A Hairy Subject

Back to descriptions I go. I was reading something and the writer described the woman’s hair colour. I’m not going to share that because it’s not mine to share. However, I’ve come up with something similar to illuminate: Shiny as the mane of a Paso Fino.

Um no.  For a couple of reasons. One the image that comes to mind is not flattering for a human description, two not everyone knows what a Paso Fino is. It’s a horse, lovely creature but not the best colour comparison out there for an attractive woman.  I get it everyone wants to be super creative, but sometimes I think the over used ‘black as ebony’ or ‘golden as the summer sun’ get a little cliché, overused, or boring if you will.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with just using the actual hair colour and if you need to make it more interesting pick a hairstyle or make it move.  I went to Wikipedia to pilfer these terms for natural hair colour.

Natural black 
Deepest brunette
Dark brown
Medium brown 
Lightest brown 
Natural brown 
Light brown 
Chestnut brown 
Light chestnut-brown 
Titian hair (Brown orange/red)
Strawberry blonde 
Dark blonde 
Golden blonde 
Medium blonde 
Light blonde 
Very light blonde 

Maybe it’s just me but I find keeping the physical descriptions basic, understandable and relate-able a much better method of visualization than getting grotesquely over creative. I do like to incorporate the description of the person to the environment around them.

Let’s see if I can come up with some examples of over doing it to describe someone’s hair.

Her hair shimmered like the setting sun on the surface of a dark springtime puddle.
I kinda want to stomp on her face for fun…

The strands of hair moved across her neck in the gentle breeze like a field of golden wheat on a summer day. 
She is not an expanse of pre-processed bread ingredient.

His short hair shone in the moonlight like a newly picked soft yellow booger. 
Mmm well, I did that just to be gross, because I can.  😉

See what I mean? The subject matter used to describe can make or break the image. Okay how about I try again.

The light of the setting sun reflected on her dark blonde hair; framing her face in a kaleidoscope of radiant warmth.
Who fingers through that hair now?

Her golden blonde hair brushed softly across her neck from the gentle summer breeze.
Fewer crops and more jaw drops.

His short light blond hair shone in the bright moonlight.
A touch more romantic and a whole lot less gross.

Perhaps it is just me and I prefer a simple approach to how I’m going to imagine a person’s appearance. I do sometimes find too many specifics and flowery over description can trip me up when I’m reading.

For example:

She slowly ran her slender elegant fingers through her long satiny tresses that glittered in the sun like a veil of rubies and garnets. She flicked the alluring molten locks of crimson fire to rest gently behind her shapely curved ivory shoulder, like scorching flames licking a shapely sculpture of fragile porcelain.”

That’s an automatic eye roll for me. The poor woman is burning up in flames. I would much prefer a word-savvy description like this:

“Her slender fingers ran through her long dark red hair slowly. She flicked the Cabernet coloured tresses to rest behind her pale smooth shoulder.”

I would appreciate the small colour reference detail that wasn’t over the top with flowery descriptions.  A simple approach works best IMO.  It’s okay to say someone has dark brown hair without referencing dark chocolate or dark coffee. I don’t mind some creative colour descriptions in moderation and as long they fit the character and situation without giving an odd mental image. There are always exceptions and sometimes a little extra visual reference is good. But not if it’s over the top and over done I can be poetic without being cheesy. If I read

My advice about describing hair colour.
Keep the imagery appropriate and flattering. It’s not a good idea to pester the reader with too much. The only time I might suggest going overboard on a description of hair colour, is if it’s like the bright summer blue of a freshly washed Smurfs back-side. 


Other posts I enjoyed writing

That is disgusting

Hold your tongue!

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7 thoughts on “A Hairy Subject

  1. I liked the last description best. Short, sweet, but gives a great “minds eye” of description which leads you to enjoy the character, you can picture her. Conversely, if he’s supposed to be evil, I usually say something like “greasy strands of mud brown hair hung in his eyes”. (Not that he may be been delayed having a shower, but…) snickers loudly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha! “The strands of hair moved across her neck in the gentle breeze like a field of golden wheat on a summer day.” This is what I call trying too hard. How often in real life do we look at someone’s hair blowing in the breeze and think that looks like a field of golden wheat? I usually wonder what hair product she uses and where can I find it. 🙂 This made me laugh! TY!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: She’s a person not a cake | I wrote a book. Now what?

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