they fit a character. If it's a character who is really verbose or vain, I like them really long and purple. If it's a character whose character is nondescript, it's nice to describe them in very concrete, brief language. Probably very medium = the message, but I find it hard not to ascribe certain traits to the way language is used to describe something, in addition to the direct meaning of the words.
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Re: Length of Full Description

Postby GreenRiver » Wed May 28, 2014 2:05 pm

Thanks everyone for the input. It's been helpful. :)
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