But Enough About Me!

How do you like my dress?

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Nifty post, but wow, did that last graph resonate with me.

Humans like to figure out other humans. We evolved to observe, interact, gossip, and create relationships.

There. That. Why "show don't tell" works in a nutshell.


So that's why I like some books and not others. Fantastic.

*starts humming "getting to know you ..."*

Oh, yes.

And I feel the same way about setting dumps, too...

Here via Sartorias, and am struck by how much I'd like a story for each of the scenarios you've described where we get to learn something about the character from their actions. Lovely storytelling in the interstices of a essay :-)

Very well-said, and thought-provoking.

An important part of the social being of characters is family. I'm always surprised when genre heroes of both sexes seem to have no families, as if they sprung from the ground fully formed.

'cause if you give them family, you have inflicted more characters upon your story. Possibly more than it could cope with.

Unless you are writing stories about single children who were orphaned and brought up by bears, there _will be_ other characters. They'll have neighbours, schoolmates, friends and co-workers, lovers and casual acquaintances. Family is just another node in the social network - you don't have to give them screen time, but knowing they're there will round a character off.

Also, if you _do_ have a romantic suplot or a relationship building through the book, I am much more reassured that it will last if all participants are shown to have healthy, loving relationships with third parties - the loner who learns to love only one person is *not* good relationship material because no person is an island and a new romantic partner needs to find their place in an existing social network. If you show me their social side beforehand, I'm more likely to believe that it will work out.

Except that you can pick and chose what to have in the social network, and that does include the family.

Once upon a time I had to write out a story before I knew any of my characters' motives.

But once I knew what they did, I knew what they were, and I could revise in what their motives had been.

Very impressive article, thank you for sharing it.

Readers don’t need everything spoon fed to them. Readers like to figure things out.

I think you've just put word to one of the reasons I love your books so much. sartorias spoke of 'middle-aged reader syndrome' elsewhere - when you've seen the clicheed plots and tired archetypes, not just once, but many times, when you can spot a linear plot and its ups and downs from afar, and it's boring. Books like you talk about are the perfect antidote - they assume a certain degree of maturity in the reader (as well as the ability to work things out and reach for a dictionary should they encounter an unfamiliar word etc); and I, for one, respond well to that assumption.

Readers (not all readers; not all books) read in part to interact with the characters. We are social animals. Let readers be social in their reading experience. Because one of the relationships you are creating when you write is the relationship between the reader and your story.

The social side is very much why I read, and I suppose one of the reasons I dislike unreliable narrators, explicit sex (I don't want to watch my real life friends having sex in my living room, either) or narratives that are blatantly manipulated by the writer to act and react in certain ways and who don't seem to have a life of their own outside the writer's agenda.

Heh. That's a really good reason for disliking explicit sex.

For me there aren't that many surprises in narrative any more, as a reader, and yet I can still read novels with the greatest pleasure as long as I develop a relationship with the characters.

Great post!

>Adds to writing subject memories<

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