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By Jeanne Marie Leach

Unlike non-fiction, fiction doesn’t allow for any comments whatsoever to come directly from the author as if they were a character. That includes no parentheses at all. When you insert yourself into the story, this is called author intrusion.

Examples of author intrusion:

  •  Incorrect: James remembered how his mother loved to watch him play baseball (his mother had died when he was fifteen).
  •  Correct: James remembered how his mother loved to watch him play baseball. Even though she died when he was fifteen, he still missed her so much.
  •  Incorrect: The family decided unanimously to visit Mount Rushmore this summer. Their excitement grew as the day of the trip drew closer. Mount Rushmore is in the Black Hills in the southwestern part of South Dakota and was built on mountain of solid granite that has a medium grain texture. This is what made the mountain ideal for such a huge sculpture; it was easy to carve but survives the harsh weather conditions with little or no erosion.
  • Correct: The family had decided unanimously to visit Mount Rushmore this summer. Their excitement grew as the day drew closer when they would head out for their trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Did you pick up on these? In the first example, this was blatant. The author decided to TELL you some information she thought you should know and put it in parentheses. This took you out of the story momentarily.

The second example was a bit more like an information dump and was definitely more of a lesson to show that the author had done her research. Instead of giving the reader as much information as you can all at once, let this type of info come through the story in a natural way. Remember, not all of your research will actually end up on the pages of your novel. It doesn’t have to.

Once you’ve been made aware of author intrusion, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll be able to spot it in a fictitious story.

 

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