Hi, it is your resident writing philosopher. Todays subject is about how to approach descriptions, as in two different sub-sets. Since I am lazy I don't go that deep.
First, we have the physical descriptions. Personally I prefer pretty loose description on people and places as that leaves it up to the readers imagination to create the person they think fits. Examples:
No1. She was someone most people described as cute, with short dark hair and enchanting eyes that you just for to see briefly as she shyly looked at you. Today she was dressed in a green summer dress
This person could look in many ways, it is up to the reader to build a picture.
No2. This many was short and stocky, nare longer than five feet tall and broader than most. His musculature was well defined and his neck muscles big after years of hard weight lifting. With a broad jaw and comparable narrow forehead his head had quite a funny form. Which was made even more comical by his big prominent nose that looked like it was taken from a cartoon character. His eyes was the only feature that excuded kindness, as the rest of his face screamed "convicted criminal". The ratty and wild brown hair didn't change that.
Okay, to much writing for me
I should just have quoted Robert Jordan describing a character over a whole chapter
The positive thing is that you really may create the personas that you want and people will get a real feel of how someone look. Also you get someone to whine about when they make a movie and the actor have a much smaller nose than described in the book.
But lets go into the other issue. Describing characters by only action or describing their thoughts. I seen people like both ways. Now I didn't think much of this before I saw the movie about C.S. Lewis were he said that characters are defined by their actions. He didn't want to talk about why they did this or that, he left that to the reader. Or at least he claimed he did, long since I read about Narnia.
Will the character Mr Spock be described as just killing the homeless man or will the writer point out during his childhood he dreamt about alien homelss men taking over the world?
Personally I have not decided on what approach is superior. I like to give insight into characters thoughts, but it can also be effective storytelling to just let characters act and let reader building up a picture of who they are based on that.