How should I go about describing a characters appearance? I remember hearing someone tell me about how in Ulysses, Poldy's appearance is intentionally left vague so the reader can project themselves onto him easier. So my question is what is/isn't important to tell your reader about a character's looks.
Also writting advice general I guess
IMO describe only the most distinctive features and use general terms like 'attractive' or 'unattractive' or 'unconventionally attractive' or 'plain' or whatever, building a frame of sorts for peoples imaginations to fill in
Appearances that lend to their character. Like if he's blonde, why is he blonde? Cuz he's naive or he's pure or to emphasize his skin colour. If he's just blonde cuz you want to add words to make the book sound nice, that's pretty pointless
Do not write a paragraph like:
>Everyone thought Anna was pretty except Anna. She didn't know why everyone thought she was pretty. Anna had hair that was as black as a moonless midnight, eyes as blue as a carribbean lagoon, a perfectly symmetrical face, super huge and awesome tits, tanned and toned long legs that drew your eyes up to her perfect ass that would stick out in a perfect round bubble shape when she wore high heels to high school. No one knew why Anna liked Tom, the loser nerd who wasn't very good at football. He was the smartest kid in the state, though, so maybe she liked that. Like he was so smart he skipped two grades and took the SAT as a freshman and got a perfect score but it was no big deal because he didn't even study. No one knew why Anna liked Tom but she liked him anyway so that made her really cool. And since Anna like Tom, he was determined to do anything he could for Anna because he loved her and he wanted to show her how much he loved her and how she would never be alone again because he would cook for her and run her errands and make sure all she had to do all day was lie in bed and be happy and then they'd make love like 3 times a night and they'd live happily ever after in their perfect life.
This is what neckbeards actually write. Do not write like that.
It's more effective to characterize someone's appearance based on things they can control rather than on things they can't. It says more about someone that his shirt collar is untucked and he has crumbs on his collar, than he is X inches tall or has this-or-that color of hair.
I meant shirttail untucked but you get the idea. For a woman, maybe she wears designer shoes that look brand new, or sensible leather flats that have been mended 5 different times. How does she wear her hair, what is the image she is trying (failing?) to project? Glasses? All these things are much more interesting than basic statistics like you'd see in a missing persons description.
These sort of descriptions boring and overused. They're necessary and helpful to the sotry when they are used very, very sparingly, but when used as a crutch in lieu of creative ways to set a tone, they're just lazy.