Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Junior Contributor I
The Fluidity of Physical Descriptions in Book Characters
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about the dissolution of the physical descriptions of characters in books if the narrative does not periodically draw attention to their descriptions, and particularly if the character’s physical description is not a crucial part to the story (e.g. Harry Potter’s tousled hair, scar, and "eyes like his mother’s," etc.). Instead, we posited, readers start to develop their own visions of the characters in their mind based on the people in their life with similar personalities. What are the psychological factors at play here and what are the ramifications of this? Is this valid?
Alternatively, how critical are physical descriptions in casting adaptations of novels? Are they more or less critical than establishing the same personalities/motivations of the character in the novel? Why?