In my novel I am writing a scene where I am trying to describe a character. In the scene, he is a white male, 35 years old, with rich parents. He is an alpha male and I am trying to make him dress like the type. So I used the style a rugged cowboy would dress. But it doesn't sound right when I read it out loud, especially when I use the word, "had". Because doesn't had mean it was the past? Should I remove the word 'Had'? For example change, "He had an n over-muscled build..." to "With an n over-muscled build..._

Thanks in advance.

Brock stood a little under six feet tall and Yousif was sure he weighed at least over two hundred pounds. He had an over-muscled build that many would find intimidating. He wore a popped at the collar, dirty blue plaid shirt, tucked in a pair of black slim fitting jeans. A tooled leather belt with an oversized statement buckle held his tucked in shirt in place. He also wore a pair of beaten up, round pointed toe brown thick heeled crocodile cowboy boots. In short, he had an all-American, rugged a little bit dangerous cowboy look.

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  • "Because doesn't had mean it was the past?" All your other verbs are in the past tense - stood, was sure, wore, held - so what's the problem with that? – curiousdannii Jan 24 at 8:44
  • I'm confused as to why you edited your original version of this question - which is what you're meant to do when a question is closed - and then re-posted it anyway. (For the record, I support keeping this one open and the other one closed.) – F1Krazy Jan 24 at 9:44
  • F1Krazy I edited my original version because the mod closed it. SO I though the mod didnt like my question so I edited and reposted. – Alex Jan 25 at 1:37

I think your use of "had" is fine. You're writing in the past tense anyway. I think the reason it doesn't sound quite right is more the sentence flow, particularly around the end of the passage. The combination of sentences starting "He wore..." "He also wore..." jars slightly for me, and the last sentence isn't quite right. Generally I think there are rather too many adjectives, and occasionally you're repeating details (the tucked-in shirt). I know you want to convey the detail but try not to do it at the expense of the flow of your story. How about this:

"Brock stood a little under six feet tall and Yousif was sure he weighed at least two hundred pounds. He had an intimidating, over-muscled build. He wore a popped-at-the-collar, dirty blue plaid shirt, tucked in a pair of black slim fitting jeans and held in place by a tooled leather belt with an oversized statement buckle. His beaten-up brown crocodile boots completed his rugged all-American cowboy look."

I can see that you might want that word "dangerous" to be in there but I'd suggest working it in slightly differently. It's not the fact that Brock is dressed as a cowboy that makes him dangerous, it's some aspect of him - perhaps his arrogant swagger, perhaps the mean glare in his eyes or a general twitchiness that suggests he's in fight-or-flight mode and just itching for a fight.

I think you have something really good brewing. Just from the couple of questions about Brock and Yousif that I've tried to help with so far, I'm looking forward to reading more about them.

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  • Thank you. I'll have to let you know where you can get a copy of the novel when I'm done. It's an interesting novels with a lot going on. It's a novel to the likes of Hotel Rwanda, Rocky I and Million Dollar baby put together. It's actually better than all three put together. I cant guarantee the grammar will be perfect but the story line will be A1. – Alex Jan 25 at 1:51
  • I certainly can't fault your confidence. – NomadMaker Jan 25 at 7:10

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