Friday, September 19, 2008

Asperger Syndrome - Who cares about your story?

"The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of Asperger syndrome." This is not only a problem for people, but it is also a problem for protagonists. While the viewpoint character might simply be a narrator, generally, someone (this protagonist) in the story must care deeply about the outcome. (For a general discussion of protagonists and viewpoint characters see How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card). A Book for Today: Keeper of the Keys by Perri OShaughnessy is an example of a novel that suffers from this problem.

As I critique stories on Critters, the wonderful site for aspiring and published SF&F authors, I notice that many beginning writers expect the plot or setting to keep the reader involved and overcome the characters own ennui and lack of involvement with the story. As much as the next reader of SF&F I am interesting the a unique world or a mystical or scientific conundrum, but without the human/alien empathetic connection, the story devolves from a narrative into a exposition and the line is crossed from fiction into non-fiction genre and boredom sets in.

A similar problem occurs when the character cares, but is merely an impotent victim. Readers can rarely empathize with characters who float hopelessly in the current of fate.

Nothing is less worthy of publication that writing which in the characters are not engaging and the information is pure fabrication.

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