Back in college a professor told me to mimic my favorite authors’ styles. He said it would do me great justice and help me in the long run.
I didn’t. In fact, college ruined me for reading books, too. I studied the crap out of Dante and Poe and Faulkner. And Morrison, but I love her writing so much I could never stop reading.
Six years running, I read next to nothing. I had a thousand excuses: I disliked the plots, characters, settings. I couldn’t stand the flow, the asinine story, the shallow and poorly executed tropes. I hated dissertations on society.
Then I got d’beetus. *Queue violin* Wah. Long story short, I started reading again. And as an exercise for proactive publication purposes, I decided to read debut authors’ stories to see how they do it. After reading, oh, twenty or so books, I’ve realized what a lot of them share: a faceless narrator. A vessel in which the reader can view the world.
I think it’s called the Everyman in academic circles. Not exactly Mary Sue, or John Smith, or whatever. The android that interacts with everything FOR the reader, if that makes sense. Like that Avatar movie, where the government constructed some blue guys so the cripple vet could run free again and forward conquest. They tried to obtain unobtainium, by the way. Worst. Plot Device. Ever.
Anyway, since NaNo I’ve struggled with an idea I had–which was nothing more than a made-up religion–and fought through five or so incarnations of a story before settling on one that’s flourishing. Why is it flourishing? It’s a story about a young girl with no preconceptions. She has training, wants, dreams, but no message. She has no vim. She’s terrified. People die. But I’m testing something I find fabulous: stuff goes on around her, and she DOESN’T comment on it. To the reader. To the other characters.
This idea came from a particularly striking critique of my most “accessible” story to date, from my brother, who said, among other things, that David, who is thirteen, feels obligated to comment on everything. Every breath of wind. Every wayward glance. Every misused drumstick. Why? I wanted to create a school of magic where the MC bended the rules. I should have re-read Ender’s Game, because Ender is an Everyman.
If you want to write a fiction that focuses on setting or larger belief systems, it might be in your best interest to write a Faceless MC, where the reader can simply slip into it, observe and learn, and all his/her past experiences before the book began are moot or peripheral. Not in the forefront. Not ultra-important.
Simply put, a person experiencing life as it happens instead of someone obsessing about the present. I’m not sure if I’m the only one struggling with this, but I know, from reading at CritiqueCircle.com, a lot of people like to focus on the everyday, unimportant aspects of a story. It bogs the story down, I think, and makes the reader disinterested.