I recently read The Gargoyle (Anchor Books, 2009) and am compelled to share one of author Andrew Davidson’s character descriptions–one so amazing I had to re-read it right then and there, and immediately deemed it The Best Character Description Ever.
Authors often struggle to find new and interesting ways to portray their characters as there are only so many ways to depict physical traits and personality quirks. So when a novelist nails it like Davidson does in Chapter XVI of The Gargoyle, I want to bow down and pay homage. (I also want to go back to all my novels and re-write every single character description, but that’s my issue…)
So, here it is. The narrator/protagonist is describing a woman as he meets her for the first time.
“Short, but Napoleon short; the kind of short that’s always pulling itself up by its bootstraps in an attempt to look taller. Fat, but water balloon fat; with flesh not flabby, but round like it’s looking for a place to explode. Age, fifties? Hard to tell, but probably. She didn’t have wrinkles; her face was too spherical. Cropped hair, too much rouge on her cheeks; a dark business suit with a white, broad-lapelled shirt poking out; well-polished shoes; hands on her hips. Her eyes were confrontational, as if she were daring me to pop her one on the chin.”
That’s probably a longer excerpt than I’m allowed to print without permission, but hey–I want to share this and inspire people.
And if this makes you want to read The Gargoyle, which I highly recommend, here it is on Bookshop.org.