9/5/07

Why Should I Care?

I've read several manuscripts lately that have pretty good writing, a good plot, no major mistakes or problems, they've even been submitted perfectly.

So what's the problem?

I just don't care.

When you look at fiction, you basically have two types--plot driven and character driven. You need both to make a good book. What I'm seeing a lot of lately are decent plots without the character development needed to make me care. It's really sad when the main character is about to be eaten by a shark and you find yourself mid-yawn.

Look at your characters. If you didn't know them so well, would you like them? Would you care about them? Will others care about them? If you're not sure, the best thing you can do is find some ruthless readers who don't know you personally. People who know you well will color what they're reading with your personality, they'll "get" your jokes, they'll "hear" your voice. People who don't know you rely on written cues to assess your character's personality and traits. If complete strangers care about your characters, you're probably okay. If they don't, do some rewriting before submitting.

6 comments:

Ajoy said...

Nicely put.

I have to say I am in the opposite boat right now. My characters are amazing - to me anyway- they are real people in my head. {too real sometimes! hehe}

The plot is coming along nicely too...but not as fascinating as it needs to be in order for one to consider it an awesome read. The descriptions and feelings that I am trying to convey at this point in my novel is where I am right now. Trying to define my novel as the realistic fiction I want it to be is where I find the work has truly begun.

Even though it's a little challenging...I admit it's still fun!

I LOVE your advice to have people read my work that don't know me. Perfect advice for me!!! Thanks-

David G. Woolley said...

Very well written LDS Publisher. You must be an editor. You shared some very important craft-building ideas in just a few words. Think what you could do at novel length.

Well done.

Wm said...

You know, this is exactly why I gave a mixed review to Iron Council by China MiƩville. And he is ostensibly a plot AND character driven author. But with Iron Council, I didn't quite 'get' the characters and I didn't come away with the sense that Mieville wanted me to get them.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Very good point. I'm looking back over the fiction manuscripts I'm working on right now.

Rebecca Talley said...

Thanks, LDSP, for the list of books eligible for the Whitney Awards. You're cool!

Carole Thayne said...

I totally agree. Having great characters is something I'm better at than plot. I'll keep working on both.
Thanks!