Do You Like First-Person Narration?

Yes or no?

Personally: yes.

And no.

Well, which is it?

This isn’t an attempt to be non-committal in my answer.  Rather, I find there are certain circumstances where I love it and all the intimacy and insight it offers into the narrator’s character, and other times where it leaves me cold.

It goes without saying that stories in first-person are told by I – from the point of view of the narrator (who is typically also the protagonist), and likewise told in the narrator’s voice.  As a style of telling a story, it can be found in any genre, but is particularly common in YA, chick lit, memoir, and occasionally historical and romance.

It’s popularity among those who like it seems to be due to the extreme closeness it allows to develop between narrator and reader.

Such ready access to the narrator’s thoughts and observations can be incredibly instructive to the reader in understanding what this person is all about.  So instructive, in fact, that the reader may come to feel like s/he is the narrator, vicariously living every joy and pain that befalls the narrator as his/her their own.  The constant appearance of the word “I” – of the reader hearing it echo over and over within his/her thoughts – can further contribute to this.

What I described above is not the case for me, though.

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What’s Good About Twilight: Observations from a non-Twihard with a head-cold

Every time I get really sick, I end up watching something I otherwise would have avoided.

This tendency is born of a desire for easily-digestible entertainment in my physically diminished state.

Last time I was sick, I watched the entire first season of the cartoon Transformers: Prime (and later went follow the show obsessively to its conclusion two seasons later, but that’s a topic for another blog post).

This time, it was the last three movies of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga that I’d yet to see: Eclipse, Breaking Dawn pt. 1, and Breaking Dawn pt. 2.

I’d previously watched the first two films – Twilight and New Moon – years ago at the behest of Twihard friends, and swore I’d never watch another.  After all, there was just so much to dislike:

  • Edward’s behaviour toward Bella was stalker-ish and controlling
  • Bella, as a character, was dull as a spoon, possessing no interesting qualities nor being an active (as opposed to passive) participant in her own story
  • Edward was way too old to be in a romantic relationship with Bella
  • Neither Bella’s mother nor Edward’s had jobs (unlike both of their fathers)
  • As a whole, the story glamourized unhealthy romance for its target audience of impressionable young girls.

And yet….

Maybe it was the Advil Cold + Sinus at play, but as I watched the final three movies, I found they weren’t all bad.  Indeed, there were a number of elements of the Twilight Saga that found quite enjoyable, both as a consumer of stories and a creator of them:

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Writing While On Vacation: A (Semi-Humorous) How-To

 So, my attempt to maintain my writing schedule while on vacation didn’t go so well.

This isn’t to say I did absolute NO writing.  For I did; I wrote five times.  In three weeks.

But two of those times were while on airplanes – that’s a huge step outside of my normal creative environment and my comfort zone.  I even wrote a sex scene while on a plane.  While sitting in the aisle seat no less.  That’s got to count for something!

Right?

It’s not the end of the world that I barely wrote while away.  It’s not like a wagered money on it or anything.

(Maybe I should have wagered money on it; maybe that would have been just the motivator I needed, for I despise spending money needlessly.)

I even learned a few useful tips to follow the next time I go away for an extended period of time.

And so, for those who were duped by my original Writing While On Vacation post, searching in vain for advice from someone who hadn’t a sweet clue how to do so herself, I now offer you the benefit of my newly-acquired wisdom:

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Why Writers Should Spend Time With Other Types of Artists

Sun by Dawn Banning

We writers – when we discuss our work and our process at all – tend to restrict said discussion to other writers.

After all, who else could possibly understand our unique brand of crazy?  How can anyone genuinely comprehend, for example, the compulsion to sit up in the dead of the night and scribble down a story idea unless s/he too has endured the utter frustration of greeting the morning with forgotten inspiration?

Artists of other disciplines (e.g. painters, musicians, actors, etc.), while themselves not fully cognizant of what it means to be a narrative writer, might come pretty darn close to understanding us.

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The Last Five Days & The First Five Things That Fill Them

Today marks my final full week of summer holiday.

Due to a combination of me hoarding my vacation days throughout the year, overtime rolled over from last year, and the fact that my vacation both began and will end with a long weekend, I’ve been able to take off most of the month of August.

I had good intentions to try to maintain my writing schedule over the course of my travels, but – well, we all know what they say about good intentions.

I’ll discuss what I was busy doing while I should have been writing in a future post.  In the meantime, with eight days remaining until I return to work, I’m thinking ahead to three days from now – to the last five days of my vacation, when I leave Ontario and go back home to Vancouver.

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Writing While On Vacation

If you came here looking for advice on how to do as the title indicates, I’m sorry to disappoint.

I don’t know how to do it either.

Indeed, not once in at least the last three years I’ve been writing have I successfully maintained my writing schedule while on holiday.

I’ve tried.

In the beginning, my efforts used to be quite fervent.  More recently, I’ve not even bothered to make the attempt, instead consciously choosing to take a short break from writing and resume my regular schedule upon returning home.

That won’t work this time.

Because I’m on holiday for the entire month of August.

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Adventures in Reading: Soldiers of Misfortune

Every reader has a T(o) B(e) R(ead) pile; sometimes a TBR pile that’s years in the making.

I’m no exception in this regard.  To wit, I’ve been meaning to read the fantasy novel In the Eye of Heaven since its publication in 2007.  Back then, fantasy was my genre of choice, and this book was blurbed by my favourite fantasy author, Jacqueline Carey.

As well, the book’s author – David Keck – is a fellow Canadian and was a debut author in the genre in which I’d hoped to someday be published.

I finally read this book this past May.  It’s success in summiting my eight-years-long TBR pile has a lot to do with its subject matter, as well as my assertion in a previous post that sometimes research for one’s own novel is conducted via fictional sources.

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Who’s Gonna Read Your Book II: On genre conventions / unconventional genres

One of the most important and oft-cited tenets of marketing is to identify your target audience.

When it comes to books, an easy was to start doing this is through identifying your novel’s genre, thereby making your target audience the readers of said genre.

Many writers descry genre.  I’ve hear it stated that genre conventions impose limits to creativity and the possibilities a writer can introduce into a story.

Some also claim that genre is a means by which the traditional publishing industry pigeonholes the market by only publishing stories adhering to this or the other trend, which ultimately comes to define various genres as a whole (e.g. the dystopian trend in YA).

Yet, whether one agrees with the above statements or not, genre is the means by which readers have been trained to locate books within the publishing landscape.  Whether a book is traditionally published or self-published, it’s the GPS that helps lead readers to the promised land of similar content and fulfilled expectations.

According to bestselling sci-fi author Hugh Howey,

[W]riting within a genre is a huge first step in becoming discovered. No one is looking for you or your particular book. You are both unknown unknowns. So you better write a book that’s near a specific book….  Random fantasy books sell better than random randomness.

But what happens when your book doesn’t quite fulfill those expectations?  What happens when it meets some of the conventions of its genre, yet blithely disregards others?

What happens if your book is like my book?

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Taking Over Me: On writing, obsession, and the search for artistic balance

Singer Amy Lee of the alternative rock/metal band Evanescence, from whose song the title for this week’s post is borrowed.  There’s something about the grammatical weirdness of the song’s name – the fact that, in ending with the subject “me”, it serves to emphasizes it – that really resonates with my experiences in this subject.

Amy Lee of the alt rock/metal band Evanescence, whose song I borrowed for the title of this post.

When a writer becomes utterly fixated on his/her WIP, is that a sign of artistic revelation or that s/he has become a less well-rounded person?

I’ve twice had it happen where writing has taken over my life, the first time being back in 2004 when I was writing my first (incomplete, shelved) novel, and the second in 2005 when I wrote the first volume of my two-volume historical fiction WIP.

In 2005 especially, I fully gave myself over to my writing.

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