Purple Prose + description

Through the Eyes of the Beholder

©Stina Lindenblatt

When reading a book, the reader wants to connect with your character. If this doesn’t happen, she’ll probably quit reading.

In addition to inner thoughts, which I covered last week, one of the best ways to help the reader connect with your character is to make sure everything is witnessed through the character’s “eyes”. It doesn’t matter if the story is in first or third person, everything seen, touched, tasted, smelled, and heard needs to be described from that scene character’s point of view.

That doesn’t mean her best friend can’t point out that the liver pâté tastes like road kill that had been plastered on the highway for two weeks before it was “harvested”. It just means if your point of view character doesn’t think like this, she shouldn’t be using these words in her inner thoughts. It’s not her voice; it’s the best friend’s.

The closer the reader feels to the character, the more she’ll be able to connect with her. To do this, you need to cut as many filter words as possible (e.g. felt, heard, saw). This way the reader feels like she’s living vicariously through the character, which makes the story come alive. With filter words, you force the reader to feel like an observer, not a participant.

See the difference:

Mathew heard the bell on the diner’s front door as it opened.
The bell on the diner’s front door rang as the door opened.

Mathew smelled the stench of rotting corpses.
The stench of rotting corpses choked the air.

The bark felt rough.
Brianne traced her fingers across the rough bark.

Remember, by showing things from the character’s point of view, you reveal characterization and her voice will come to life.

Do you have any tricks to help a reader connect with a character?

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Through the Eyes of the Beholder + description