Friday, March 19, 2010
An early criticism of my novel (yes there was one - more than one, but we won't go there) was that there wasn't enough character description - the reader felt like she couldn't 'see' my main character clearly, and that I should include more physical description to bring her to life.
Harrumph, I thought. Sophie Kinsella, author of the popular Shopaholic series, purposely didn't write a description of her central character, Becky Bloomwood.
In a recent interview she said she deliberately never described what Becky looked like, partly because she wanted everyone to relate to her and partly because when she's writing, she's not looking at her, she's looking through her eyes at the world, and didn't think in real-life anyone would ever look look in a mirror and say, "Wow, my shoulder-length, blonde-streaked, shiny hair looks fab today!" though she might say "Wow, my hair looks fab today!"
(As an aside, it's been a long time since I looked in a mirror and said, "Wow, my hair looks fab today!" I'm well overdue for a trim. My daughter tells me it's turned to 'wisp' again. That never happens in novels.)
In another book - the chilling but deeply impressive The Mother's Tale by Camilla Noli - the main character doesn't even have a name, never mind a description. And yet ...
I didn't realise until I read that interview with Sophie Kinsella that Becky Bloomwood didn't have a description, because I'd pictured her so clearly in my mind - I had to go back and check, and it wasn't until I was reading the author notes at the end of The Mother's Tale that the lack of a name even registered. Which taught me something.
No, it wasn't that.
To break the rules, you have to be experienced enough to carry it off so the reader doesn't notice. My reader noticed.
And no, since you ask. I haven't heard from Lovely Agent yet. I'm sticking with the old adage 'no news is good news' until I hear otherwise.