Elfin (imagine the swirling script here) is a brilliant, yet underused adjective.
But what does it mean?
The four most common definitions of elfin include:
> Relating to, or of, elves (duh!)
> Strange or otherworldly (like an elf creature)
> Of mischief and charm (usually good-natured)
> Small and delicate of features. “Her black hair suited her elfin face” (thanks, Google, did you steal that image from me?)
It is this last definition that comes into play most important here.
Zara, Supporting Character, is one of my most interesting characters of my novel When the Clock Broke; she’s probably the most mysterious in her determination and novel goals, yet she bonds with MC Aidelle in a stronger way than I ever expected, even with my superior knowledge. In book2, Zara gets her own screentime, her own side of the temporal ‘fracture’. There, though – despite how she may try – her darker personality bleeds through a once-naive expression. She’s a tricky and sneaky character.
The first time we meet Zara, we understand her strangeness through not only her difference to Aidelle or her new actions – but through her appearance, something over which, of course, we as humans never have any control. Yet, Zara manages to creep out of the woodwork-pages with her looks:
A girl peered out: a young woman probably in her late teens. Her face was boyish, with elfin, slanted eyes, even if her other features were not, like the dark hair tumbling down her back in tamed waves. She’d stuffed a pilot’s cap over her crown, and attempted to tuck a strand behind her ear.
Whilst Google Imaging the word, I came across a certain picture. Of course, I’ve used actors (such as Lucy Hale) to capture the visual to my description, but pictorial evidence never really came to me. Then I found the picture. It accomplishes, in painted form, what Zara would look like were she really a) an elf and b) a boy.
Notice the brooding look, the ominous tilt-and-pout, and the strong hold of his stare. Although the colours aren’t quite Zara, the pose and expression – arguably more important in a character – are exactly her. Besides, we have to include some leeway for the elf genes to manipulate her exterior.
Writers – have you ever stumbled across a picture/photo that illustrates exactly what you’ve wanted to say, but from a twisted viewpoint? What parts of their personalities would your characters’ elf-selves have compared to their usual selves?
3 thoughts on ““Zara’s Face Was Boyish, with Elfin, Slanted Eyes””
I have, and regularly post pictures to my storyboard that I use for outlining.
I find pinterest great, I regularly stumble across pictures that convey exactly what I’m trying to get at in my descriptions of characters 😀
Yeah. 😀 If I had time for Pinterest, I’d definitely have an account on there. It’s like a well of awesome pictures. Thanks for the comment!