Bound A-Z: I is for… “I”

I

Go on any writing forum, whether it be a big one like KBoards or a little Facebook genre writers’ group, and you’ll see the question:

“First or third-person point of view. Which is better?”

I can tell you exactly how the responses play out, too: Someone will state that they flat-out refuse to read anything written in first person (and may admit in a later comment that it can be done well, but usually isn’t). Someone else will say that they really prefer to read stories in first person, but third is okay if we’re deep in one character’s viewpoint. Someone will say either is fine as long as it’s done well. Someone else will insist that omniscient POV is the best, but they’re the only person who knows how to do it right, so back off, NOOBS. Another person will say first person POV is cool and all, but it’s just so damned limiting to be stuck in one character’s head for a whole book.*

And then I jump in and I’m like, “You know you don’t have to stick with one…”

It’s a tough question for a writer, and an important one.

For anyone not familiar with the terminology, POV (or point of view) is how the story is told. First person is an “I” story–a character is telling is what happened to him/her, or what is happening in the case of a present-tense story. Third person is the writer or narrator telling us about the characters and what’s happening to them. He said this, Kelly said that, Marcus gesticulated wildly.

Dammit Marcus, stop being dramatic.

Third person POV might be “deep third”, where we’re anchored in one character’s thoughts and experiences, seeing the world through their eyes, even hearing their thoughts. We can’t see what other characters are thinking, or what’s happening in the next room. At the other end of the spectrum is omniscient third person, in which we can see everyone’s thoughts and know anything that’s going on.

As a reader, I dislike omniscient, or anything that involves jumping from character to character with nothing more than a paragraph break. I’ve seen it done well, it’s just not my preference.

And that right there? That last sentence? That’s how a lot of people feel about first person POV, which is what I chose to use in the Bound trilogy.

I’m not here to defend that choice, as I don’t think it requires defending. I just thought it might be interesting to look at why the heck I’d do a thing like that when some people refuse to buy if the Amazon “Look Inside” pages feature the dreaded “I”.

1) I write the stories I want to read, and I prefer reading first-person POV stories. I love how clearly character voice can come out. Yes, this is possible in very deep third-person POV, but I still feel a sense of distance from the story in that format. That’s not to say I don’t love me some third-person POV books. I do. But there’s something incredible about being right there with the character, hearing their tale straight from their lips and minds, that I’ve yet to find elsewhere.

2) It doesn’t have to be limiting, especially if you use more than one character’s point of view. Bound features what’s called “dual POV.” Torn has three characters. This gives us the opportunity to not only see the world through multiple sets of eyes (and therefore not be trapped in one place), but it changes the way we see our POV characters. The first draft of Bound was almost entirely told from Rowan’s POV. Readers’ view of her changed when we had a chance to see her as Aren did, and his character changed and deepened when I climbed into his head.

3) It’s fun. Writing in first person, and especially in multiple first, brings challenges. Characters have to have different voices as they tell their story, even more in first person than in limited third. They’ll use different words, different idioms if they’re not from the same place. Two characters will look at an autumn forest and see two completely different things. One might be flooded with emotions while another barely registers them. A thief’s daughter from the back alleys of Luid won’t think the same way as a princess, even in sections of text that seem on the surface to be narration.

4) It’s how the story wanted to be told, how it naturally started when I finally got over my stupid nerves and started writing. I tried it in third person, and it didn’t have the same feel. It felt flat and distant, and that was the last thing I wanted. Other stories have worked well as third-person tales in the past, but Rowan most definitely wanted this one told in her own words. Aren was a little more reluctant, but he came around.

I guess the take-away from this is a piece of advice to writers. Wait… I hate giving advice. Okay, it’s a bit of experience that I want to share in case it helps you.

The reason I tried writing Bound in third person that one time was because I heard it would sell better.

Had I chosen to follow that advice, to make my story bend to what someone else wanted, I would have ended up with a book I didn’t like. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have finished writing it.

There are times when it makes sense to take advice, like when it comes from your agent, or an editor who has bought your book (or who you’re paying to make it bleed red).

And there are times when you have to go your own way and write the story that’s in your heart, bring your vision into the world in a way that only you can.

 

Tell Me: …no, I don’t want to start the “first vs third” debate here, because the truth is that there is no right or wrong answer. What I want to know is this: what’s the strangest perspective, point of view, or method of getting a story across that you’ve encountered. Epistolary storytelling? Strange framing of a story within a story? Second-person *shudder*?

*The other objection people frequently have to first-person narration is that it decreases tension because you know the narrator lived to tell the tale. I would respectfully argue that multiple first-person POV alleviates this, as well… as long as there’s one person left to finish the story, anyone could die. OR BE A GHOST nope that’s a bad idea. Bad Kate.

 


Some Incredibly Exciting News!

Kate Sparkes:

Hey, guys! Celine Jeanjean has been a huge supporter of my work from the beginning, and it’s my pleasure to share the love. She’s looking for a few readers who might be interested in reading and reviewing her new book, which is available now for pre-order. If it looks like something you might be interested in, let her know! Early reviews are critical for new books, and hey, free books! Win-win. :)

Originally posted on Celine Jeanjean's Blog: Down the Rabbit Hole:

My book, The Viper and the Urchin is finished! It is now a Thing That Exists, and that Thing (or rather the ebook copy for now) is available for pre-order on Amazon at the very bargain pre-launch price of $0.99. It will be properly out in the world late July. To say that I’m excited is an understatement of epic proportion, and likewise about being nervous.

D’you want to see the cover? Here it is in all its full-sized glory:
assassin_fullWhat do you think, do you like it? It’s by Ravven, and I’m so pleased with it! And not just because of my very childish excitement at seeing my name on the cover.

The story’s steampunk but set in a world of my creation — the tropical city of Damsport. There’s a bit of mystery and humour thrown in there for good measure too. Here’s the blurb:

The Viper and…

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H is for Heartleaf

Story ideas come from some weird places.

The inspiration for Bound came from two places: the first was a desire for a story that started with a decidedly non-badass girl saving a hero’s life… an idea that I quickly rejected in favour of her saving a villain’s life, because that’s far more interesting to me. And hey, I write what I want to read.

The other was my headaches.

I get a lot of them. My husband would call that the understatement of the century. All told, I’m insanely grateful if I get through a full day without any kind of pain. Most of the time it’s pain that’s very manageable with drugs, coffee, cold packs, and more drugs. I get through the day, I get my work done, the house doesn’t end up a complete disaster area.

Then there are the headaches that send me to bed because the light and noise of daily life are too much.

It’s not always the same kind of pain. Sometimes it’s a feeling like nausea, but in my skull. Sometimes it’s ice-picks stabbing at my eyes or my temples. Sometimes it feels like someone whacked me with a 2×4 on the back of the head, and sometimes it’s a seething, creeping, crawling pain that oozes around like a tiny monster trapped under the bones of my head.

It’s quite pleasant.

Wait… no. No, it sucks.

But the thing is, something good came of it. Something great, I think. I found a story. As I lay in bed with these monster headaches, or when my head was clear but I was too exhausted to do much else, I started to wonder what it would be like if there was a reason for the pain.

What if it had something to do with magic? What if it somehow hurt someone, made her feel pain like I felt?

What if it led to great adventure? To love, to self-discovery, to danger and wonder and a huge, wide world of possibility?

Well, my own headaches didn’t lead to any of that, but they did lead to me puzzling out a story that’s become a favourite of more people than I ever could have imagined.

Now, to work our way around to today’s topic…

In Bound, Rowan experiences headaches much like mine. At the beginning, she has no idea what’s causing them. No one does (which, it turns out, is probably a good thing for her). Doctors have been no help. The only relief Rowan can find from her pain is heartleaf tea, made from the inner bark of a tree that grows wild throughout Serath. The sweet-smelling, bitter-tasting tea keeps the pain at bay, at least for a while, and she’s learned to ask for nothing more than that.

Too bad for her when it becomes illegal to grow or possess it because of suspicions that it’s a magical substance.

For the record, I didn’t intend to make any statements about controlled substances there. Maybe I did… but I didn’t mean to.

Here’s a picture from my notes of the leaves that give the heartleaf tree its name.

IMG_1207
Okay, so it looks a little like a tongue in my drawing… it’s way prettier in real life, I swear.

Tell me: When have you found inspiration in an unexpected place? What was the outcome?

 


Are Amazon *Really* Paying Authors Per Page Read? No. No, They’re Not. [Pause] Well…

Kate Sparkes:

Reblogging for author types who may be confused, or for anyone who sees click-bait headlines trying to freak people out. Authors are still getting paid the same amount as we were before for every book you purchase on Amazon. We still set our prices and get the same share. Amazon’s new payment system only affects borrows through Kindle Unlimited, and it now pays more for gripping, high-quality, and longer books than it does for short stories and books people don’t want to finish. I consider this a positive change, even if it means some of us need to make adjustments in our plans or marketing tactics. This post is a great explanation if you’re looking for one.

Originally posted on CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD:

I understand how the internet works. I know what click bait is. If I click on a headline like She Used a Pen To Open an Envelope. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next… or His Dog Pooped In His Shoe and the Shoe’s Reaction was PERFECT, I agree that I’ve no one to blame but myself. But headlines about Amazon paying self-published authors per page read has my blood pressure spiking.

They’re inaccurate because they’re out of context. The truth is buried in the posts themselves no sooner than five or six paragraphs down, but people don’t seem to be reading that far based on the tweets I’ve seen in my stream. And as for people outside the self-publishing world – well, they seem to be missing the whole point of it altogether.

Now, it’s been a while since I wrote a nuts-and-bolts post about a self-publishing thing but [rolls up shirtsleeves, takes…

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One Year Celebration (and giveaway!)

EDIT: Giveaway now closed. Thanks still apply.

It’s been quiet around here, hasn’t it? On the blog, I mean. Around HERE here, in my real life? Not so much.

But we’ll have time for news and project updates another day. Today we’re here to celebrate the fact that one year ago today, Bound became A Thing People Could Read.

First book of a trilogy.

First book for me.

First time in a long time that I had stepped so far out of my comfort zone that the stress made me physically ill, and the first time I’d ever chased a dream that hard.

It was also the first time I’d ever taken a risk that big and invested so much in what I suspected would amount to a whole lot of “well, at least a few people read it” and “I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t try, right?” and “It was a great learning experience.”

All of those things are true, but this year has gone SO much better than I ever expected.

Why?

Because of you guys.

Because of people who read my blog and commented on snippets that I posted on WIPpet Wednesdays, kind folks who commented on the first chapter when I posted it, and bloggers who helped out with the cover reveal and release-week posts. Because of writer friends who got me through tough moments, who let me vent about frustrations, and who were there to celebrate the victories and setbacks I didn’t want to talk about in public.

Most of all, it’s because of the people who read the book. Those who bought it when it was new and untested, or when they decided to take a chance on an unfamiliar author. Those who loved it, who recommended it to friends and family, who suggested Bound to their wine-drinking book clubs, who wrote reviews,who shared the book on their blogs and requested it at their local libraries, those who tweeted about it, who mentioned it on “what are you reading” and “who are your book crush” facebook posts…

I wish I could give every one of you a medal and a hug.

See, I wrote a book that I loved and I thought a few other people might enjoy, and I did what I could to make it the best it could be.

That’s about it. The rest of it, the rankings and the reviews and the recommendations? That was all you guys.

Pretty amazing.

It’s my job to make words work for me, to get them to express what I’m thinking, imagining, or feeling, but I continue to be at a complete loss when it comes to trying to thank you guys. It’s too much.

Thanks for making this author’s maiden voyage such an incredible adventure.

*sniffle*

Okay, enough sappy stuff. Who wants free crap?

I mean… a book? WHO WANTS A BOOK?

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This is a celebration, so let’s make the prize a good one. Let’s see what we’ve got here… How about a signed copy of the book of your choice (Bound or Torn), or a CD copy of the Bound audiobook? And let’s throw in some extra goodies. Some sea glass and a mermaid charm (my apologies for the fact that she has a fish tail… mammalian merfolk merchandise is hard to come by, and also a bit of a tongue twister). A couple of cover cards that you can use as bookmarks, or as posters for your Barbie Dream House (not judging), or whatever else floats your boat. Also, the last postcard I’ve got here. YAY!

Enter here, through rafflecopter.

To claim your blog post entry, comment below and tell me who your favourite character in the Bound trilogy is (so far) and why. If you’re just joining us and haven’t read the books, no problem! Tell me your favourite species of Fantasy creature, and don’t forget to claim your rafflecopter entry!

And please share! I’d love to see everyone who might be interested get a chance to enter this giveaway. You can tweet for an entry, or share this post on other social media platforms by clicking the wee buttons below.

Thanks again, guys.

I can’t wait for you to see what comes next.


G is for Griselda…and Going Places

G

Griselda Beaumage is a teacher at Ernis Albion’s school on Belleisle.

As we know from Torn, she’s a powerful Sorceress–an omnilinguist and an illusionist, to be precise, though she has other skills that Rowan knows nothing about. She’s tall and intimidating, and fiercely intelligent. She’s a bit of a hero for Rowan, who hasn’t really had a Sorceress to look up to. Sure, there are a few other female students at the school, but a true Sorceress is a rarity, and Griselda has had a lot longer than those students have to hone her skills.

She’s an adventurer, and has been spending significant time in Luid as the guest of the Tiernal family and as an ambassador.

She’s more than that, though.

Griselda is a scholar of magic. She’s far older than she appears (one of the benefits of strong magic), and has spent decades exploring the world outside of Serath. Her gifts with languages have allowed her to travel as she pleases, communicating with people and intelligent species the world over. She spent years among centaurs–previously a misunderstood and nearly legendary group, as far as her people were concerned. She has loved, and she has lost far more than she will ever let on in front of her students.

She’s also a character whose history I’d love to dig deeper into some day. She’s not the only one. If I were to write every story I wanted to that branched off from the Bound trilogy, I’d be looking at…

*counts on fingers*

*takes off socks, counts on toes*

A hell of a lot of work ahead of me. I’d love to follow the merfolk to their world, to explore new lands with Griselda, to seek out the Aeyer and witness their clan wars. A dragon’s story would be a challenge, but an interesting one.

And then there are the two trilogies I’m actually planning to set in this world, one historical and one set in the near future.

There was a time when I worried I’d run out of stories to tell. That was before I met my characters and realized that each one of them is the key to a door that opens up new lands, new worlds, and new adventures.

Have I mentioned that I love my job?


The Cadis Trilogy: BLOODLORE Released!

Kate Sparkes:

A few days late (oops!), but here’s the release announcement for the first book in Krista Walsh’s Cadis Trilogy, which we did the cover reveal for here a while back. Ebook is on sale for 99 cents! I read this one before publication. It’s a great read if you’re into adventure and intrigue, and if you love a salty-mouthed heroine as much as I do. Many of you are familiar with Krista’s work (and Venn) from the Meratis trilogy, and this is a good place to either jump in or continue the story. First chapter reveal included if you click through!

Originally posted on The Raven's Quill:

It’s Monday morning! I know Mondays are not usually looked at with pleasure and excitement, but hopefully Venn can at least add a few chuckles to your otherwise Monday-like Monday. That’s right – BLOODLORE is now available at a limited-time sale price of $0.99! The Kindle and Kobo links are up now, with B&N and print copies coming shortly – Nook and paperback readers, you have not been forgotten!

This book now has an extra special place in my heart. On Saturday, June 13, 2015, my grandmother passed away after a battle with cancer. She was always one of my greatest supporters, right to the end, she telling anyone who would listen how proud she was of her published granddaughter. So although it’s not written in the book itself, BLOODLORE is dedicated to my nan, Eulalie Mallette. She liked Venn’s feistiness and sharp wit, so I think she’d be tickled pink…

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