Ondaatje. Enough said. But keep reading anyway.
Because here’s a little wisdom on the nature of characters that I thought was pretty interesting:
What interests me are the complications and nuances of character. Few of my characters are described externally; we see them from the inside out.
I like that.
In fact, unless it’s vitally important to the story, I don’t need a tonne of details about a character’s external or physical features. I’m not great at visualising that sort of thing anyway.
I’d much rather see them ‘from the inside’, learn about their personalities and their feelings first, then form my own ideas about how they look (if I ever really see them at all). It’s much more important to actually put ‘character’ into the characters.
And I think a lot of other readers and writers would feel the same.