Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm trying to be back

Have you given up on me yet? I don't blame you. I've almost given up on myself. Heaven help me, this summer has been a difficult one. I'm still in the nausea zone, but definitely functioning at a higher level. I'm almost 16 weeks along in my pregnancy, which is generally the cutoff point, so I'm crossing my fingers that by this time next week I'll be in the clear.

So I haven't been doing much. Not even writing because I'm just not feeling it. But I have been reading... a lot. I had the opportunity of reading a book by a relative of my husbands. It's her first published novel and it was cool to see her last name on the spine (since it is also my last name). She has been a High School English teacher for many years.

While I generally enjoyed the book, she committed what, to me, has always been a fiction writing faux pas. I was surprised when she skipped from one point of view to another willy nilly. I was always taught that if you are going to change point of view there needs to be, at the very least, a break in the text and works most effectively at chapter breaks. I'll give you an example. This is just me making something up, but it represents the kind of things I read in her book.

"Susan watched Bob from afar as he blew the hair from his eyes with a crooked smile. She knew he couldn't possibly be interested in her, but hadn't he been making eye contact with her all evening? His gaze met hers once more and she immediately looked away, feeling her cheeks flush. Her hands flew to her mouth, then retracted as she consciously kept herself from chewing her nails. He was definitely looking at her. She knew his reputation, but couldn't help the fact that his blue eyes made her heart race. Why would he possibly be paying any attention to her? Bob knew that he was making this girl flustered and he enjoyed it. He'd been eyeing her secretly for weeks. His friends would never let him live it down if they knew how much he dug her. What they couldn't know was that he had more in mind than just romance."

That was just some nonsense I just spewed, but it illustrates what I'm talking about.

So, what do you think? Are there hard set rules that really should never be broken in fiction, or does artistic license trump all?


Anonymous said...

Jumping POV is a definitely considered an amateurish trait. And would probably get you knocked out of the box. It usually goes along with telling rather than showing.

But then again, it was published.

Can you break the rules? I'm sure you can, provided that you are doing so knowingly and have the standing to do it. The problem with that particular "rule" is that when it happens, the person usually has no clue what they've done.

Was it a traditional publisher, or print-on-demand or something like that?

Anonymous said...

And sorry your summer has been so hard.

Beth said...

It's good to see you posting again.

Well, let me see, the rules of writing. I've read a LOT of writing I detested (a lot in contests) where people were so hellbent on the rules that they forgot to actually just write. I hate when people are technical.

However, there are certain things I don't like -- jumping POV's, that's not for me unless you have a break to show it. Not just chapter even, but even just lines between the paragraphs or something.

I read a book where they did this all the time, jumped POV's and it was incredible, BUT the author highlighted it every time it was done. I think it was the Poisonwood Bible.

Anyhow, I believe in just writing to write and then if you get rejected for years, give it up.

Sarah Hina said...

I hope you're getting stronger daily, Hoodie, and that the second trimester is good to you. Glad you've had the chance to enjoy some reading. That's never wasted time for a writer.

I do think it's confusing for a reader to bounce around from one POV to another. But I've certainly read books where it is done.

Minx said...

There are no rules. Some of our gretest writers have committed this 'sin' and the answer to your question is very simple. Did it work for you?

wordtryst said...

Hoodie, just popped by to let you know there's a launch party going on at my blog and you're invited!

SzélsőFa said...

This text did not work for me at all. I understood it, it's not that. But this shift of POV seemed so amateurish it blew my mind off the track.
It did not work for me.
If I had the chance to peek into a book and found these types of mistakes, I would definitely NOT buy it.

I think published authors do commit those so-called crimes and minx was right.