Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Judging a Character by a Reaction

In one week, I will be taking my children (ages 6 and 9) and heading up north to visit family. We're going to go the long way. The VERY long way... by train. That's right, a 46 hour journey from San Antonio to Saratoga.

I got two very different reactions when I shared my travel plans with the family members I'm going to visit.

Family member #1: "Are you sure? You'll be so tired when you get here. Do want some money so you could fly instead? The trains are usually late, you know. Are you sure you want to do that?"

Family member #2: "What a fantastic idea! You are going to have such an adventure. The kids will love it! I love travelling by train."

I bet you could form judgements about the speakers based just on the above reactions. And you'd probably be right. This is why dialogue is so critical in writing... it reveals SO much without having to tell the reader specifically.


  1. I agree with Family Member #2. Sounds wonderful!

  2. What an awesome adventure! And--this is a great demonstration of your point, and a perfect example of how you can trust your reader to get it if you just SHOW the character through dialogue and other things--instead of telling.

  3. Hi Jenna,

    My name's Kate, and I'm a newly-agented writer from Utah. I found your blog this evening when I was surfing and I just thought I'd stop and say hi. I've loved reading through your posts! Character reactions are so important...I think oftentimes writers need to focus more on reaction and less on action alone.

    Anyways, looking forward to more of your posts!