Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Character Backgrounds Run Aground

Finished The Black Widow Agency. I appreciate the author's idea - four women who bring their talents together to help other women who have been mistreated by men. Somehow I think it would make a great television series...sort of like Leverage (which I love)... just with women only.

In this book there is a lot of time spent explaining the backgrounds of each of the women including all their little quirks. I have already mentioned the tarantula. One woman has a drinking problem. One has a flagrantly homosexual brother. Another is always fanning herself and putting cold cloths on her head due to hot flashes. These idiosyncracies would play out better on screen.

I have noticed in some books that the author seems to have read or heard in a fiction writing course that each character 'needs' a background. I can picture the author writing furiously creating odd personalities and histories. All of that may be fun for the writer, but for the reader too much of a good thing gets tiresome. The backgrounds become filler and don't necessarily carry the action forward. I do want to know what the characters were like before they showed up on the page, but not every single detail of what makes them tick, thank you very much.

So I am moving on to Paris: The Grave Gourmet by Alexander Campion with Parisian policewoman Capucine Le Tellier and her food critic husband Alexandre. I hope I won't be overwhelmed with TMI.

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