Monday, June 29, 2009

Here we go again!

If I heard it once, I've heard two things about the trilogy a million times.

One is: Please don’t take this personally Nadine – I still prefer third person past tense. That’s just me.

No it isn't 'just you'. Lot's of people feel that way. It’s what everyone is used to because that is what the industry produces. Humans like the familiar over the unfamiliar.

Third person POV is the mainstay of the industry. Why? Because it is easier to write in third person. Get stuck? Easy, just have another character 'think' the answer or drop it in through the narration so the reader knows long before the main character (MC). That way when the ends aren't tied up very good and the MC figures out something too easily, the reader doesn't question it.

It is less risky to get submerged into the story line when it is a bit removed, as in third person, less discomfort for the reader. Some will also argue that they can get into the characters better in third person. I offer again, that is because that is what readers have been exposed to all their reading life. It’s safe. The reader can stay one step removed from emotional involvement with the third person voice.

But that isn't real, you can't know someone by only observing them and being told by someone else who that person is. You can't know people intimately by another person's view of that person. It is only an opinion. You know a person by what you experience of them, and in writing, you can know them more completely by seeing the story through 'their eyes'.

Kathryn's Beach started out as third person, past tense. It was too detached emotionally to do what I wanted to do with the character. If you read the books, you know the action is not enough to carry the story. What keeps a person reading is seeing life through Kathryn's eyes.

Third person is actually a more elementary style, easier to write than first person. (Boy that statement should get people writing comments! Whew!) Third person is safer to write: 1) it is what 'everyone' does; 2) easier for the reader to know things the MC doesn't know, so easier to write - requiring less literary devices (and actual writing ability).

When the plane went down in KB, I (Nadine) wanted to show what was going on at Karen's house. Can't do it in first person POV. I had to make Karen come over to Kathryn's house and use dialogue. Which, in the end, was more powerful for them to share the moment than to do it individually in two locations, bouncing the reader back and forth across town.

Second thing I get all the time: I could feel there was a lot of YOU in there!! (even though I don’t know you that well).

Everyone says that because it is first person. I try not to say publicly anything less than complimentary about Kathryn. If Kathryn was real, I'd probably like her, but she would also get on my nerves. There are a lot of things I don't like about her. I don't think we would be close friends, not BFF.

Storm Surge said a lot more than the other two books. It was more dramatic and better for it. You need more of that.

Storm Surge is a richer book because it is the third in the story of Kathryn's growth. It was hard to keep Kathryn 'broken' and move the story in KB. I kept wanting to write her stronger, but then lots of the story would not happen if she was a stronger person. If someone is a 'recluse' then they have to be written with a narrow view rather than global view (people-wise, not geography). As she begins to heal/grow in HT, the secondary characters can come out of the shadows. Then in SS she is kicked back to her insecure self, but shakes it off faster than she would have if all that had happened to her in KB.

It is a matter of writing style. This stuff is bound to happen when a writer writes outside the norm. I bet people think I'm Victoria in Red Planet Revolt, and I guarantee that I am not from the future.


  1. I like this post Nadine - you challenge peoples' perceptions and acceptance of the 'norm'. I write in 3rd person and sometimes in 1st, have to say I am more comfortable in 3rd simply because I am more practiced. But I agree, 1st person can really add different dimensions to how you tell a story.

  2. Thanks, Carrie,

    I'm on a bit of a soap box here.

    It was suggested the trilogy be rewritten in third person. That is so NOT practical at this point. New cover art, new ISBN, and months and months of rewrites and new edits - I just couldn't do it even if I wanted to, and I don't want my life's work to be five million versions of those three books. Time to move on with new stories.

    Fine if someone doesn't like the books. No problem with that. But jeepers, what a comment to make to a writer. Sigh. Guess that is the price of me encouraging comments.

  3. To everyone:

    BTW, comment anything you want. I'm a big girl.

    Hate my books. Fine. At least they made you think about what you hate about them. Hopefully even that inspires someone to write the next Great American Novel.

    Love them? Great!

    If we can't be honest with each other, we ain't got much of a thing going. Speak your mind, you know I will.