Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Describing a Scene When Your Character is Running for their Lives

Ashley's birthday special!
After reading The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan, I couldn't help but notice a common reappearance: describing a room when the main character is running for his/her life and you're using first person.
I'm sorry did I miss something? If I was running for my life I would not be describing the room I had ran into. More like I would be freaking out and as the author I would be writing about the emotions running through my body in the heat of the moment.
In The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan there's a scene with main character, Carter Kane, who is being chased by a crazy bull with lazer beams (don't ask). He's running through a maze and the poor 15 year old character is freaking out, having no plan or idea of how to get out of this mad situation. A character running next to him, Zia Rashid, pulls him down a side entrance with her and they enter a great room. Now Carter Kane is describing the room in the heat of the battle with the crazy bull on his tail.
It's awkward!
I know some of you may disagree here but it doesn't add up.
Honestly, if you really want to describe that room than please wait until after your character has defeated the crazy bull shooting lazer beams at him/her.
The only exception is this common writing mistake is during the fight. When your character is desperate for something to help them out, then your character will be quickly scanning the room in desperation.
I'm not entirely criticizing Riordan's move in this particular scene but maybe you could have stationed that one paragraph into another scene.
Also in this different situation with Rick Riordan's novels, his previous series (Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson and the Olympians) the main characters have ADHD and dyslexia. Those characters are going to be running into a room chased by some ungodly creature and yes they are going to be scanning that room as quickly as they can because of their condition/ ability.
In the Kane Chronicles, the characters are normal kids with the blood of the pharaohs (ok not so normal as they may appear) but when did they have ADHD? They don't but the only excuse here is the character was on adrenaline in the near death experience.
If YOU are going to be writing a scene similar to this situation with Carter Kane in The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan, than please choose wisely with where you put your descriptions of a room or anything else in your scenes!
Someone like me may come along and ask, why did you describe that when your character is about to be blown to a trillion particles? 

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