Monday, December 6, 2010

Are they speaking to you?

This post is more about looking to you guys for your advice,opinion or both. I'm sort of confused about a certain topic. You know, when your reading a book and a character seems to ask you a question. When they seem to be talking to you. I've been told this is 'talking to the reader'.

I have to admit my first so-called draft had a lot of this, along with a ton of backstory. Seriously, my MC was having a one on one conversation with the reader. As I have grown (I admit, just a little), my brain is starting to recognize this. Many of my CPs have told me to take it out, which I get. Since I've been reading a lot more, it's been easier to pick it up in other critiques that I've done.

Here is where I get confused, and this may be a matter of opinion. It may be that if it fits the story, then it's allowed.  I dunno, but lately in a few popular novels, I've seen it and seen it a lot. Is this something that is okay in publishing? In my opinion, it does slow the story down a lot. In fact, I'm beginning to cut as much out of my MS as possible. Like I said, maybe it's just me, but the less of this, the better. For me.

So, I want to know from you.
What is your opinion on this?

Do you like it?

And when is it best to use it?

The weekend was busy, but Friday, I wrote some new stuff for WiP#3 and revised a chapter for WiP#1 (yeah, I'm excited). I plan to continue revising, plus work on my piece for my blogfest. See over there, on my sidebar. It's on Monday, so spread the word.

How was your weekend?

Any goals?

I'm full of questions today. Have a great day!


  1. Hi,

    I know what you mean, but sometimes there is a point where a little talking to reader is okay! The crux - how much is too much. ;) And, I forget who, but recently there was a novelist who posted up a piece re crit partner suggested changes were all replaced by editor, so whatever one does can be wrong for the powers that be. I think it's a case of go with gut instinct, and ed will give it a yay or nay.

    I haven't read a snip of your WIP so can't comment. But, if you're interested I've posted 2 chaps up from my latest WIP. Call it promotion/marketing, that's how I'm looking on it re my last Lit agent blog post.


    Ps, just followed your blogfest poster and NO linky is showing!

  2. This is a great topic. I've often wondered that, too. I tend to agree that it depends on the character, but can't be overdone. It also is, to some degree, a personal preference. I love when a character seems to call me out, make me think. Granted, characters can do that, too, from behind their words and not directly at me. Like everything else in life, it's a balance.

  3. I think it is important to balance your voice with the character's voice. Preaching to the reader is never good. And I know I have called my CP out on it as well. Whenever I find myself debating with the character, I know I am being preachy or being preached to. Don't want to alienate my readers.

    Happy Holidays!

  4. oooh this is a good topic. I think it's a type of tone that can be done in a first person POV, but even if you do decide to adopt this tone, it still needs to be kept in moderation. It can't be tons of talking to the reader.

  5. I've been noticing that lately, too! I don't use this device very much (and I don't like when it's overused). When I *do* use it, I'm thinking of it more as the MC questioning herself, not the reader...
    And I'm thinking yes, it's OK in publishing since it's out there~ :o)

  6. I really try to limit it. Maybe a line or two, but like LTM, I try to place it where the character is talking to himself.

  7. I use questions when I'm writing, sometimes; although they aren't really prevalent. I don't mind it when the character "asks" the reader something, since it sometimes make me think harder about what they're going through.

  8. If it makes the story clearer, leave it in. If it confuses the story, leave it out. If it does neither, cut or leave it, that's an opinion.

    I call the phenomenon you describe "talking with the characters," not the reader.

    You see this ALL the time in published works, even movies. My favorite is when the good guy is tied up and the bad guy starts a lecture, and the good guy from his chair says: Let's get on with this, shall we? I don't have all day for you to kill me.

    That's the character telling you, the author, that the scene is boring. I try to listen to the characters and cut those scenes.

    The word "wonder" is on my watch-list. I don't like my characters to wonder, of if they do wonder, I try to keep it short, like a paragraph or two and no more.

    I personally do not like the question-asking, but I've seen it plenty, and it works fine, especially in psy-thrillers like horror and mystery.

    So, to each her own, and see my first paragraph. That's all that matters.

    - Eric

  9. I've caught myself doing that in my WIP, and when I reread it, it was kind of jarring. Why is she talking to me? I'm not sure I like it, but with some genres, it might work, especially in MG/YA.

  10. hi miss christine! thats a pretty hard question cause its hard knowing how much could be ok and how much gets thing out of whack. for me i like getting talked to some but not til it gets like im getting lectured or like i gotta jump in and do something. i like when it get me thinking. i like what that other miss christine said that you gotta do a balance on it.
    ...hugs from lenny

  11. I've seen it done, and if done well, it works. You just have to find out what works. Hard line to draw.

  12. Happy Monday, Christine:) (as if such a thing exists)

    ...I've come across this in the past and have found it both intriguing, and at times a bit of an irritant. My take? (currently worth less than the healthy nutrients I'm receiving from my Wendy's cheeseburger,) if done properly, and in a way so as not to disturb the flow of the drama, it's a neat way of reeling in the reader's opinion. If overused, it can actually wither a reader's train of thought. I've caught myself skipping over these passages in order to continue with the story without pause.

    Great post, Christine!

  13. Good questions! I've seen this, too--been oblivious, been told to stop it, realized what I was doing, STOPPED (as best I could), and now I realize it happens in published books more than you'd imagine.

    IF THEY PROS CAN DO IT, why can't I?!

    - My opinion:
    There's got to be a GOOD reason for it. You can't ever NOT tell readers something and there's no way you can show everything. So there's this certain middle ground/grey area when you can tell something because it's necessary to know in order to understand what's going on in the scene or in the book.

    - My feelings:
    It can be good, it can be had. Sometimes it's boring and I don't care what the character is wearing, but it can really tell me something. Why'd she put on jeans and not a skirt? Oh, she's a tomboy. I like it in moderation! In excess, soooo boring.

    - Best to use:
    When it's necessary, when you're giving details that do more than just ONE thing. If it's describing their clothes, word-building, AND characterization: good. If you just feel like telling your readers to the very last detail what your MC is wearing: baaaaaaad.

    So I guess there isn't just a skill to recognize when you're telling. There's also one to recognize if it's needed or not--if you can paraphrase or rearrange and make it work!

    I'd answer the last two questions, BUT they've got pretty boring answers, so I'll save you!