A while back, I was reading a novel written by a best-selling and highly acclaimed author. I had in my mind an image of the main character. Suddenly, the author decided to just tell me his main character looked like Denzel Washington.
As a reader, I felt insulted. Worse, I was robbed of part of the experience of reading because the author insisted I see this character exactly the way he did. He was evidently too lazy to describe Denzel Washington and let me come up with that image on my own. He wasn’t taking any chances that I might “cast the role” with someone else.
Character description can be tricky, I suppose. Either too much or too little can diminish the experience for the reader. As an author, I like to provide just enough description to invite the reader to participate in completing the picture in his or her own mind. That represents an investment the reader is making in rendering real the world the author has created. It helps the reader suspend disbelief, hate or love a character, relate instantly to the situations and emotions your characters endure. I wouldn’t think of depriving a reader of the richness of that experience.
That’s my grievance—what’s yours?