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Monday, December 27, 2010

A New Novel, Part 85 Physical Description

I built the setting for chapter 8, so we should expect the focii to be sorcery, the Bockmanns, and German class.  Indeed they shall.  Right now, I use the writing technique of description through another's eyes.  I like to interject this in my novels especially for the main characters.  Unlike many authors, I know what my characters look like, and I have not written a novel where I intentionally made a generic character.  A generic character is one that the reader can directly connect with.  Such a character is intentionally not described well so the reader can associate themself better with them.  On the other hand, my characters are specifically created not to be generic.  I try to draw them crisply.  The reasons for this are first, each character must be unique.  My themes demand this, and I don't want the ERB (Edgar Rice Burroughs) effect where a reader can't tell one of my characters from another.  I write each of my characters in every novel to be their own person, so different from one another that there is no way to mistake them.  Second, the characters make the novel.  If the characters are generic or if they blend, then there is no way I can design a powerful theme.  So, I like to remind you of the characters salient physical descriptions and I especially like to do this thorugh the eyes of another character.  In this case, Freifrau Bockmann.

Freifrau Bockmann gazed at her two charges. The one had a boyish figure and a sharp face. It was so typically Russian it almost hurt to look at her. Her features were not very lovely, but her clothing fit her perfectly and she was dressed exquisitely. Her hair was arranged with a touch of genius. The Lady Natalya had made the most of so little although Freifrau Bockmann thought she could see evidence that it was finally growing out. The young countess before her might not be very lovely to look at but her manner and manners were perfect. She sat and stood and walked exactly as you would expect from a countess or even a princess. Yes, she had the perfect demeanor of a princess. Plus that look in her eyes. The Countess Aksinya’s eyes gave an impression of majesty, strength, and power. That seemed very odd to the Freifrau Bockmann.

The Lady Natalya, on the other hand, was a perfect opposite to her countess. Her face was lovely. Her figure was like an opening bloom. Her proportions were exact and perfect. She looked like the picture plates you found in novels about the royalty. Her appearance seemed like a perfect reproduction in life of one of those still portraits. She didn’t show the exact and perfect decorum the Countess did—her face and actions were much more lively. She seemed the exact counterpoint to the Countess, and the Freifrau Bockmann knew, they were both very intelligent.

There is much more behind this description that simple description.  See Aksinya, boyish figure, sharp face.  If you haven't seen a Russian woman with these types of features, I suggest you take a look at Russian nobility.  Many times, their features are so Russian, they are difficult to look at.  Ugly is not a proper word for such features, but they are exaggerated. Note, the beauty of Aksinya is in her deportment and manners--in this regard, she is perfect.  The Lady Natalya draws out the most from Aksinya's meager endowments.  This is that Lady's gifts.  The Freifrau observes that Aksinya's hair is growing out--do I need to explain why this is important?  Look at the description of Aksinya's deportment--like a princess.  The repetition is intended to seal this idea in your mind.  This is a foreshadowing that won't see fruition until chapter 17, but you've had this foreshadowing before.  The Freifrau also notes the odd look in Aksinya's eyes.  Remember, Aksinya appears young though she is nineteen (changed from the original age of 17) at this time.  The Freifrau notices her maturity, but we knew that. 
Natalya appears physically like a perfect noble lady.  So perfect, the Freifrau compares her to a portrait.  Natalya is much younger.  I'm not certain I told her age, but I intended her to be fifteen.  She and Aksinya are comparable, nonetheless.  Comparable because Natalya appears more mature physically and Aksinya appears less mature physically.  Aksinya's age also indicates she likely won't grow much more.  If you think about this very deeply, you will realize a painful truth for her--she will not change much.  She has reached the peak of her physical beautify and yet, she is not beautiful.  Tomorrow, school from the impression of Aksinya and Natalya.

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