At first, I had no idea of what to blog about, and then I remembered that I was meaning to write up a thingy on character explanations and Les Mis and went “OOOOH YES LET’S DO THAT!” So anyway. I have finally finished the book, and watched the movie last night, and I LOVED IT SOOOOO MUCH ASDFGHJKL. They sang a lot, though! XD
Even if you haven’t read Les Miserables, you know that it’s pretty goshdarn long- it counts in at 655,478 words. Eek. Naturally, there’s some pretty impressive character descriptions in there.
For an example, let’s take a look at a description of Jean Prouvaire, or Jehan (his description takes up a half page, so it’s one of the shorter ones as opposed to the page-long Combeferre)
Jean Prouvaire was a still softer shade than Combeferre. His name was Jehan, owing to that petty momentary freak which mingled with the powerful and profound movement whence sprang the very essential study of the Middle Ages. Jean Prouvaire was in love; he cultivated a pot of flowers, played on the flute, made verses, loved the people, pitied woman, wept over the child, confounded God and the future in the same confidence, and blamed the Revolution for having caused the fall of a royal head, that of Andre Chenier. His voice was ordinarily delicate, but suddenly grew manly. He was learned even to erudition, and almost an Orientalist. Above all, he was good; and, a very simple thing to those who know how nearly goodness borders on grandeur, in the matter of poetry, he preferred the immense. He knew Italian, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; and these served him only for the perusal of four poets: Dante, Juvenal, Aeschylus, and Isaiah. In French he preferred Corneille to Racine, and Agrippa d’ Aubigne to Corneille. He loved to saunter through fields of wild oats and cornflowers, and busied himself with clouds nearly as much as with events. His mind had two attitudes, one on the side toward man, the other on that toward God; he studied or he contemplated. All day long, he buried himself in social questions, salary, capital, credit, marriage, religion, liberty of thought, education, penal servitude, poverty, association, property, production and sharing, the enigma of this lower world which covers the human anthill with darkness; and at night, he gazed upon the planets, those enormous beings. Like Enjolras, he was wealthy and an only son. He spoke softly, bowed his head, lowered his eyes, smiled with embarassment, dressed badly, had an awkward air, blushed at mere nothing, and was very timid. Yet he was intrepid.
See how much we know about Jehan now? He’s obviously a very cutesy, flowery, poetry-writing guy.
There’s also the fact that the last two sentences are basically me…
Anyhow, we get a really good feel of who Jehan is through this. Hugo isn’t just describing what he looks like, he’s describing how he acts, what he likes, his ideals, his loves, things he does regularly. So, I’d like to make that apply with your writing.
Write a superduper long bio for your character.
Like in Les Mis, try to explain all aspects of their personality. What do they like to do in the rain? Are they the type of person to write? What are their ideals, their loves? Using a writing prompt book (like 642 Things to Write About, which is one of my favorites) to help you, maybe. Just put it all into a huge bio that goes beyond the standard biographies.
If you do it and want to share, I’d love to see it!