Tag Archives: serious writing

It’s All About Perspective … Or Is It?

29 Jan

Announcement one: I did an interview with The Modest Verge. Not only was it exciting, it was also fun and informative. You can find out if I kill bugs or set them free, what I would be if I weren’t human, and – of course – I’ve dropped yet another hint about what Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy) will entail. So check it out here, and follow them on Twitter @themodestverge.

Second: if you follow My Facebook Author Page (I’m only 6 away from 2,000 – please “like” me without judging me on how desperate that just sounded. haha) then you’ve already seen this article by the fantastic Nathan Bransford: Wait. A first person narrative isn’t serious???

That’s what I want to elaborate on today.

I recommend you read what he had to say first (as well as the commentary) but I’ll pretend the link doesn’t work by quoting the line that summed up his rant, “Apparently there are literary agents and professors and all kinds of ostensibly rational people out there who think first person narratives are somehow unserious.” After that, he shares a list of fantastic novels – some of which are on my top 10 favorites list (like The Stranger and Never Let Me Go.) – proving how first-person narrative can, in fact, be serious writing. (On a side note, I don’t like the term “serious writing,” which you can read about here.) But I think that was also Nathan Bransford’s point. Who gets to judge what constitutes serious writing? Isn’t that up to the reader? But I wanted to talk about a few things you should consider when choosing a perspective:

I thought this was a good picture for “perspective.” Bogart likes art as much as me, but his kitty perspective is probably different than mine.

I thought this was a good picture for “perspective.” Bogart likes art as much as me, but his kitty perspective is probably different than mine.

1. Your Story – of course.

This is obvious, right? But I still want talk to about it. Depending on how you write a novel, you might know exactly what will happen in your plot the moment you sit down or you might not. This actually might be a problem to consider. If you don’t know where it is going, your perspective can be harder to choose. Analyze your plot and your characters – figure out who would best tell it, and remember: it might not be so obvious. (Think of The Book Thief’s narrator.)

2. Your audience

Although I try to avoid the stereotypical writing tips as the “right way to write” I think considering your audience is always important when starting a new piece. Doing basic research on what they are more likely to accept might help your novel and you out, but I am by no means encouraging you to change your novel based on what others say is “right.” If your research says you MUST do third-person, but you still feel like you should do first-person, I would say go with first-person. I’m a huge believer on following your gut and challenging the norm, but taking the time to consider your research seriously is always helpful and shouldn’t be completely disregarded. For instance, if you choose first in the situation above, be ready to explain to a publisher why your first-person perspective is worth it, special, and why readers will like it.

3. Your voice vs. your characters

For me, one of the hardest decisions I had to make was in a recent novel I wrote. The character demanded to tell the story in first-person, not to mention that she was the only one who wanted to tell the story. (Most of my stories are told in dual first-person perspectives, so it was unusual for my male protagonist to stay quiet.) Plus, there were events that happened when she wasn’t around, so I would lose them in the narrative (and I was really excited about writing them!) So I tried begging the male protagonist to also talk, but he refused. Then, I tried third-person, and she basically rolled her eyes at me and asked me why I was making her talk so funny. Ultimately, I knew I had to listen to her, and it worked out! So perspective can be chosen by someone other than you, too.

All in all, your perspective isn’t all up to you. (You are a huge part, of course) But your story, characters, and readers – in my opinion – can affect what the ultimate decision will be. Consider your perspective carefully, and if youre not sure, I would suggest writing the first three chapters in first and then doing the same in third. Ask yourself which one felt more comfortable, which one seemed right for the story, and hopefully the answers won’t contradict one another. If they do, try again by writing a few scenes in the middle of story. 

In the end, I don’t think your perspective is going to make or break your novel. Instead, I would concentrate on your writing – that will make or break it (hopefully, make it – because we’re positive over here.) As long as your writing to the best of your abilities, willing to grow, and moving forward, a perspective shouldn’t define you, and it shouldn’t stop you. It should guide you.

But that’s just my perspective on things.

~SAT

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“Serious” Writing

2 Nov

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I recently had a discussion with fellow writers about what constitutes “serious” writing or not. Personally, I think it comes down to the writer. I have plenty of stories written that I would not consider serious, but that’s because it isn’t serious to me. However, I understand when people discuss genres being “serious” or not, but I think that’s a different discussion completely.

Today, I’m focusing on why young-adult fiction (or any genre) is “serious” writing even if the topic is humorous or light reading.

Novels, no matter what genre they fall under, have more than just a story. There are motifs, themes, foreshadowing, symbolism, and aspects that many readers might not even catch the first time around. This is not to say a reader does not understand these things. Instead, I’m saying that there is a lot more to a novel than what it might seem at first, and I’m going to be using Minutes Before Sunset as my example. Minutes Before Sunset is a young-adult paranormal romance. By many standards, this may not be considered a “serious” genre, but, again, I’m talking about “serious” writing, not genres.

I’ll talk about why novels go beyond the story by use of symbolism, foreshadowing, themes, and an overall message. But, when I use Minutes Before Sunset, I will avoid spoilers by using only the opening scene, which is available online.)

Motifs/Themes:

Independence Day might seem like a holiday that simply worked with the story, but it was carefully thought-out. My characters lives are fated, and often, they do not feel like they own their own body, let alone their future. Having Independence Day as the opener is vital, but it’s also very important to realize this is Eric’s favorite holiday. This holiday represents freedom, independence, and a new future—everything that Eric Welborn does not have–but it also represents a huge theme and motif.

Symbolism:

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Returning to Independence Day: we see fireworks. We see Eric’s obsession with them. We see how a child sees them, as fascinating bursts of light among darkness. We hear Eric’s father call them “useless burst of fire.” This is a symbol. Minutes Before Sunset is based on the idea of Dark vs Light (except the roles are flipped: the dark is good, and the light is bad.) This tiny conversation is more than it seems. The fireworks, from Eric’s eyes, are hope, the only light in the dark life that he has. His father, however, sees all light as evil; hence why he calls the light useless. By showing this childhood perspective, we can see Eric’s naïve state, how he thinks before his life is tainted by fate. We see his relationship with the Dark and, ultimately, his father. We see why they will argue, even in the future. Eric, despite being born to the Dark, sees light as hope.

Other symbols in the first novel include the willow tree, Eric’s nightlight, and the car wrecks. Unfortunately, I can’t explain what they mean until after the trilogy is complete, but there was a plan. There is always a plan.

Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is hard to explain when I promised to stay in only the beginning of the novel, but I’m going to try my best with the assistance of Read to Write Stories. Michael Noll got it right when he discussed the first time Eric discusses the hill called “Willow Tree Mountain.” Noll talks about how this little bit sets up the setting to explain why the people are ignorant—because they choose to be. They accept what they want to. You can read his piece here. But it basically points out exactly how certain people will act and think later on in the book. But if you’re interested in what this scene foreshadows, I’ll give you a little hint: it’s coming in Seconds Before Sunrise.

As you can see, one scene can hold more than just the scene of the story. Many writers spend hours making sure each scene goes beyond a simple event that pushes the plot forward. Novels, at first, might not seem complicated, but it’s when you study each chapter, each character and symbol, that you realize how much planning, writing, and editing went into the creation.

Writing is more than randomly selected words scrawling across a paper. It’s symbolic. It has foreshadowing, themes, and many other aspects that allow readers to connect with the emotional repercussions of the story. It takes a lot of preparation, and, to me, the amount of dedication a writer has makes any genre “serious.”

~SAT

P.S. I’m looking for bloggers to help me spread my cover reveal on December 1. If you’re interested in hosting the cover reveal on your blog, you’ll also be entered into a raffle to win a pre-release ebook of Seconds Before Sunrise. Please comment below or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

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