Mumbling Main Characters

Cookie Thief!

Mrs MacTavish walked into her kitchen after a short nap and surveyed her cooling racks. “Oh no,” she screeched. Someone was here while I was napping and stole half a dozen cookies!” She wrung her hands together. “Who could have done such a thing?”

Mrs Mac had been up early this morning. At least for her it was early, though some people wouldn’t think so. She’d baked three dozen gingerbread cookies to serve to her friends who were coming to tea this afternoon. Most of the cookies had come out delightfully round and plump, but a few of them looked a little too eccentric to serve to her friends. She’d set them aside on a separate cooling rack, thinking to offer them to Mr Mac when he came in for lunch.

She might not have begrudged the loss of the odd ones, but the thief had stolen six of the best. The ones she planned to serve with pride this afternoon, especially to show Jenny Lyons that she could bake cookies that looked just as nice as Jenny’s always did.

Furious, Mrs Mac looked around for some clue. Ah! There in the flour she’d dusted on the floor by accident. She hadn’t got around to sweeping it up because she’d misplaced her dustpan yesterday while she was cleaning house. I’m misplacing things so often these days, she thought. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m getting dementia!

Now, right there in that floury spot she saw one clear footprint. She bent down and examined the tread pattern carefully. The upper part was an interesting chevron pattern, something like her husband’s work boot. But this was smaller, so it couldn’t have been him. She was glad for that. He was a hard man to reprove, her Mac.

The missing cookies bothered her but it bothered her even more that someone had entered her kitchen and taken them without her hearing the door. Her hearing was getting worse, she knew. Maybe I should buy a hearing aid, one of those fancy contraptions like Mary Fraser just got herself? Nope. I’m saving my money for a trip to London in the fall. My cousin Nancy went last year and had a grand old time or so she said. Of course Nancy would, even if she hadn’t. She’s that sort of person.

If my story is A Day in the Life of Mrs Mac, this would work. If my story is The Missing Cookie Caper, this excerpt gives you way too much unnecessary info to digest – pardon the pun.

Mumbling Protagonists

I downloaded an e-book a week ago anticipating a cozy mystery. However, the age 60-plus main character does so much ramble-thinking it may as well be a memoir. She’s constantly comparing this-that-and-the-other or considering her family and her / their situation, or rehashing a dream she had. To me it feels like she’s mumbling to herself straight time. The mysterious deaths are lost in the fog. She sounds like an air-head because her mind wanders everywhere.

Doing a critique for a new writer yesterday, reading his Chapter One, I got the same feeling. Some nice metaphors. Just way too many.

Charles Dickens was a lover of metaphors, similes, personification and such – and he used them well.
The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.

People then had no media but the local raconteur and the printed page. Folks had time to read and obviously loved vivid descriptions. Today’s editors want Tight and Terse; readers don’t want a lot of metaphoric rambles, however colorful they be.

12 thoughts on “Mumbling Main Characters

    1. Or perhaps a grandchild crept in. Thanks for your suggestions. 🙂

      In normal life all kinds of thoughts run through my mind, or some incident triggers a line of song, or an article I’ve read. Stirring cream in my coffee yesterday reminded me of Carly Simon’s song, “You’re So Vain.” Can you follow that thread? 😉
      Writers who try to put trails of of everyday thinking into a novel actually pull a reader out of the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Invaluable it is. I learned a lot, too, but found I couldn’t do justice to reading and commenting on the hundred-plus other stories posted. When a challenge is really helpful, everyone gets involved and soon it’s so large it’s hard to keep up.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What? How could you just leave us like that? I have all sorts of ideas running around in my head.

    And today’s society needs to learn to stop and enjoy… that bit of prose from Dickens is just so beautiful. I wish I could write like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry. You’ll just have to solve the mystery of the cookie thief. 🙂

      I agree about Charles Dickens’ prose: it is beautiful. Descriptions sprinkled here and there give the story a nice seasoning — in moderation. However, I reread the first couple of pages of A Christmas Carol and must admit I don’t have the patience to wade through the long metaphors in almost every sentence. You think you’re never going to get to what actually happened. Maybe Friday Fictioneers did this to me? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so mean. Where is your Christmas spirit? 😉 Just kiddin’

        I won’t like. I do hate books that have prose that goes on and on… like Anna Karenina. Do we really need to know how many buttons there are on her dress? Then again, I think I also think FF has taught us how to cut the fluff, as it were.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have also been following Jerry Jenkins’ “How to be a ferocious self-editor” lessons. Wannabe writers submit their first page and he demonstrates how to tighten by cutting Every. Single, Nonessential. Word. It’s amazing. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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