They say you learn something new every day.

As I mentioned before, I’m reading Your Voice in My Head at the moment. It’s a really good book – and it puts Emma Forrest as one of my top half a dozen writers.

It’s strange, because I never really got on very well with her other books. Namedropper I’ve been reading for what feels like a year. It may just be that I had to buy a paperback rather than a kindle version, and I hate reading physical boosk now. Cherries in the Snow was okay. Both of them have flashes of what would come in Your Voice in My Head, but generally I wasn’t bowled over.

One of the things that’s really great about them is how likeable the characters are. At one point, Emma says:

It’s important to me that my saviour made a misstep at the very beginning. It humbled and humanised him in my head.

And I think there’s a real key thing here – that the characters are humanised. However, more than that, they’re weird:

He once got a credit card saying ‘Sir Jeffrey Forrest’ because American Express was dumb enough to send him an application form with the statement ‘Print your name as you would wish it to appear.’

The last forwarded flight details he sent me were:

SIR LOVELY JEFFREY FORREST —- 12J

MS GRUMPY JUDITH FORREST —- 12K

I asked if it was really wise to ticket himself and my mother like that, and he replied, as if it were out of his hands:

‘Under the new homeland security rules the ticketed names must be a combination of how they are printed in your passport and your likely appearance at check-in.’

It’s strange, but you want to like them. You want them to be your friend. And I think these two factors are really key in writing likeable characters. It’s strange, because most characters in most books, I think, aren’t weird. I’ve never thought about making my characters weird before, but I think you really need to to make them come alive.

It reminds me of a comment on 43 Folders:

Good blogs are weird. Blogs make fart noises and occasionally vex readers with the degree to which the blogger’s obsession will inevitably diverge from the reader’s. If this isn’t happening every few weeks, the blogger is either bored, half-assing, or taking new medication.

Good blogs are probably like good characters.

One of the nice things about Your Voice in My Head is that it’s so easy to read your race through it. I was trying to figure out if this was because it was easy reading or because it was short. A word count reveals it’s about 48,000 words, so it looks like it’s just quite short. It has quite a strange pacing to it as well – a lot of the time it just zips over events, which I think adds to the ease of reading.

While it might be short, I think there’s a lot to learn from it. Occasionally, I think a few sentences are sloppy and could be reworded, but generally, it’s as easy to read as Nick Hornby (another of my top half a dozen writers).

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