I've been mulling over this for a few days now, and since I'm late to post my From The Trenches, I figured now's a good time to get it out.
So, character descriptions. They're what let us know what a character looks like. (Duh!) I'm a visual person, so to me, they're extremely important. I like to know what to imagine when I'm seeing the scenes play out in my head. Who's throwing that axe? What do they look like? Who's saying that while waving their arms? How does this group of people look together?
While I think you shouldn't over-describe your characters (just like everything else, too much is too much!), I actually need the details. Height, weight, skin color, eye color, hair color. All those things are really helpful to me when I'm reading.
I've read a few books now that have gone quite a few chapters before they mentioned what their protagonist looked like. When they finally did, it was jarring, because I'd had to fill that blank, visual-less space with an invention of my own. Particularly when the novel's first person, we're right in our MC's head, it's SO easy to avoid how hard it is to describe them without the use of a mirror. But for me, I really need it to happen, within the first few chapters, if at all possible.
I need that visual.
Some of you may disagree. And that's what I'd like to know. How much should characters be described? Which parts do you think should be left to the imagination? How soon in a novel should a writer mention physical appearances?
Discuss in the comment box below! See you there!