Thursday, October 30, 2008

Annoying Writer Tricks.

I've been reading a book that is doubtless going to win some big awards this year. Not a perfect book, but it has that prizewinning shine to it. But it does have an element that has been driving me mad, in good books and bad, for ever and ever and ever.

There's a ghost in the book. Actually, there are a couple of key ghosts thus far; ghosts with whom the main character can communicate. The one ghost who is incidental to the story could talk and talk about anything that came to mind. The other ghost, who is crucial to the story, can't always.


This ghost's description is exceedingly clever. He can speak to the main character. He can even use a rather extraordinary method to convey his memories to the main character. But when the ghost comes down to the most important information— which of course he left for last— he can only give mysterious hints before vanishing. ARGH!!!

There is also an eerie psychic-type character, a live human, who seems perfectly capable of clear speech until she has something important to say to the main character. Then she suddenly speaks in Mystery Talk. Does the main character ask her what she means? Nope.

Authors, control the delivery of information. If you haven't established a reason for the communication to be unclear, don't just make it unclear for stylistic purposes. It will make your readers CR_Z_.

No comments: