Monday, July 20, 2009
Cut 'em some slack
It matters a lot to me that I like the main character in a book. If I can't find something about the person I can relate to, or if I can't imagine spending time with such a character, I lose interest.
So why am I still reading a book in which the narrator is so in love with this vindictive, self-centered , and marginally psycho girl that he tosses all common sense and self-respect out his Chrysler minivan?
The author is John Green for one. He has a reputation of delivering. And psycho girl isn't the main character, the boy who's in love with her is. He may be a knucklehead, but he is a likable knucklehead. Also, I have a soft spot for the girl-who-loves-and-tries-to-reform-a-broken-love-of-her-life, so I'm willing to go for a ride with a boy like that. In other words, I'm cutting the book some slack because of the writing/the author's previous works, a trust that he will handle the story in a satisfying manner; and because of some quirky personal preferences.
I'm not quite at the stage where I want to yell at the character yet (do you yell at TV screens or books?) but I had better find out soon just how this lovable love-sick puppy is going to deal with what happens next. And he'd better deal with it in a non-stupid, non-lame way.
As a writer, I wonder how much time I can spend in showing a character's flaws before my readers lose interest. Too little time, and the character's growth seems negligible. Too much and readers start wondering why they should care.
All these dumb, unclear, and ever-changing lines.