Impractical Applications (Describing Ruby)

Yesterday, I discussed how different characters might describe people in different ways. Telling isn’t enough, though, so let me show you how it works. Remember our friend Ruby, from the character development sequence? I’m going to describe her from a few other character viewpoints.

Lirit, her mentor: “Ah, Ruby… you’ll know her when you see her. She looks young and sounds younger. There is a good mind in there, though, and a lot of enthusiasm. She’s come a long way from the girl who dropped onto my doorstep with no idea what she was supposed to be doing or even what she was. I just wish she hadn’t gotten so overprotective…”

Esemeli (yes, she has a name!), demon-researcher: “Hyper girl, that one. Short words, long sentences. Don’t think she has any idea how to hold still. Can never really tell if she understands what I’m talking about or not. Doesn’t matter, though; she’s too noisy for my workroom. And the mess she made when my idiot brother tangled with her—I’m not messing with that. Even my life’s too short to deal with the kind of chaos she’s likely to create on a bad day.”

Kestrel, enemy-turned-ally-turned-utterly-confused: “She’d pass for normal, if you didn’t know what to look for. Doesn’t usually have the fangs out, isn’t as pale as the rest of her kind. Just this sweet, innocent kid who can probably tear you apart with her bare hands if you tick her off, and beats up whichever side started the fight when she can’t tell who’s in the right.”

Ereth, professional soldier and passing acquaintance: “Ah, the kid with the streaky hair. Seen her around the camp a few times. First time she’d had a bellyful of rock candy and couldn’t hold still, but there was the one time when she was hanging over the game tables, pointing out possible maneuvers with one hand, snarfing up popcorn with the other, and chatting incessantly. Knew what she was talking about; we were surprised, but we probably shouldn’t’ve been. She sounds oblivious, but there’s something about where she places herself—few scuffles I’ve seen her in, she’s always been exactly where she needs to be, or made where she was into where she needed to be. Odd girl.”

Shizuyo, ferret familiar to one of her friends, through some sort of translation: “Big, loud, but fun. Cold and warm at the same time, and smells like earth. Knows where to scratch, but squeezes too much and too hard. Should really start keeping raisins in her pocket. Good for keeping people out of trouble, though.”

If you look at all of these, you’ll notice that most have something to do with the personality or profession of the character involved. Lirit, for instance, focuses more on Ruby’s inner qualities and improvement, while Ereth is more concerned with her understanding of how a battlefield works. Kestrel’s understanding is more based on how Ruby differs from the norm for her type (given that “her type” are usually Kes’s enemies, this is pretty logical). Shizuyo looks at her from the ferret-perspective of comfort, discomfort, food and protection (and, you might note, emphasizes scent, sound and the size differential). Esemeli is the most interesting case, in my opinion: being generally antisocial and academically inclined, she looks at Ruby in terms of the differences in their educations and in terms of how inconvenient dealing with the girl would be.

Leave a Reply