How much is too much when describing an outfit of a character?

How much is too much when describing an outfit of a character?
Updates:
"Fuck! What a mess!" Yuela said to herself. She went up to her television and rummaged through the bureau underneath. She pulled out her clothes and quickly put them on, settling on a black n blue hoodie and torn blue jeans. Zipping up the hoodie over her white bra, she decided to put on a shirt. She opened a drawer again, pulled out a band shirt depicting a cartoon manta ray made of a salt shaker and looked at it with a little nostalgia.

Ugh, how do I determine if something is irrelevant or not? Everyone seems to look at details differently and trying to figure it out from an author's perspective is hella confusing.

0|0
516

Most Helpful Guys

  • What you listed here isn't really all that bad but a paragraph amount would be way too much here! It's really cool that we can visualize what they are wearing if it's a book but if it's manga or anime where I can see all this happening, I feel the context would be a bit unnecessary! I can just imagine some anime girl, fantasizing about what she wants to wear for her date that would take about a minute or two worth of dialogue to talk about it xD

    0|1
    0|0
    • Yeah it's a book.

    • Update:
      What matters here is that your audience has a perception and idea of what the character looks like. Explaining what she wears more than once outside a special occasion may be unnecessary since what she wears the first time gives people a sense of identity of not only what she looks like long term but her personality in a way as well! From what you told us in your earlier update, I felt like there wasn't any wasted details and there wasn't anything too excessive you included either. You're on the right track in my mind!

    • Update 2: In that case, the details you included are a healthy amount then!

  • That was really good, you gave enough detail to paint the picture and you gave context to the decisions.
    You also didn't go overboard explaining details of the outfit like exact color shade.

    Screw everybody else, stick with that level lol

    0|1
    0|0

Recommended Questions

Loading...

Have an opinion?

What Girls Said 5

  • Focus on what paints the picture the best, what gives the true feel of what she's like and what she's doing. Does her white bra really put the reader in the moment? It's just not too interesting reading about someone choosing an outfit. Outfits only really need to be focused on when giving insight into a character otherwise it kinda ruins the flow. You can cut out from "she pulled out her clothes" to "she opened a drawer again". Leave the cartoon manta ray stuff.

    0|1
    0|0
  • Writing for a film script? Detailed is good. It helps the wardrober know what you're expecting.

    In a story that someone will read? Only thing worth mentioning was the manta ray t-shirt.

    0|1
    0|0
  • When you start mentioning irrelevant details, then it's probably too much.

    0|3
    0|0
    • For example: If you describe her as having a barrette in her hair, that's irrelevant. You can describe the kind of hairstyle she has, but does anybody care whether or not she has a barrette in her hair? Not really.

  • You should do manga instead

    0|1
    0|0
  • Every additional detail is super necessary for me

    0|1
    0|0

What Guys Said 14

  • I suppose until the descriptiveness ceases to be interesting. I like Nicholson Baker for his ability to write at length about the most mundane subjects. Here is an excerpt from a book with a paragraph on just escalator grooves as a man rides an escalator:

    >> I gave no direct thought to the escalator's grooves that afternoon, and indeed at that time I had indistinct notions as to their purpose – I thought they were there for traction, or possibly were purely decorative; grooved to remind us of how beautiful grooved surfaces are as a class: the grooves on the underside of the blue whale that must render some hydrodynamic or thermal advantage; the grooves left in loose soil or by a harrow in a field; the single groove that a skater's blade makes in the ice; the grooves in socks that allow them to stretch, and in corduroy, down which you can run your ballpoint pen; the grooves of records.

    Another one about noticing his shoe lace became untied:

    >> At some earlier point in the morning, my left shoe had become untied, and as I had sat at my desk working on a memo, my foot had sensed its potential freedom and slipped out of the sauna of black cordovan to soothe itself with rhythmic movements over an area of wall-to-wall carpeting under my desk, which, unlike the tamped-down areas of public traffic, was still almost as soft and fibrous as it had been when first installed.

    0|2
    0|0
    • And possibly keeping in mind some practicality to focus on the story being told. With The Mezzanine, he managed to fill 144 pages about a man's lunch break where he buys some shoe laces.

    • Show All
    • And he was describing the way things but how they "felt", the emotional response they give, like the sensual quality of velvet or the moist feeling of a grey morning after rain -- things I can't capture in drawing. It actually made me rather jealous since it's like all the things that I ever wanted to do when it came to art and music, he did it better with words. He could make the description so vivid and real and sensory and associated with emotions with such observational skills that I couldn't do, and often for things we don't even think twice about.

    • * And he [wasn't just] describing the way things [looked] but how they "felt" [...]

  • Does the description assist in defining the character? Are the clothes a reflection of his or her personality? Is a description of the clothing necessary to understand the current situation? Are you describing clothing to appeal to prurient interests?

    0|1
    0|0
    • I like being as thorough as possible without overwhelming the reader, which is why i asked. Also, thanks for the new word. I never knew prurient even existed.

    • People will make assumptions about your intelligence based entirely on your vocabulary. Use "fancy" words sparingly but appropriately and you will be held in higher esteem by many others.

  • Here's advice I got from an editor when I was first starting out as a writer more than 10+ years ago.

    Does it add anything to the story?
    Will putting less details take away from the characterization?
    Is the details relevant to the story? Will it show up again later?

    If the answer to these questions is NO, then you know what to do.

    The general advice: Don't be Robert Jordan.

    0|1
    0|0
  • Unless the detail will be of use later in the story then it is just a additional detail that is not necessary :/

    Good detail but I think sometimes if you put all the detail in one patch then it makes it too much, if you spread out that exact same detail over multiple sentences after breaking it up with some of the story between them then it makes it easier for reading :)

    0|1
    0|0
  • I try to think of it this way - imagine someone else describing the characters clothes on the fly with just one glance and that's how I do it. No one would notice the white bra.

    0|1
    0|0
    • i thought it made sense to include that in the description as she was naked in beginning of the scene and decided not to go through putting on a shirt and then a jacket but i can see how it could be irrelevant. Maybe I'm just not really meant to be writing.

    • But the point is that no one would ever notice the white bra so describing it would be a waste.

  • Just stick with shirt and pants only mention color or design if it is relevant to the story (personal meaning to character or hinting something in the plot)

    0|1
    0|0
  • Givus some of that context. Hit me with them examples

    0|1
    0|0
    • Is she putting the shirt over the the hoodie? You can make edits to shorten it.

    • Well at least after the scene she decides not to wear it and hangs it up instead

  • There is no such thing as too much in books. Write like Stephen king (2-3 pages) just to explain the collar of a characters shirt if you have to.

    0|1
    0|0
  • Don't mention the color of the bra, unless it will be important. If you won't see it again it doesn't need much description normally.

    Also for the t-shirt, the picture is important I think, right? But if this is the first time you see it, no one knows it is important.

    I would suggest leaving it at "her favorite band shirt" for now, and describe it more when it comes up again, perhaps during a backflash if that's the case.

    Or if you want to bring it up now so you already know what it looks like later if that would help, then you could just move the description to after she looks at it with nostalgia. That gives it a sense of importance, so that you know why it is being described in more detail.

    At least that's my opinion, it's still good now though. That's just my thoughts.

    1|2
    0|0
  • When it starts feeling like "Ahh! Stop it already!"

    0|1
    0|0
    • Your description in the update isn't too much.

  • Use adjectives but keep it too something like maybe five because you also want to focus on surroundings and other factors in the moment

    0|0
    0|0
  • Have no clue, sorry.

    0|1
    0|0
  • Never too much

    0|1
    0|0
  • when creating, aim to please yourself, not others.

    0|1
    0|0

Recommended myTakes

Loading...