Thursday, 5 February 2009

How not to introduce a character

Reading the review of How Not To Write A Novel and the great posts from agent Author Author's blog.

Many novels are written an autohagiography by people who think a character needs to stand in front of a mirror to see that her breasts are medium-sized but nice and perky.

day in, day out, screeners are routinely introduced to characters by front-loaded visual images, a good third of them bouncing off reflective vases, glasses of water, and over-large silver pendants. We’ve all seen it: the first-person narrator who catches sight of his own reflection in a nearby mirror in order to have a reason to describe himself.

Guess what I found in the opening page of my novel?! Yes. It's gone now. Check yours.

Dulcie checked herself in the mirror. She was pale as the insipid, low fat yogurt she bought from Lidl. Perhaps a bit of make up would be a good idea. Irene would spot even the palest slick of lipstick straight away and wonder why she’d bothered. Cora’s make up came out of its dusty bag only for the Christmas party, dates and the odd trip to the theatre. No make up today. She pinched her cheeks and looked again, a temporary improvement.

But how does this gel with another rule from the book?

Novels are seldom rejected because the characters are described too well.


Uiscebot said...

EW, There's absolutely no reason why you should be writing your novel at all. You should just throw it in the bin right now!

Obviously I'm joking - but listening to all those 'experts' would have you doing so.

And hey you should come along to platform one on Saturday night - details on my blog (shortly).

bfs ~ "Mimi" said...

I have to laugh sometimes when advice "here" always clashes with advice "there" --

The Dotterel said...

Should that be... "written as an autobiography'?

Emerging Writer said...

Nope Hagiography is a pejorative reference to the works of those contemporary biographers and historians whom critics perceive to be uncritical and even "reverential" in their writing.
So autohagiography is when you're revering yourself many times over in fiction

KAREN said...

Yep, my main character catches sight of herself in the mirror and "realises she's turning into her mother. Doesn't mind the dark eyes or the hair that won't behave, or even a lack of a proper waist, but surely she shouldn't have that many lines on her forehead."

Guess it's back to the drawing board!!