Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Get Out.

There's a funny thing going on in some manuscripts I've read recently. It's the Stand-In. This is usually the main POV character, often in a first-person book, but the Stand-In isn't doing much for all their importance.

Here's what I mean. I heard a screenplay being read a few years ago. There was a big scene with many characters. The main character had only two lines of dialogue. The first was "I don't know why you called me to be here." Their last line was "I don't know why you needed me here."

That's a Stand-In. They are placeholders for the writer, who wants to be in the story but can't. So the Stand-In watches the action. Another symptom is that there is some other character who is much more interesting and active in the story.

The takeaways here are two: one, get out of your story. Two, listen to your characters. If they can't figure out why they should be there, they probably shouldn't be.

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