Monday, October 12, 2009

Active versus Passive Goals, CRAFT

I'm a great fan of Andre Norton, the incredible sf and fantasy author.

When I read Norton’s MERLIN'S MIRROR, I was so disappointed by the book I reread it to figure out why.

The character of Merlin has a mirror which tells him the future, and he has to make it happen. Through the whole novel, he does all kinds of active things but doesn't make the first important decision about his own life or what he wants to do. Instead, he's led along by that dang mirror.

He is as passive, in many ways, as a character who is always reacting to others rather than charting his own course, and a passive main character means a boring book.

Being active as a character is as much about choices as it is about running around doing stuff to achieve a goal, particularly someone else's goal.

ASK ME A QUESTION! If you have a writing or publishing question, please ask. Contact me via this blog or via email at marilynnbyerly at

1 comment:

ozambersand said...

You did say we could ask...

I have query about the correct way to convey internal thoughts and sounds.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style:
"11.47Unspoken discourse
Thought, imagined dialogue, and other interior discourse may be enclosed in quotation marks or not, according to the context or the writer’s preference."

I gather whether quotation marks are used and which type varies from publishing house to publishing house. Is that correct?

In deep Third POV, it’s quite common to have a fair amount of this.

I try to ask myself whether the person is posing themselves a specific question or stating some fact to themselves. If they are, I put them, otherwise I don’t. Is this the best way to do it?

What if they ask themselves a rhetorical question?

There’s so many borderline cases.

I also have problems with the verb’s tense in internal discourse eg.
She loosened her grip, so the rope slid through her hands and let her feet slide over the knot. Shit – rope burn. Her feet reached another knot. She clung to the rope, her body shaking, her palms sweating so hard they felt cold. This wasn’t working.

Should the last bit be This isn’t working.?

Speaking of quotation marks:
Also if you’re trying to signify there is a sound made, does it go inside single or double quotes or can you use italics? eg

Her back hit the railing with a loud thunk.

thanks in anticipation