#12, #29 - heck, at various times I'm stilled plagued by lots of it. Practice, practice.
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I happen to wholeheartedly agree with removing the filtering from a point of view character; unless your intention is to distance the character from the reader.
For example, I rarely say something like: Thomas heard the sound of a shotgun blast. Instead, I try to say: A shotgun blast rang out. I think it's more immediate, uses stronger language, and, doggonit, it's just better writing.
I think they're only guidelines - the suggestion was to avoid filtering 'wherever possible'.
A beginner or inexperienced writer is likely to filter everything - not because that's the way he chooses to report a character's feelings but because he doesn't know any other way to do it, and it can be jarring and amateurish.
The more experienced writer can get away with mixing them up - filtering or not, as and when he feels it works better to adopt one way over the other.
Everything yields to treatment.
**silently judging MGraybosch for not knowing what filtering was, and not doing it in the first place**
**hands him more catnip**
Great list, but I have a question here. How do I show someone thought something (when using 3rd person) without saying they thought it? Can I just state it and assume the reader knows these opinions are those of that particular character and not some floating entity?
OK, super. I just wasn't sure if it was something that could be entirely avoided while still being comprehensible. I have general trouble with third person, anyway. And now I've made it more complicated on myself by going back and forth between two characters in a chapter. So, this has certainly been something I've been thinking about.
Wow, this is a useful list. I'm surprised that my new WIP doesn't go against them much. (Guess that's the benefit of all of the false starts I had over the past month or so.)
Some thoughts on specifics, though.
2. I think this can be a big "newbie trap" in both directions. Too little of this, and there might not be much suspense. But too much of it, and readers start getting frustrated that the conflict is "contrived." It's like when a sitcom plot is based entirely on some ludicrously simple misunderstanding. It's mildly funny the first time, but gets annoying when you see it in every episode of every show.
I'm saying this because I think I'm guilty of having overly secretive, melodramatic characters at times, and I'm trying not to overdo it.
6. This has been difficult for me at times. I can do it, but it took me a while to figure out ways to make the dialogue breaking sentences look relevant, rather than being contrived ways to break up dialogue. So, an addition to this advice is "Try to have something else going on during dialogue so that characters can do something other than body language or tying their shoes."
19. This sounds like silly, insincere "advice" in a list of useful, sincere advice. Does the author really mean this? If so, it's completely absurd, like unironically saying "never write an action scene without ninjas or zombies." I guess perhaps the intent was to say "Don't have unnecessary sex scenes just for the heck of it."
20. This is another one that's hard for me to do, but I'm getting better about it. As a reader, I do think that many authors (and scriptwriters) overdo this a little bit at times.* The key is to do it enough that you create maximum suspense. If you go too far, the reader starts feeling like you're going to screw over the protagonist no matter what, and there's no reason to get emotionally invested in her. Knowing that everything will always turn out alright can ruin suspense, but so can knowing that everything will always go wrong.
*I'm not resisting the notion that I need to do it more, though. Even if someone else does it too much, there's no excuse for me not to do it enough.
23. I think this could have been worded a lot better. Characters shouldn't always speak formally (and many characters should never speak formally), but they should be able to communicate beyond grunts and sentence fragments.
I don't see the problem...John took the knife out of its sheath and stabbed Paul with it. Well, that’s good news for Paul. If you travel backwards from ‘it’, you’ll see that John has stabbed Paul with the sheath!
"Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."
Great post! I laughed out loud at rule 20: "Torture your protaginist." I do well at following this list, but rereading the list is important. Thank you!