You Don't Need to Hear About the Bead

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"In order to develop a living, breathing, multi faceted character, it is important to know way more about the character than you will ever use in the story" (Short Stories:10 Tips for Novice Creative Writers).

 

This makes perfect sense.  The characters cannot speak for themselves so the writer has to speak for them.  This quote also calls to attention that you don't let the reader know everything about your character.  If they know everything, what is there left for them to think about, not to mention, in a short story, you don't have enough room to tell everything.What would the character want the reader to know about him/her?  The reader does not need to know that when the character was six she put a bead in her ear because she thought it would fall out her other ear unless that is necessary to the plot.

7 Comments

Stephanie Wytovich said:

I think that is one of the reasons that writing a short story is so hard. You have to choose your details and your dialogue very carefully because you're limited in space. I know that when I'm finished writing a short story, I always re-read it several times, and then have someone else read it. That way, they can tell me if they think a part of it is irrelevant or not.

Kayley Dardano said:

sometimes what makes a reader want to keep reading is the fact that their questions are not answered yet. so that is why you don't have to answer all the questions other wise the reader would stop reading cause their is nothing for them to figure out.

Angelica Guzzo said:

Short Stories are difficult to write. It's hard to pick out only the important facts. It's easy to wander off into details.

Deana Kubat said:

i agree, that since characters cannot speak up for themselves, the author has to provide details about them, but only a few. if an author would give away everything about the characters then there would be no plot, no catch. there always have to be something that is unknown about the character to give a good story its "wow" factor.

Katie Vann said:

I thought you made a really good point Angela. While writing a short story, you can't leave your characters too shallow or you won't be able to hook the reader and have them care about the characters. But, because of the length of the story, you don't have room to go into great deal about a character as you would in a novel. So, when writing a short story, you need detail enough about your characters for the reader to care about them, but not enouugh to lead away from the main point of the story.

I chose the same quote. I completely agree--"the characters cannot speak for themselves so the writer has to speak for them." We are their voices (that's pretty powerful) and if we slack off just one little bit in our character development, we could kill an entire character. But at the same time, we cannot overload the audience with every little detail about the character. It would soon become "The Biography of a Fictional Character in my Short Story". It is hard to find that balance, but once we get the right dose of mystery and the right dose of information, the readers will be begging to know more.

Greta Carroll said:

Angela, ha-ha, I like your example of unnecessary information. And I really agree with you. Too often I just start writing without any clear idea of who my character actually is. Taking time and deciding who she is, really can help to make the character more realistic and the short story better. As you said, it is not just about what we do tell the audience about the character, but also what we consciously choose not to tell them.

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