The Jane Doe Novel Experiment

Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.

Because I Don’t Like Being Spoon Fed – I Stopped Reading Here

Actually, I don’t mind being fed if we’re romantically involved and it involves ice cream or grapes or chocolate covered strawberries, but that’s it. I do mind – a great deal – if I’m spoon fed details or plots in a novel I’m reading. And it’s a very special, very irritating pet peeve of mine if I’m spoon fed this information through unnatural dialogue.

Example:

Sarah answers her cell phone. It’s her best friend, Jane.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“I’m calling to see if you have plans tonight.”

Sarah frowns. “Yeah. My boyfriend, Joe, and I have plans to see the new movie.”

“Can me and my boyfriend, John, come along? We can double date!”

If you know what is wrong with this, congratulations. If not, don’t worry. My guess is that you are working on your first novel or screenplay. Spoon feeding details is a mistake a lot of first time writers make. A LOT.  Lets examine what’s wrong with this.

It’s already established that Sarah and Jane are bf’s.  I don’t know about you, but my bf would already know who my boyfriend is and I would know hers.  For either of them, and especially both of them, to say, “My boyfriend, Joe” vs just “Joe” is spoon-feeding.

Things like this make me want to grab my advanced calculus work book and solve a few equations just to reassure myself that if I can figure out advance calc, I surely could have figured out the relationship between the girls and the boys they mentioned by their actions in the following paragraphs.

How to avoid doing this? I can not give you a straight forward rule, but I will give you a thought to keep in mind.

If you’re making the character say it purely for the reader’s benefit, the character should probably not say it.

When writing, you should simply remove the fourth wall and let your reader peak into their lives. Think of the last time you eavesdropped, hm, I mean, overheard a stranger’s conversation on the train or bus. Chances are if they talked long enough you could put together exactly who’s cheating on who, why it is shocking, how the kids are doing, etc. They don’t have to go out of their way to make a straight forward statement to these facts. They will naturally come up in the conversation.

Likewise, your characters should speak normally as if they don’t know we’re listening to them. Because they don’t.

This particular story had a lot of spoon-feeding.  I almost want to demand that the author rewrite asap because the concept is amazing. The author’s way of describing a scene is extremely vivid. The creativity of the storyline is inspiring.

However, after 50 pages of spoon-feeding I couldn’t swallow another bite. Once that’s fixed, I can’t wait to chow down the second draft! (All on my own!)

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This entry was posted on July 6, 2012 by in I Stopped Reading Here (ISRH) and tagged , , , , .

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