After writing the actions in the opening sequence, I saw two things wrong.
First, I want to write an immersive third person narrator, where the only information is that which the character knows. Describing his room as dimly lit by moonlight may be correct, but it ignores both his perspective and how I want readers to feel. A room 'dimly lit by enough moonlight to find his way around' conveys a different mood than Wispy
clouds obscured the moonlight coming through the barred windows. He waited
after he sat up in bed, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom. Shadows and
shapes resolved into the familiar trappings of his room. A faint outline of
light limned the door. Almost invisible next to that halo was a narrow table
which he needed to avoid.
I included words with connotations of entrapment, such as 'obscured', 'barred', 'gloom', 'trappings', 'invisible', 'avoid' and more obliquely and maybe morbidly, 'halo'. This conveys the character's perspective about the room and its lighting, as well as making the reader share those feelings.
Secondly, I want to capture the theme. My fat character could be jolly, or repulsive, or give any of several other adjectives which will have the reader perceive him with admiration, or pity, or anger, or anything. Writing the opening description of the character was made easier by first identifying a theme, and then describing him according to that theme.
him fat was an understatement, he knew. The typical reaction to his appearance
was one of marvel, because they had never seen anyone so enormously huge in their
'Marvel' works better than 'wonder', which I had tried originally, but led to wondering how he got fat, or other side questions I don't want to answer yet, if ever. I want him to simply be fat, and for him and others to accept his size. 'Marvel' also conveys that an appropriate emotion with little negativity.
Word count: 1070