Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Point-of-View: Listen to your characters!

I like to hear my characters, feel them, ~be~ them. I write strong characters with strong voices, strong opinions, strong beliefs, and strong emotions.

And when I write, I listen to my characters. They tell me when they're bored, or when I've irritated them with something I wrote.

For instance, I'm reading this book that on page 83, the author writes this, paraphrased:

She usually had a quick comeback for every situation. But this isn't the movies, she thought. This is real life, and in real life, she just killed a man, and almost died doing so.

Wow, huh. Are you listening to the character? Do you hear what she just said? I hate it when characters say that!

The character said this, paraphrased:

DUDE! What the hell! That was an unbelievable series of events you just put me through. Nobody's gonna buy it. Hell, ~I~ don't even buy it! You just knocked me out of the story. So much for suspending my disbelief, eh. Here, let me remind you: THIS IS NOT THE MOVIES! STOP IT!

Yeah, well, the author didn't listen to her. He chugged along his path, writing more fodder, eventually leading me to skip a couple of filler chapters. I told my girlfriend that I feel like I should be reading this book with a red pen in my hand!

And I saw a movie the other day where a character said this, as he was about to be tortured, and the villain was spewing off a long spiel before peeling the skin off our hero:

Um, can we get on with this? I'm not getting any younger.

Do you hear that one? The character says he's bored. The character yawned, what do you think a reader will do!

So listen to your characters. If they're not into the story, then you need to re-write that part, or maybe even delete it.

Characters know best.

- Eric

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