Friday, July 05, 2013

Rules May Not Be Ignored, or Can They?

Ever since I became a serious writer at the age of 10, I learned the ever changing rules of writing. By the time I actually had pieces published, there was a prolifera of new rules to follow. Point of View is the one that trips me up most often in my writing and most likely the most important rule to not mess up on.

Let's Discuss:
* First-person point of view is in use when a character narrates the story with I-me-my-mine in his or her speech. The advantage of this point of view is that you get to hear the thoughts in the story through his or her eyes. However, remember that no narrator, like no human being, has complete self-knowledge.
* Second-person point of view, in which the author uses you and your, is rare.  The author almost makes the reader a participant.
*Third-person point of view is that of an outsider looking at the action. The writer may choose third-person omniscient, in which the thoughts of every character are open to the reader, or the reader enters only one character's mind, sometimes throughout the entire work. The main choice is between first and third. Only one of my books was written in first person, Passages.

This is not a lesson in writing. There are plenty of books and websites out there better at describing these for you than I can do here.

Months ago, as I was perusing Amazon for good summer books. One of my choices was The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan.  As each book arrived, I opened the box and then stacked it on my nightstand. This was the next in line to be read. Between the end of the school year and moving houses, I had forgotten what made me select this book.A few days ago I began reading The Sisterhood, and am nearly finished, having read to the wee hours of the morning in my bed, pillows piled high behind my head with the nightlight aglow.

Being an author, reading can be ruined for me because I am constantly catching errors in other's works and spotting areas that seem to not work for me. However, this was so interesting and well-written, I was over half way through The Sisterhood when I realized it was self pubbed by Amazon publishing. It shocked me! Why? Let me explain.

Immediately, I got out of bed and at three am went onto Amazon to see how this book was selling. What I spotted first was that there were well over 800 reviews. Now, even if the author had all her friends leave a review, surely she didn't know 800 people to ask. I know I don't. The book is in the 5,000 selling mark which is very good when you consider there are millions of books for sale on this website.

So kudos to Helen Bryan. And this isn't her first book either. Although the books seems perfect in the grammatical and historical sense to me, she messes up her point of view all the time. It took me well into the book to realize this because it was seamlessly done.

Normally when POV changes its marked by a new chapter or a break in the chapter. She did neither. It went from one person to the next to omnipresent, to historical information all in the same paragraph and sometimes in the same sentence. I wasn't confused either. I kept up. Head hopping is a definite literary 'no-no' these days  but she ignored the rules; made it work.

Will I begin writing with different POV all mingled together? No. I am sure my editor is thanking me as she reads this. But I am a rule follower and like to please the publishers I work with.

However, this book made me take another look at different author's styles and decide there might be more than one way something should be done. The important thing is to write a book that the reader cannot put down and this author has certainly done it.

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