Too Many Characters No Scenery Details Feb 23, 2023 18:10:05 GMT -5
Post by Radrook Admin on Feb 23, 2023 18:10:05 GMT -5
Too Many Characters No Scenery Details
I once started reading this novel written by the famous Sci Fi writer named Paul Anderson and could never get beyond the first chapter. Finally, I threw it away and tagged it as impossible. No, he was not making grammatical mistakes. What he was doing, and he did it within the first few pages of the novel, was to include approx. 20 aliens all with complicated and hard-to-remember names, and only very briefly described. Now, during the rest of the novel, he would suddenly inject one of these exotic creatures into the story, and I didn't know how to visualize it, although he was assuming that I as a reader easily could.
So I had to return the the descriptive page, patiently look up the extra terrestrial creature, and Lo and Behold, there really wasn't much to go by. To make matters worse, he would rapidly remove the new one and introduce maybe two or three more from his list, causing even more confusion. I tried the same solution several times but to no avail. So after several years of repeating this, because I felt that a famous writer such as he was he deserved a chance to capture my interest, I simply took the book and trashed it.
Now, recently when reading short stories from certain non-professional authors, I ran into the same thing. The stories start by providing the protagonist's name. Then his friends are gradually mentioned, Bill, Joe, James, Sally, Gertrude. Then the Teachers: Margareta, the School Principle Benjamin. The Janitor Philip. Unfortunately, none are described physically. So as a reader, I am being expected to provide them with bodies of some kind or another. The result, is of course, that I as reader only hear names and see nobody in particular.
Such writers don't seem to realize that leaving out details such as age, height, skin complexion, nationality, race, profession, body type, attire, is tantamount to mentioning a room and saying nothing about how the room looks.
"Joe entered the room."
Small room? Large Room? Dark Room? Office Room? Bedroom? Living Room? Basement room? Furnished room? Unfurnished room? Musty room? Brightly lit Room? Windowless room? Rotund room? Two Widowed room? Scarlet painted room? Thickly carpeted room?
In short, if we leave out details, then we are creating a featureless vacuum and leaving the reader to fill it in. The question is how exactly is a reader supposed to do that? And if he does, how does he know whether the author wants him to see things in that way? Sure, he might be informed later, that a protagonist was, an elderly female, when the reader had been imagining a young man. Or might reveal that the protagonist is black, when the reader had imagined a white person. Or describe him suddenly as being very tall, when the reader had been imagining him short and pudgy. In short, the reader is forced to discard all previous misconceptions and see what the writer now decides that he wants him to see instead of having revealed it from the beginning as is his duty.
Furthermore, why would a writer want to frustrate a reader that way? At that point, the reader might very well throw the book aside in frustration and decide that the writer doesn't know what the hell he's doing.
So in order to prevent this tableau, it is recommended that a story writer describe the scenery, and the people within these. Where is the story taking place? On another planet? What Country? What City? State? Region? What time of day? Afternoon? Morning? Evening? Midnight? What is the weather? Sunny? Cold? Autumn? Stormy? Raining?
People? Young? Middle-aged? Old? Fat? Scrawny? Skinny? Short? Tall? Dark complexioned? Blond? Oriental? Nordic? Educated? Uneducated? Extra terrestrials? Describe them.
We should not reveal such things two-thirds of the way through. We should do so at the outset and in that way prevent the negative evaluation of our effort to entertain.