(Come on, get your own copy, will ya?)
Characterization and Exposition
I start, a few comments. Of all the lessons I have been given along my
writing path, the one about exposition was the most profitable. It makes
so much sense to me. The trouble is, it is now getting me into trouble.
My thinking is evolving to the point that I detest conversational
exposition. My mind keeps seeing Jack Webb sternly stating "Just the
facts, Ma'am". (IF and when my wife reads this, I will be sleeping
downstairs for awhile.)
Anyway, I cannot preach exposition enough.
So pay attention. You will know when you have it right when you can
quit your day job. I still do not have it right. Otherwise I would not
be up at midnight writing.
My thoughts are in parenthesis.
chapter starts out with a few, very dull paragraphs about Eloise.)
After reading the these paragraphs, you know something about-possibly
something very important-about Eloise. But do you care? (I didn't.)
In fact, the show and tell principles
underlies many of the self-editing points we will talk about from now
on. But there's a second problem here: the writer introduces Eliose to h
is readers all at once and in depth-stopping the story cold for an
overview of her character. (Next time you are reading a book and you
come up short, as if you have been jerked out of the story and back to
your reality, stop and ask yourself why. Then take a look at what you
have just read. Very telling.)
It is often a good idea to
introduce a new character with enough physical description for your
readers to picture him or her.As with describing your settings, all you
need are a few concrete idiomatic details to jump start your readers
imagination. (I tried to do this in my novel, only giving what is needed
but nothing more. I want the character to become the readers character,
not mine. Too much detail about physical appearance and the character
is mine, not the readers.)
If your characters actually act in the
way your summaries say they will, then the summaries are not needed. If
they do not, then your summaries are misleading.
(completely) sum up your characters, you risk defining them to the point
that they're boxed in by the characterization with no room to grow.
your readers to get to know your characters gradually, each read will
interpret them in his or her own way, thus getting a deeper sens of who
your characters are.
Delving into your characters past can be a
good way for you to understand the character in the present. But though
it may have been helpful for you to write a character's history, it may
not be necessary for your readers to read it. (I like this. In fact, I
did not write out a history for any of my characters in The Sin of Certainty. After reading this point, I like it even more. My characters are still alive to me, growing and in a few cases, dying.)
you bring your present story to a halt whenever you start a flashback,
it doesn't take too many flashbacks to make your story jerky or hard to
follow. (This is taught in Writing to Sell also. Good advice. I used
one and only flashback in my novel. I could not find a way around it
and the information was pivotal. In fact, without it, the reader will
never learn the answer to the mystery. Let the reader learn about the
character from the present, not the past.)
If you want to learn
who someone is, watch what they say and do. If you want your readers to
get a feel who your character really are, show them through dialogue and
action. (This is true in life, in a movie, and in a book. And remember,
action speaks louder than words.)
The information your readers
need in order to follow and appreciate your plot...should be brought out
as unobtrusively as possible.
Give your readers only as much
background information or history, or characterization as they need at
any give time. (I really like this.)
When your characters start
talking solely for the sake of informing your readers, the exposition
gets in the way of believable characterization. So be on the lookout for
places where your dialogue is actually exposition in disguise.
Readers can best learn about your locations and background not through lengthy exposition but by seeing them in real life.
B Y Rogers http://www.byrogers.com/