January 28th, 2013

Lisa Coffee

Avoid the Frying Pan: Have Faith in Your Readers

I've been on a bit of a reading marathon lately.  I decided to pick only fun, fast YA reads to entertain myself through the stressful start of a new school year.  As I whip through these novels, I've noticed something that irritates me as a reader: the characters analyze their actions and emotions and tell us about character motivation.  This telling is kind of a cheating way of creating plot tension, and I have to believe readers will see through it.  

Here's an example of what I mean.  A character will be clearly falling for the hot guy, but then she'll stop and say something like: "I am so in to this guy, but if I let myself fall for him, I'll open myself up to getting hurt.  I don't want to be vulnerable like that."

Even though the character might really be feeling this, it seems forced and fake that the character would have such a convenient thought.  It's like hitting the reader over the head with a frying pan and yelling "check out this plot tension!"

I think we owe it to readers to give them the benefit of the doubt.  If we're doing our job of showing character emotions, we don't need to stop and tell them these things.