1. KRHolbrook
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    KRHolbrook Member

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    Facts without emotional support

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by KRHolbrook, May 8, 2012.

    Recently had a question about paragraphing on another critique site and someone was helpful enough to point out the main problem being that I'm giving readers facts without emotional support. Do you ever find yourself doing this? The paragraph in question is the below:

    My problem is (I think), that I think I'm giving the reader in-depth information on the character, but what my fellow critiquer says is I'm not inside his head. I'm still feeding the reader with facts of seeing, but not of the mind, not why he's being so paranoid.

    Does anyone else have any problems like this in their own writing? I wanted to kind of hide the fact that it's his ex-wife he's running from, but I believe that's the wrong direction to go; instead I need to feed the reader that information first. Anyone have suggestions as well, for spotting this kind of thing out?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would classify this as an example of showing. The emotional state is shown to the reader through externally observable details.

    If there is a problem, it's that you're belaboring the point. I think it could be trimmed by about half, and double the impact. Also, your POV is s bit murky. Mostly , it seems to be his virtual self, perched on his own shoulder. But even if he glances in the mirror, he might notice the red rimmed eyes, but not that his eyes are wide and brown. That's a POV of a stranger looking at him for the first time. Other times, the POV is those eyes themselves. Decide your POV from the start of the scene, and stick with it.

    An "angel on his shoulder" POV can look upon (familiar) eyes, but not through them at the same time.
     
  3. KRHolbrook
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    KRHolbrook Member

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    Thanks for moving the topic, Cogito, as well as taking the time to voice your own opinion on it. Definitely thought it was more show than tell, for sure. The critiquer simply told me that he's not one with the character, because he can't see the drive, he can only see what the author sees, basically. This piece is actually a revision from the first paragraph that I had written. I actually kind of liked the first version better, since it started with: After four days without sleep, Rick Balder is at the pinnacle of paranoia. It didn't have quite as much information either, as far as the empty cans of energy drinks.

    I can see what you're saying with the eye color part of the sentence, how everything else he is seeing. Trying to think of a way of giving the information on his eyes. Perhaps him feeling his eyes are dry and looking at them in the mirror?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    He still won't pay attention to width and color of his eyes. It's familiar information, so doesn't get routine notice.

    An untethered POV keeps the reader from getting into the scene, and that can be much of why the other reader felt no emotional connection.

    A POV who is a virtual clone of the central character of the scene thinks the way the character does, but sees the character from a fixed point, and is a good substitute for first person narration.
     
  5. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I have to agree with Cog. Third person narratives or a fixed/external point that can look onto the scene is the only way the color of his eyes would play out. Whereas first person is an experience just like you and me have every day. Do you really notice your eye color and how your skin stretches when you grip things tightly? Your viewing everything and relating it to the reader in the way the character would interpret/experience the scene. Personally, even if it was third person, or a POV that would notice information similar, I don't really care about the eye color. The only time that kind of information suits me, is when the author is bringing it to my attention for a specific reason, IE: the entrance of a queen to a room, or a beautiful woman maybe the PROT is in love with, where those things WOULD be noticed by your character. If you were bringing attention to his eyes for any reason, it would be to show lack of sleep, not the color of them. The color actually takes off some of the impact of what (I think) you were trying to depict. This is all my humble opinion of course, so do not take it as fact, by any means. Hope this helps.

    I can also see what the critiquer was saying. The paragraph was kind of flat. And Cog has already pointed out why. It was a little bit of information overload. Just as the reader is about to come to his own idea as to how the character is feeling, another idea is presented in the paragraph.
     
  6. Ventis
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    Ventis Member

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    To me this feelis like a camera-eye narrator. That is objective narrator that only shows what the character can see, without any 'emotional support' or being inside the character head. Some readers find it difficult to read, but on the other hand, not everyone 'identifies' themselves with the character and don't mind it, or even prefer it.

    If you want it to be a camera-eye narrator, then you must omit 'four days without sleep' - that's something that camera can't see.

    If you want it as a third person limited, then omit the 'wide brown' and add something bit more personal - e.g. he could look into the mirror, see how tired he is and comment on how terrible he looks (in free indirect speech).
     
  7. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    When I read the paragraph, it's kind of an info-dump. I feel like you are trying to desperately tell my that he is tired, wired and in a desperate state of some sort. I get the idea that you're going for but it is dumped in to my lap...versus drawing me in. It's stuff that needs to be weaved in to a greater context. While I see the validity in Cogito's point, I'm not so sure that your couldn't have all of that info if it was within an greater context of understanding that there is 'something', even if not immediately revealed, that has him in that state.
     

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