Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Characters must have

More words of wisdom, this time on CHARACTERS. First of all, Don't Introduce a Character to No Purpose.
Always remember your character has to have one; he must be more than a gender stereotype. Err on the side of the specific, concentrate on features and qualities.
Above all, Ignore that Mirror!
Remember that a POV character knows what she looks like, and that a POV character "sees" whoever she thinks about.
Don't overdescribe clothes, and don't use politics as an accessory.
Lastly, but important - perfect people are boring.
As for SETTINGS - don't stop in the middle of an action sequence to describe the scenery. If you're running from a murderer you don't think "What a beautiful tree" as you tear by. Well, you wouldn't, would you?
Mention food only to advance the plot or illustrate a mood.
Reading the comments in a list like this, it is so easy to chuckle and think well, of course not. Which idiot would fall into such traps? But beginners do, and occasionally so do we all. I know I have. Food isn't one of my things, I'm happy to say, but I've read many potential books where each meal is described in loving detail and I suspect the author is salivating as she writes. All it does for me is make me groan and skip to the next bit.
My fault line, as it were, is describing outside locations. Less is more, I keep telling myself, hoping I'll learn the lesson eventually.
(Top pic is one of the orchards at Acorn Bank; bottom pic looking north west across Northumberland from the Roman Wall.)

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