clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Monday, July 15, 2013

Completely Unreliable

No, I will not drone on about WIP. I will however talk about unreliable characters.

I am not able to pull off the unreliable narrator. I cannot afford to break the trust of my reader because my prose is not strong enough to keep them if they believe they have been deceived in narration.

However, in the 3rd person omniscient - or limited omniscient - the reader can witness the personal failings of my character without growing to dislike the character.

Picture a character two steps past bumbling: a bit like old Nik here. Cage in this picture looks like a guy you might loan your keys to knowing that when you see him again the odds are better than 50-50 that he'll greet you with one of those "A funny thing happened as I was in your car..."  lines.

You want to trust the guy. You want to believe he'll come through for you. Inside, you suspect he'll disappoint you most of the time.

In my world, that's God. He's just that sort of fellow. In your world, it might be old Nik here.

When I was a boy, I wrote a story about "Bad Lassie." Loved and fed by Timmy, she was a great dog, and then she ran off. Timmy went all over the country looking for Lassie. Many people saw her - Mr. Burt who chased her off for killing his chicken. Mr. Fred who chased her off for chasing his cows. Mrs. Tunny told Timmy she kicked Bad Lassie when Lassie knocked her down and stole the roast from her market bag.

Timmy would respond "that's not the Lassie I know" in disbelief.

I didn't know a lot about plot. Timmy never found Lassie. The story was just a sting of mis-adventures from the sweet dog Timmy knew brought on by Bad Lassie.

No, I didn't like Timmy. Kids like that set a bad example. I knew where the trouble came from: straight arrows like that little bastard. If those kids were gone, the rest of us would have looked a lot better.

Never a well around when you need one.

I hope you re writing. I hope your characters are only full of disappointment when they're on the page.

Push an editor down a well tonight. You'll feel better.

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