Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Reviewer Warnings to Writers #1: Skip the Head Dipping
Anyway, once the chaff blows yonder, what's left is a specific list of what makes readers so mad they feel they have to stand in front of the book in question and wave their arms wildly, saying "Turn back! Turn back! Don't suffer like I did."
One of the biggest reader offenders I'm running into is what I'll call "head dipping." What I mean by that is a story that interrupts itself continually to give us the point of view character's internal monologue. It seems a lot of writers not only head dip too often, but the feelings they are talking about in their characters are whiny, insecure, pathetic, and annoying. It's true we all feel like that when we're confronted with overwhelming circumstances, but it seems the bulk of fantasy readers don't want to hear about it. They want the story to forge onward. They want to see the character's conflicts, they want to hear the dialogue that reveals little snippets of the characters' inner distress, but more than one visit in a very great while to any remotely emo passages, and you readers will let the world know--loud and clear--that they think it stinks.
While frequent passages of musing may work literary wonders in "serious" forms of prose, it appears to me fantasy is surely not one of them--from a reader perspective. Since most of us who write genre fiction are indeed writing for readers, I believe we would do well to heed the issues that inspire one-star reviews. As I turn up more recurring themes in these boo-hiss reviews, I'll be back to share what those are. And as always, I invite your commentary on what you think about the observations I bring up here.
Happy reading and writing, friends!