Friday, November 14, 2008

Normal or Paranormal?

My wife, Julia, sometimes reads paranormal novels. Last night she was particularly piqued at one that she was reading. She was thinking of putting it down because it was so derivative of another that she had read. The protagonist was "Mary Sue," who can do anything. In addition, too many subplots cluttered the book. Finally, Julia thought that the author had a big problem with telling and showing.

Here is a description and a pacing problem in a sliver of a scene. Raphael's brother tells him that a woman Raphael likes has been killed.

Blood drained from Raphael's face. "Renee?"

His brother raced down the stairs. When Raphael returned he looked grim. "Too late. There's people in front of the shop. She's been found."

Since the the first line has Raphael speaking, and the next line says, "His brother," the reader likely reads that Raphael's brother raced down the stairs. But no, Raphael has raced down the stairs. Another problem is that in one line Raphael races down the stairs, and in the next line he trudges back, without even a paragraph break or hint that time has passed.

The biggest "showing vs. telling" problem happened at an important place--the climax of the story. The story had been, in its own way, leading toward a huge battle. The battle started with blood and fur flying. Then we read this paragraph at the climactic moment of the climactic scene.

A loud snarling split the air. Her gaze whipped to the open doorway. Three large gray wolves entered the courtyard. Relief filled her. Damien's brothers joined the fight. It was soon over, and Adam and his clones were dead.

At the physical climax of the book, "It was soon over." Wow.

Let me say that I am not a fan of fight scenes that go on forever. But the climax of the book is no place for narration. That's got to be scene, baby, scene!

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