Monday, March 26, 2012

Ground Your MC

It has been awhile since I have unleashed on of my snarky rants.  But it's Monday   . . . and  . . . well it's Monday.  Now before you read further, please remember that this is READER TRISHA not WRITER TRISHA who is expressing her opinions here.

I love layers in my characters.  I love writers who get that people/ characters don't exist in a neatly sealed box, that their past and present always collide, forcing them to make some horrendous decisions.  I love mystery and action.  In fact I crave it, need some something to propel me to turn that page and exclaim holy crap.   I thoroughly appreciate the need to set seeds and thrive on a good game of literary connect-the-dots.  
What I hate is getting it all at once!

I don't want nor do I need to be introduced to thread after thread  in the first twenty pages. No matter how well written, no matter how important you think those ten pieces of back-story, those five extra characters and those twelve tiny hints are to your plot, if you toss that at me all in the first two chapter, then and suffice it to say I'll get confused.  (and a tad bit pissy)

It's not good if I am two chapters in and still wondering if your MC is dreaming, awake, high, or just one fucked up human being.  I don't want to have to guess if your plot is set in the present or the future. I don't want to have to remember seven character names in the first five pages or try and keep their back-stories straight.   And I sure as hell don't want be guessing at the gender of your MC. 

As a reader, I need you to ground your MC.  I need a firm grip on setting.  I don't mean I want an elaborate description of the color of the falling leaves or the missing shutter on the third window from the left.  What I mean is a concrete sense of time, place AND tone.  Start there, then add the threads.  You have 250 some odd pages to develop your character.  Use it all.

11 comments:

  1. great advice. Info dump is one of my pet peeves, especially when you're still trying to get a feel for the story and the MC. We need time to acclamate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Acclimate --- YESS!! that is the perfect word for it. I am like a new fish; you need to leave me in the little plastic bag and let me acclimate to the new bowl water before you turn me loose.

      Delete
  2. Well, you told us! I'll make sure I ground my characters. Thanks, Trisha. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. Sorry, I get snarky sometimes. I blame it on my fun but rather sarcastic-laden upbringing.

      Delete
  3. Yessssss...I used to make this *cringe-worthy* mistake as a newbie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all made that mistake at the beginning. God knows I have one or two dead books of my one that have a hideous start to them.

      Delete
  4. What I really want to know is what you read that made you all snarkified. You aren't generally snarky without cause.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not yours, Becky. Never yours. And I mean that! It wasn't even a YA book -- some chic lit book I got forced into reading for book club.

      Delete
  5. The other thing that bothers me are the far-removed narrator describing 'an old man' or 'a girl' wandering around doing things... no names, no sense of whether any of them are important... basically no concrete detail whatsoever.

    It's like, why should I care? And the answer is, I don't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. Random people who have no interaction with their surroundings are just that -- random, and in many cases disposable characters.

      Delete