Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Become Your Characters

“Your reader doesn’t want you to tell him how good or bad a character is. He wants to see it for himself.” -- Gillian Roberts in You Can Write a Mystery
Of course, another way to say this is “show, don’t tell.” And no matter what kind of narrative you’re writing, this advice holds true. The short story I’m working on currently is a good example. I wrote the first draft a few months ago, revised it a couple of times and sent it out for critique. It wasn’t well received. I wrote another draft, but didn’t feel it was much better and set it aside. I took another look at this story over the weekend and realized there were two problems with it. The first one centered around the above quote. There was too much telling. I hadn’t made the reader a part of the experience. The second problem dealt with another tip I read this morning.
“To create a memorable scene, you must get inside each character, feel what he is feeling, react to what he is experiencing…” Jerri McCloud in Charlotte Writer’s Club Newsletter, January 2009
This tip relates to yesterday’s quote. In order for the reader to understand what a character thinks and feels, the author needs to be inside the character’s head. As Ms. McCloud puts it, write from the inside out.

With these thoughts in mind, I’m ready to create a tale that will grab the reader’s attention and hold it until the end.

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