Thursday, July 22, 2010
Writerz Blok: You're OK, but your MC is a jackwagon
This is probably the most embarrassing aspect of my life to which I'll ever confess.
But I'm a fan of the show Judge Judy.
I can't help it. I like guessing which person the judge will believe.
It's usually not hard. Not if you look for the telltale signs of insincerity. Fidgeting. Eye rolling. Arm crossing. Stuttering and stammering. People give away a lot about themselves through speech, body language and facial expressions.
First impressions are made very quickly.
And you know what Momma always said about getting a second chance to make a first impression. . .
It doesn't happen. Truly.
Studies have shown that people form their first impressions of strangers in less than five seconds.
And it's hard to overcome a negative first impression. Most people -- even the ones who've displayed a poor judge of character in the past -- believe their first impression is right on.
So what does that have to do with being a writer?
Everything . . . when your main character is the one who needs to do the dazzling.
That's part of the reason why the first page is so important.
(insert groan here)
I know. I know. I'd be the first person to say there's way too much emphasis put on the first page of a story.
But maybe it should be looked at like this: The first 250 words of a manuscript are like those five seconds your MC has to leave a good first impression on a reader.
The reader has to be sympathetic to your MC.
But your MC can't come across as pathetic.
Your MC has to display some sort of trait that makes him attractive to the reader.
But he has to have flaws because readers won't relate to a character who is perfect.
Your main character has to give a little bit of himself away so the reader can form a bond with him.
But your MC can't "tell" too much or give away the farm. After all, a little intrigue goes a long way.
Of course, it's all subjective.
I don't like everyone I meet. In fact, I'd rather chew off my left foot than spend too much time with certain people I know. But very few people go through life completely unloved; almost everyone has at least one redeeming quality
As long as your main character has a likeable trait from the getgo, someone will love him, too.
What do you like about your main character?