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Thread: How might you describe this?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    How might you describe this?

    My MMC in my fantasy novel has white hair. This is uncommon, but not unheard of for people of his species. He's in his mid twenties.

    I'm trying to make sure that when describing him from another characters POV, the reader won't be thinking of old persons white hair. I tried to think of things to compare it to, but that's very cliche (white as snow, white as cotton) any ideas?

    And if this is in the wrong forum section, I apologize. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW RobertEvert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srgalactica View Post
    My MMC in my fantasy novel has white hair. This is uncommon, but not unheard of for people of his species. He's in his mid twenties.

    I'm trying to make sure that when describing him from another characters POV, the reader won't be thinking of old persons white hair. I tried to think of things to compare it to, but that's very cliche (white as snow, white as cotton) any ideas?

    And if this is in the wrong forum section, I apologize. Thanks in advance!
    I'm not sure I can be of any help. White as snow was the first thing that came to my mind. And you're right, it's a cliche.

    What else is white? Milk? As white as the unwritten page?

    I suppose I would approach it from a slightly different angle. How about talking about how his hair is so white that it reflects light? Eh.... let me think about this.
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    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srgalactica View Post
    My MMC in my fantasy novel has white hair. This is uncommon, but not unheard of for people of his species. He's in his mid twenties.

    I'm trying to make sure that when describing him from another characters POV, the reader won't be thinking of old persons white hair. I tried to think of things to compare it to, but that's very cliche (white as snow, white as cotton) any ideas?
    Dig deep.

    Lots of things are white besides snow and cotton.

  4. #4
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Just bring up that he's young and has white hair. I don't think a reader would tag his as old by just the description of white hair.
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    Totally Ninja! quickWit's Avatar
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    "His hair was white as Greenwich at Christmas time..."
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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW
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    Milky white
    Pearly white
    White like opals
    White like fresh daisies
    Baby powder-white
    White/clear/bright as crystals
    White as the moon/lunar white
    Bleached white
    White like the clouds in the sky
    White like a young lamb
    Glowing white

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    Learning to tie my shoelaces sargeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bergen View Post
    I suppose I would approach it from a slightly different angle. How about talking about how his hair is so white that it reflects light?
    True. In general white hair on a young person would be more heathly looking than old peoples hair,which can be dull and brittle ( there are exceptions as i've seen ladies in their 70s with beautiful hair.) You could have someone touch it and describe how soft and luxurious it is.
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    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    You guys have been very helpful! I really appreciate it. This has given me lots to think about.

  9. #9
    Simplify. frankiebrown's Avatar
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    You could simply have your character think that his white hair made a startling contrast with his young face.
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    The colors! THE COLORS! leahzero's Avatar
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    I have a young man with white hair in my current project, too.

    As long as you mention his age, that should be enough to fill in the mental image for readers. I don't think you really need to explain that his hair is not brittle, thin, or whatever connotation you're getting from "old person."

    Also, keep in mind that the cause of the white hair will affect the type of whiteness it has. An albino person's hair, e.g. Stephen Thompson, looks different from a person whose hair has gone white prematurely, e.g. Anderson Cooper.
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    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    Hi Leahzero. Good point about the cause of the white hair. In this case, it's just a natural hair color for people of his species. It's about as rare as red hair is for humans, though.

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    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Old people can have hair as white as anything you might want to name. I would suggest just setting up that white is a normal lifelong hair color for his type.

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    Happy Spring!! backslashbaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srgalactica View Post
    Hi Leahzero. Good point about the cause of the white hair. In this case, it's just a natural hair color for people of his species. It's about as rare as red hair is for humans, though.
    Describe it like you would describe a red-head here, then. Except with white, of course

    A bad, fast example: The assistant was a tall silver-head with blue eyes, and he paced around the lobby as if waiting for a train.

    eta: it may take another sentence later to fill in exactly what a silver-head is, btw. Or a different sort of sentence altogether. I'm just saying treat it as if it's like being a red-head.
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    If you have to strain to find an appropriate comparison, analogy, simile or metaphor for anything, chances are it will show. Or, phrased another way, if you have to strain to find it, you probably don't need it.

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    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    Though he was young, his hair was white. He was born that way.


    Well, that's not the most eloquent, but I think this might be a situation where a little bit of telling would be okay.

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW Sunflowerrei's Avatar
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    This reminds me of a novel I read where the lead female character, after a lot of stress, develops a very distinctive white stripe in her otherwise dark hair. I think in that instance, the stripe was compared to a scar.

    But in your case--something as simple as "His hair was soft, wavy, and white, a not unusual color among the ____ (species)." I'm in my mid-twenties and I have some white roots coming up and a few straight-up white strands. I always notice them more in bathrooms. I guess bathroom lights and mirrors cause them to reflect.
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    Paper-white hair . . .

    One vote for paper-white.
    Last edited by kkbe; 11-28-2012 at 08:40 PM. Reason: public voted, nix on the ron paul ref.
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    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    srgalactica!

    My question-how important is his white hair? Sometimes physical descriptions are not all that important.

    That said, I bet if he's young and has "white" hair, then Richard is right on with platinum blond.

    Love the shades of white Melinda provided as well.

    Just make sure that description is essential to your story.
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  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    Thanks again guys! So many great ideas.

    Susan, in answer to your question, his hair color isn't important to the story, however, he does eventually become the FMC's love interest, so I figure his appearance would require a bit of description from her POV. I tend to like to pick one or two physical features that get a very brief description in my books. Since his hair is rather uncommon and it's something my FMC would definitely notice, I thought it deserved a mention in the scene where the FMC first meets the MMC.

    I think I will end up going with a simple description and not strain for the metaphor as was suggested.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW gell214's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srgalactica View Post
    he does eventually become the FMC's love interest, so I figure his appearance would require a bit of description from her POV.
    I don't know if this is what you planned to do, but maybe you can use your FMC's POV to describe the white hair? Since the color is only made worth mentioning because of her, then maybe it is her part to notice the white hair. This way, the readers would imagine the white hair in her eyes. Something like: she never would have thought this guy worth a second glance, except that his hair was, despite his youth, white. It gave him the look of having wisdom beyond his years, she thought. Just an example . Hope this makes sense .
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    practical experience, FTW
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    Most commonly, young people with white hair are referred to as having platinum hair. But, as others have already noted, you could simply establish that your character is young and then refer to his hair as being "white/pale/fair". You might even reference the fact that his hair was as white as the day he was born or something of that nature.

  23. #23
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srgalactica View Post
    Thanks again guys! So many great ideas.

    Susan, in answer to your question, his hair color isn't important to the story, however, he does eventually become the FMC's love interest, so I figure his appearance would require a bit of description from her POV. I tend to like to pick one or two physical features that get a very brief description in my books. Since his hair is rather uncommon and it's something my FMC would definitely notice, I thought it deserved a mention in the scene where the FMC first meets the MMC.

    I think I will end up going with a simple description and not strain for the metaphor as was suggested.
    It sounds like the hair color is not important at all. I'd leave it out then, as we tend to come up with our own mental images anyway.
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  24. #24
    The grad students did it NeuroFizz's Avatar
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    When pure white hair is mentioned in a young person, I immediately thing of an albino, in which case there will be a suite of distinct physical characteristics lacking pigmentation. In your world I presume you are wanting this person to have a lack of hair pigmentation without the other characteristics of albinism.
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    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    Susan, it's important in that it is very distinct. I think it's worth noting

    Neuro, you're correct. Albinism isn't what it is. I'm thinking white like Drizzt.

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