…a literary journey
When I read a new book, the last thing I want is to be immediately bombarded with character description and back story. I think this is because it mirrors how I like to get to know people in real life – slowly.
I’m turned off, almost distrustful, when I meet someone new who wants to share every intimate detail early in our relationship. The beauty of a friendship or even a romantic relationship is that you can still learn new things about the person years later. What’s the hurry?
When an author rushes to describe either physical characteristics, or worse, what’s led the character to the point where the story actually starts, I’m likely to get bored quickly – if I’m not going to get to use my imagination or create my own theories, what’s really in it for me?
I recently read The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani. Here’s a novel whose author knows how to dole out information at a pace that kept me interested throughout the entire story. We’re well aware at the start that Thea Atwell is being sent to the camp because something disturbing has happened, something so upsetting that only her father accompanies her – both her mother and brother stay back at home. The provocative story unfolds expertly, allowing the reader to uncover that secret, and along the way, discover the totality of who Thea really is.
By nature, a reader is someone who enjoys discovering things, and using their own imagery. As writers we have to respect our readers, and that includes not over-explaining or over-describing characters or situations. Here’s three reasons why introducing your characters slowly is always a good practice:
Remember that the characters spoke to you strongly enough to write about them…don’t box them into a corner, and don’t turn interested readers into just passive observers. Trust the reader to be an integral part in bringing your story to life!