How many times have you told your audience that your character wondered something, rather than actually allowed her to wonder it for herself?
Yes, yes, I hear the “Faith, now you’re really confusing me…” voices out there, so here’s what I mean…
Jennifer looked around the room. She wondered why her brother couldn’t be bothered to clean up after himself, even when he knew their guests would arrive later today.
Jennifer looked around the room. Why didn’t Chris ever bother to clean up?
See what I mean? Rather than telling the reader that the character is wondering, you show it through a direct thought or through the deep third-person POV. This kind of thing crops up with things like:
- he/she wondered
- he/she knew
- he/she thought
- he/she considered
I have a tendency to make this mistake ALL the time in first drafts, and spend a lot of time rephrasing sections of my character’s internal dialogue. It’s that pesky “tell” monster that I have to beat time and time again…
How about you… do you find your character ‘wonders’ and ‘knows’ a little too often on your pages?