“Let’s talk about me!”
Generally speaking, that’s not good advice for handling yourself in social situations. Better is to listen and ask questions. Being interested in others is the way to make friends and influence people. (Smile too. That helps.)
In bonding readers to characters on the page, though, the reverse is true. We open our hearts to those whose hearts are open to us. For characters’ hearts to be open to us they must talk to us quite a bit about what’s going on inside them.
Effective narrative voices are essentially an awful lot about “me”. I’m not advocating for first person narration. Third person can draw us deeply in too. It’s less about the choice and more about how narrative voice is handled.
In many manuscripts, whether written in first or third person, the main characters do not disclose very much. Often they simply report what’s happening, a dry play-by-play conveyance of the action. As a reader one longs for color commentary, if nothing else. Even better would be some self-reflection but authors frequently hold that back.
Even witty, ironically detached first person narrators—the default voices of YA, New Adult and Para-Everything fiction—aren’t necessary revealing. Ironic tone can be used to avoid true intimacy with readers. Detached literally means unengaged.
Literary writing isn’t necessarily more honest, either. [Read more…]