Lesson Twenty from a Manuscript Red Line: Don’t make things so easy

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

In the Gold Mine Manuscript, there is a point where the MC is thrust into the magical world.  He has been there for a few days, and suddenly he is faced with an animal that can speak to him through their minds.

In concept, this is fine.  However, the publisher red-lined that the MC was “too accepting” of this.  The MC just jumped in and said “okay, no problem” – well, he didn’t say it that way, but he jumped right on board.

The publisher said that it would be okay for the characters who were born into this world to be fine with this, but the MC should not accept so easily.  A few paragraphs later, the MC also tells his friend  that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and that he’s harmless… they red-lined that too.

Think of it this way… if you ran into a guy in the street, and just started talking to him for a few minutes, would you be willing to risk your life, and your best friend’s life in trusting this person, or would you be a little wary?  Now make this person a really large mythical animal.  Getting nervous yet?

Be careful that you don’t put your own knowledge into your character’s heads before that knowledge is learned.  You as the author know there is nothing to fear, but to make it realistic, your character’s “trust” needs to be earned to a degree.  Let relationships develop so they seem more natural and believable.  Don’t take the easy way out to move your story ahead more quickly.

Think over your novel.  Have you done anything like this?




6 responses to “Lesson Twenty from a Manuscript Red Line: Don’t make things so easy

  1. I’m always reminded of the Narnia movie (can’t remember the book) where the children first enter Narnia and meet the beaver. Peter tries to gain the beavers trust by genturing to it and the beaver responds with a think British accent. Peter also seems too accepting of this and Susan says, “He’s a beaver, he shouldn’t be saying anything!” Now, that’s more like it. Another thing I’m wary of with my own work. I’ve probably done it but need someone else to tell me. 🙂

  2. I’m not sure. Thanks for the tip, Jennifer. Will do some weeding. 😀

  3. This is a really tough thing to get right in a book. My MC is a normal guy thrust into a supernatural world as well, and he’s a pretty paranoid person to boot. In my first few drafts, I dragged him kicking and screaming into it – absolutely unaccepting of magic, etc, and beta readers found him too “whiny”, too “emotive”, not likeable, etc. Then I toned it down. While readers liked HIM more, they thought he was too accepting of abnormality now. UGH!

    I think the key thing is to give your character at least absolutely undeniable moment and then have them accept the world from that point forward. My MC is suspicious of people’s *claims* at first, but he is forced to accept them because his sister’s life is in danger. Then, when he sees the claims proven with his own eyes, his mind is pretty much forced to accept that it’s true.