One of my favorite ways of improving my writing is to study authors who are particularly good at what they do. One thing that struck me when I read Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane was his character descriptions. They're unusual and remarkably vivid. They don't just describe what the character looks like, but usually give a glimpse of his or her personality as well.
Here's an excerpt from Lehane's Moonlight Mile to show you what I mean:
He was a small guy, wiry and bearded. His baseball cap, cotton hoodie, and battered jeans were streaked with grime. The ripe odor coming off him told me it had been a while since he'd bathed. He didn't have nut-bag eyes, though; there was no meanness in him, no crackhead edge.
Can't you just see this guy (and smell him)? I may not know his exact eye color or hair color, but what I do know about him tells me far more. I already feel like I'm getting to know him in just four sentences.
Do you have a favorite author for character descriptions? Have you read any of Lehane's books, maybe Mystic River or Gone Baby Gone?