Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Emotions in Characters and Pet Peeves

I used to think I didn’t have a pet peeve when it came to reading. I dislike books that don't catch my interest right away, for whatever reason, but I'm fairly easy to please.

I’ve since discovered maybe I'm not so easy to please.

There are so many ways to draw a reader into a story. My favorite? Show me how the character is feeling by revealing—through his thoughts and senses—how he is feeling. The weather, usually very overplayed, if done right can be a great revelation of emotion. There are moments when a scene requires a slight nudge to show me the character, another when I need to be banged on the hand with the information.

I was reading a book from one of my favorite authors, (NYT bestseller, but I'm not saying who) and I can't make make it past the first chapter. Why? I wanted to know how the character was feeling, but every other sentence told me. Yes, in highly emotional scenes it is good to super empower the sensations and thoughts of the character, but readers can’t stand to read in a super empowered state at every sentence. (At least, I can’t).

Another pet peeve? Thoughts. I hate italics. If I am in that character’s head, I do not need italics. It jars me and jerks me out of where I want to be—in the character’s head. Some editors believe that a character’s thought must be italicized. I believe in going deep into the character’s POV. Everything the character sees, touches, experiences is what I experience. His thoughts are my thoughts. If the grass looks purple to him…well, you catch my drift. But I don't like italics. It's just my personal preference, and I know others will disagree, but this book has italics on every page. I'm not kidding. More than once, sometimes, and it makes me want to throw the book across the room.

What’s your pet peeve?


Marty said...

"She could see the shoreline from her house." Could she now? Tell me if she DID. That's my pet peeve. I correct it in my mind every time I read it, lol.

Emma Sanders said...

Could point, Marty. I've caught myself doing that, actually, but am getting better.