Thursday’s Children May 30, 2013

Inspired by Bedrooms…

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

Alright, alright, get your minds out of the gutter, I’m talking about what bedrooms look like, not what takes place in them. To date, all my books have been YA. Teens usually don’t have much say when it comes to how a house is decorated, with the exception of their own bedrooms. A bedroom is a private domain, sometimes a refuge from what happens in the rest of the world. This room is also the one that is most likely to reveal the interests and fundamental traits of its teen inhabitant.

Writers can exploit this sneaky way of “showing” the reader facets of a character’s personality.


Here’s what my MC has to say about her own room…

I found I had a strong opinion about what color to paint my room. I’m not sure who was more surprised—me, or Mom. Instead of going along with the bright pastels she preferred, I insisted on a color which she named Dismal Drab. It was neither blue, nor green, not gray, but a soft misty tone that hovered somewhere in the middle. Like me, it was vague, nondescript, elusive.


She is obsessed with a boy named Sam. Here’s what she has to say about his room…

He slid what looked like an old barn door along its track, revealing a spacious, airy room inside. A row of windows at the back looked out at the sea. Mounted on the walls were several skateboards, a surfboard, antlers, a longbow, stone arrowheads in a glass-fronted case, and shelves holding the skeletal remains of numerous small animals. Suspended from a branch in one corner was a huge paper wasps’ nest. Long planks ran under the windows, forming a desk covered with scattered papers, drawing pencils, shells, and feathers. Comic books, skater magazines, CD cases, and hunks of driftwood littered the floor. So. This is where Beauty lives. It was perfectly imperfect.

photo from ebay

photo from ebay

photo from pbase(dot)com

photo from pbase(dot)com

In my book FOOLISH, the MC’s mom is a hoarder. Sparrow’s room is her safe haven and it’s neat as a pin. An OCD pin.  She has laid down the law. Phil (her name for her mom’s hoard) is not allowed entrance.

Do you use decor to help readers learn about your characters? Which rooms do you like describing?
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60 thoughts on “Thursday’s Children May 30, 2013

  1. Hey! Love your descriptions. You’re right- you get a real feel for the characters by how their rooms are decorated.

    I like to describe kitchens, personally. Part of it is I’m just obsessed with food, but I think you can also learn a lot about a person by their kitchen: is it used, unused, neat, messy, stocked, empty, etc.

    Happy (early) Thursday!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever written a description of a bedroom. Kitchens, living rooms and outdoor spaces are usually where I add detail. This is a good idea!

  3. I agree with jlobeth- this character sounds fascinating!
    Also, I’d like to say that I love your posts because every time I read them I learn something new about writing. Usually, it’s a simple point that, when applied, makes a HUGE difference in a MS. For example, as silly as this may sound, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to REALLY describe my main character’s bedroom and this is soooo important! As a newbie writer, I’m very grateful for these posts. Thanks Rhiann!

  4. I loved your snippets! 😀 Got a chuckle over the one where OCD girl forbids hoarder mom to enter–usually that role is switched between daughter/parent, but I also sense this scenario a sad thing.
    Have to agree with Sam’s room being beautiful–and that blue/green muted color runs throughout my home, but it’s not drab! It has this incredible life where it morphs into different shades depending on the lighting (the bluish tint keeps it vibrant). I lurve all the hues.

    My MC has an ocean theme that suits her lively and quixotic personality. 😀

    • Well, I don’t think of that color as dismal drab either (I’m much more like my MC than her mother, lol) and I also love the colors that change with time of day, season etc. And yes, you’re right there is a good deal of sadness in my hoarder story.

  5. My MC is a monk and physician so I get two rooms, his sparse monastery cell (with a few discreet personal touches) and his medical rooms (lots of bowls, herbs, medical items). Vastly different spaces, so much fun to describe!

  6. I love my L.I.’s room in Imperfectly Fine. It’s part dreamboat teen idol, part mystery, part superhero, and all nerd. ❤ I love describing characters through their safe havens. Great post, as always, Rhiann!

  7. I just want Sam’s bedroom. It sounds like the best place ever. How true it is that bedrooms reveal so much about characters… makes me want to meet Sam, actually.

  8. I like several things here, like the mention of driftwood and the fact that the obsession with hoarding is named Phil. 🙂 Unfortunately I never got to decorate my room. Up to the day I graduated high school it was pink flowered wallpaper, pink flowered quilt on a white day bed, with Precious Moments hanging up everywhere. I did draw the line though when I got married and told my husband the Reggie White poster was not going in the bedroom!

  9. Great insight into your characters… I totally agree on revealing your character through their quirks and things around them. I do this all the time too:)

  10. Great descriptions – yes teen bedrooms do tend be decorated with all sorts of statement pieces. I always like the odd ‘little kid’ things that don’t really fit, but has sentimental value.

    I also love that her Mum’s hoard has a name. And now that I think about it, am also slightly disturbed…

    • I like disturbing people 😉 Yes, my own teen daughter’s room is a funny mix of kid/semi-adult. It’s amusing and annoying that her decorating tastes change so quickly. A couple of years ago she loved sleek, modern IKEA stuff – now she wants a distressed metal bed, an antique dresser and so on…

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  12. When I was MG (early to mid 70s), my friends all had sports posters or pop stars on their bedroom walls (boys: Joe Namath, girls: David Cassidy). I had Pink Floyd, The Who, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Yes (and books, always lots of books). By the time I was YA, if my friends still had posters, often it was Farah Fawcett or Cheryl Tiegs. I had gone to The Police and The Clash… And books, of course.

    I loved all of your snippets, but my favorite thing is Sparrow naming her mother’s hoard Phil. That ROCKS! Looking forward to reading you!

    • Haha. Those posters all sound pretty familiar. My own YA room was pretty much wall to wall horses, my own drawings mostly, interspersed with Maxfield Parrish prints. It was also the time of my Tudor obsession so my “dream” room would have been more like a Hampton Court bedchamber…

  13. Again, an awesome and imagination-provoking post! Love it. I enjoy trying to evoke buildings of time past–I love their architecture and style. Even in my contemp, I have vintage bungalows and mansions as settings.

    • I’m a sucker for old buildings too, though I have to say I’d only want to live in an old house again IF I had scads of money. Our one experience was a little too close to the movie “The Money Pit”.

  14. Hm. Interesting about using the bedroom as a way to highlight a character. I have a scene in bedroom, perhaps I’ll go and elaborate a little more. BTW, that neither blue, nor green, not gray, but a soft misty tone–is the color of my living room! Which I love, and painted myself. It’s a BeaUtiful Color.

  15. I agree that character’s rooms are a lot of fun to describe! And I LOVE the descriptions you used here. I have this whole section of my book where the character is in a cave that he’s created with his mind and it was cool to see what someone’s ideal space would be. You made me realize I need to amp it up a bit so thanks! 🙂

  16. You’re so right. I remember Sparrow’s bedroom and you definitely “showed” her character with your descriptions of it. Now I’m ready to read Unquiet Souls. *waits patiently* ❤

  17. Actually, my 7-year old picked out 4 different colors, one for each wall, to paint her room last year. We compromised, as I refused neon bright colors, so she picked a lovely lavender, a pretty pale sunshine yellow, a pale green, and a pale blue. My son’s room (he’s now 10), has pale blue walls as the backdrop for all his space and sports posters. 🙂
    BTW – I love your descriptions!!

  18. Bedrooms are so important to “show” a teenage character’s personality! I do have a description of Lily’s bedroom in my WIP. I like your descriptions 🙂 Looking forward to reading your books one day!

  19. The first thing that came to mind was, “Don’t let Rhiann near a bedroom; she break the bed and sets the room on fire. (Now I’m going to read the post. Oh, and WP, having stopped recognizing my original login some weeks ago, and forcing me to sign in with Twitter, has now stopped delivering your blog to my mail box. Should I take this as a secret warning?)

  20. I really like what you’ve shared here Rhiann. I think I could do with giving a little bit more description of settings in my writing and describing rooms is a great way of doing that.:)

  21. I think I could live in Sam’s room! I do use decor and tiny details to set stage, probably more in some books than others. My characters tend to be outside a lot. Kind of like me. :0)

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