Today I have another writing-related post. Do your characters pass judgement?
It’s something I’ve seen blogged about in regards to point-of-view, and it also has quite a bit to do with showing. Your characters, as you write them (especially whichever character is leading the scene), pass judgment on everything they see or hear. This may be good, or it may be bad. It’s how they view the world, and it shows their attitude and voice. For example, take the small bit of scene from the manuscript I’m currently working on (Glitch).
Val pushes a plate of ham and eggs in front of me. She polished hers off a good while ago, as if she has already forgotten yesterday’s concerns. “When’s the last time you ate?”
I’m not sure. Maybe that’s why my head feels fuzzy. I push the plate aside and go for a bowl of applesauce. Though the chunky apples are practical, they taste far more extravagant than anything the Community… or the Coalition… would serve. I check the recipe in the database: cinnamon, chili powder, nutmeg.
I’d be happy with sugar.
If I’ve done my work right, the scene should give you a few clues into the main character’s personality: a bit more down-to-earth (going for practicality), curiosity (he checks the database for something as simple as a recipe), and to some degree, simplicity (being happy with just sugar, and not the other spices). When you look at the scene on the whole, he’s passing judgment on the applesauce… even though it might not be something we’d normally thinking of passing judgement on. It’s not meant that he’s being negative, only that we see it from his point of view.
Now, for a bit more obvious of a scene passing judgement:
The door opens to a bright, tall room. I breathe sharply. The Legion Spore is ugly. There’s something awkward about the mess of tentacles dangling beneath the Legion Spore’s fleshy, bulbous body, though I’m drawn to the thin membrane of its air sac. Pink fins softly ripple, glowing under the blue light.
Short, since the rest would be confusing out of context, but the main character is being introduced to the vessel he’s going to be piloting, which is a monster in its own right. While it’s supposed to be ugly, like he says, it’s also supposed to be impressive. Now, both these scenes are still in draft-phase, so I may end up changing them or omitting sections altogether, but the idea is there. The main character passes judgement. ‘Awkward’ and ‘mess’ are both negative descriptors, while the softly rippling fins are meant to be positive.
These may just be my own meanderings I’ve been considering, but feel free to share your thoughts. Have you noticed your characters passing judgment? Are the scenes in which they do more prone to being “showing” rather than “telling?” What are your thoughts?