Showing posts from March, 2010

Don't Tell and Don't Just Show

For the last month or so, writing Tardi Mack, the point-of-view character in Monster-Moored, my project-on-the-go, I’ve been worrying that I was doing more telling again. An easy habit to fall into. I’ve been feeling increasingly distanced from him, as though he was a marionette dancing on the ends of his strings.

Though a character being read has a certain autonomy, a character being written must be even more fully in the control of his or her creator than the much-quoted “Show, Don’t tell.” advice suggests. Yet all the best stories allow me, as reader, to be the character I identify with.

This is what I aspire to as a writer – the construction of characters readers can inhabit. Not telling about character. Not showing character. But allowing the reader to be the character.

An avatar generally expects to act independently within the confines of its game world, where a reader inhabiting a character in a novel has not just the world but also the plot laid out in front of them.


A Novel: The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

I’m reading The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break again. First published in 2000. This edition by Canongate Books of the UK.
This novel is a great illustration of the Closed System of Belief concept in an speculative fiction story for adult readers, set in the present, even though it is marketed as main stream literature.

In a Closed System of Belief the fantastical elements are part of the scenery and are normal in the world of the story. There are no Points of Disbelief, as in an Open System, where characters must face the reality of the particular magic or unbelievable logic and either accept or reject it. Where reasons have to be invented for both.

I had been hitting that problem for a while in my present work-in-progress without being able to figure out how to express it to be able to talk about it. I thank Scott Westerfeld for this explanation from his blog.

For speculative fiction writers The Minotaur it is a terrific study in how to amalgamate an unreal character in the hu…