Monday, July 16, 2012

Recognizing our Blind Spots

Every writer has their blind spots.  Weak points in their writing born from their style, their biases, their personal preferences. 

For me, I know exactly what my big one is: physical description of characters.

Now, I don't have a big problem with Big Salient Details.  Height, body type, skin color.  If someone has an attribute that makes them stand out from the crowd, it's going to get mentioned. 

But for the more mundane aspects of description, I hit a wall.  I know part of it is, for me, it feels very artificial.  Making note of a character's eye color or hair-- especially multiple times-- always creaks when I read it.  Perhaps it's because in the Early Days of the Internet, I read plenty of Bad Fanfic*, and that stuff is LOADED with Physical Detail Minutiae.  I can't even begin to tell you how many pieces I've read-- fanfic or not-- where after the first few thousand words I still wouldn't have any clue what the plot or conflict of the story was going to be... but I knew EVERYONE'S hair and eye color. 

The inverse is also true when I'm reading.  Frankly, if I read something and never really get a strong physical description of the protagonist or minor characters-- I really don't notice.  It doesn't stand out to me as something I'm lacking. 

So: I have awareness of my blind spot.  The question is, can I use that awareness?  Can I push past the artificial feeling the physical descriptions give me, and give a strong sense of character appearances? 

That's the challenge that's on my mind right now.


*- And never wrote any. No, not me.  If you find any, it totally was that other Marshall Ryan Maresca.


Anonymous said...

My blind spot is thinking the reader has insider knowledge and so I forget to flesh out details enough - could be of the world or the characters.

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Oh, yeah. I know that one. In one of my trunked novels, I had the strong camaraderie between various characters so clear in my head, I didn't bother to establish it at all.