We would like to ban characters in works of fiction from thinking, feeling and knowing. Okay, novel denizens may occasionally think or feel but they should never, ever know anything. Here is a passage that illustrates this point:
Crystal was feeling apprehensive about the meeting with Grayson. She understood she had broken the rules and that that would mean certain punishment. Grayson was capable of a slap on the wrist, but she knew the little man with the beard had a temper and that her life was in real danger.
Filled with a feeling of panic, she distractedly filled the basket and half dragged it down to the basement where she knew the machine was waiting. “This is your fault, George,” she said to her white Persian cat, who, she saw, had followed her down the stairs. If it weren’t for George’s shedding she thought that she could have avoided the task at hand. She knew the time would be better spent figuring out how to deal with Grayson. Instead, she had to focus on upending the basket and sorting the darks from the whites.
She thought at least she would face her fate in clean clothes.
In this passage – which is for illustrative purposes only and makes no claim to literature – the feeling, thinking and knowing just muck things up and drag the action down. For starters, the reader does not need to be told that C is feeling apprehensive. Her life is in danger, what else would she be feeling? Nor does she need to understand, think or know at any place in the passage. That is because this passage is from Cyrstal’s point of view. Everything in it is what she knows or thinks or feels so everytime the writer tells that she is thinking, feeling or knowing, it is unnecessary, dead wood.
Here is the same passage after editing:
Crystal had broken the rules. It meant certain punishment. Grayson was capable of a slap on the wrist, but the little man with the beard had a temper. Her life was in real danger.
She distractedly filled the basket and half dragged it down to the basement. “This is your fault, George,” she muttered to her white Persian cat who tagged along behind. If it weren’t for George’s shedding she might have avoided the task at hand. She could have used the time to figure out how to deal with Grayson. Instead, she upended the basket and began to sort darks from whites.
She would face her fate in clean clothes.
Still not literature, but we hope you see the difference. When characters feel, think or know, it gets between the reader and the story.