In which the Nano site lets me down and thus word-count-widget-less…

Today’s wordcount: 1,380. Slightly under daily Nano average, but with 3880 words total I still have a little buffer and am happily ahead of the game. Started Seven with a flashback in which tiny Ares is introduced to the Shadows and I had quite a lot of fun with it. Figured out a way that makes it much easier to write in tiny Ares’ voice. Maybe last week’s session of my creative writing class was helpful here, because I finally realized what I was doing wrong and how to take care of some of my PoV problems. Writing from a child’s perspective is still a bitch, but it’s considerably easier now and actually started to be fun, yay.

Another thing I’m really happy with is managing to include more supporting cast interaction. Ares continues to ride his streak of personal denial and Orpheus simply cracks me up. He’s an awesome character and I like his air of mysteriousness or as Damian would put it: Who the fuck are you and what made you such a hardboiled old bastard?

So considering that I didn’t expect to get any writing done today due to deadlines for uni projects, I’m very pleased 🙂

Random ideas and why every writer should love them!

As you can guess by the title, I’ve had some fun plotting for Light. Or should I call it subplotting?

Be that as it may, it never ceases to amaze me how randomly I seem to get ideas for my writing. I suppose all of you have some sort of favorite place to muse and get ideas for your writing. For me that would probably be my bed or oddly enough the shower 😉 But then again it’s those random situations that I’m in and my mind just suddenly snaps, coming up with some random idea that I know I have got to write down, because heyyyy it’s briiiiiliant. 8)

And in the end, that’s all your plot comes down to: some random idea that you dwell on for quite a while, pieced together with other random ideas. The best part about it is that you always can add on to those ideas (which is what we’d call subplot). And sometimes this happens quite automatically by adding another character. I recently read an article on Nathan Bransford’s blog about character and plot being inseparable and I guess it’s pretty self-evident. Whenever you add a character to your story, this character comes with a background, a motivation, a relationship to other characters whether they are main characters or merely supportive cast.

I made that kind of experience by adding Damian as a second first person point of view, in other words, making him my second main character next to Ares. So since Ares’ plot was already laid out in the first draft of Shadows, Damian was involved as one of the main characters, but now that he has his own PoV he is contributing much more details and his own plot lines which make the overall story so much more complex. Let alone he helps to clear up some potentially confusing bits and pieces.

With that I’m off with a writerly squee of awesome to work some new ideas into upcoming chapters. This is when editing is fun 😀

The good old PoV dilemma…

…is seriously kicking my ass right now. Sorry for the French, but yes, it’s bad and maybe I’m just fretting too much about it, but currently my options are:

a) One First Person PoV (Ares) as I did in most of the first draft of Light, including minor dream sections in third person – I loved the ‘direct’ approach here and the fact that I can randomly throw in stray thoughts and inner monologue rather well ( There’s a good scene with Nymeron here )

b) Multiple Third Person PoVs (mainly Ares and Damian, including Raeyn in later books), as I did in Thirteen and Fourteen of the first draft as a multi-PoV experiment. I liked it, but got too many characters involved. I don’t want Light to suffer from character overload in the end, this only stretches out the plot with unnecessary details. Another thing I didn’t like here was the distance the third person PoV creates between reader and character. First person is so much more direct and immediate. (Temporarily ‘published’ Fourteen if you want to take a look at this approach here )

c) Two first person PoV’s (Ares and Damian) with distinct voices. This only leaves the problem with the dream sequences; should I mix in third person scenes or should I do them in first person clarifying that this is not directly happening to Ares/Damian? ( I played around with this here and quite liked it, actually. This is most likely the way I want to go, especially since I’m rather fond of Damian’s ‘voice’, but it leaves the problem with the Dreams as I commented below)

See my problem here, folks? I’d be grateful about some thoughts and linked you some chapters to be able to compare the different styles. I may tinker a bit with all three possibilities to decide which one works best in the end.

In Yoda speek: Meditate about this I must.

EDIT: Okay, as I look over this again, I must say that I think I’m pretty set on the first person approach. When it comes down to it, the only benefit of the third person PoVs is that I’d be able to include more characters, but then again I’d run the risk of stretching the plot out unnecessarily, while I actually liked the pacing in the end of the first draft with Ares’ PoV only really well. Adding Damian to the mix offers me the opportunity to tie-in some interesting tidbits, clarify some background, generally fill the novel with some more plot.

ERGO: yes, two first person PoVs is probably the way I’m going to go, but that leaves the problem of the dream sections: Should Ares’ dreams still be in third person or would that be too confusing, let alone an ultimate style-jumble. Should I write them in first person clarifying how he’s in relation to the character he ‘dreams’ about? Thoughts?

Multiple First-Person PoV’s – A No Go?

Here’s just something I was wondering about as I was pondering the pro’s and con’s of different PoV’s, trying to get myself out of my little PoV dilemma with Light.

Generally, third person allows for a more omniscient narrative as well as multiple PoVs, whereas first-person is strictly limited to one person and here again a limited point of view as, evidently, one single person can’t possibly know anything that is happening in a story. After all if first-person protagonist already knew about the motivations and plans of the other characters, where’s the point in the story, right?

Now, I ask, why is there such a problem with people saying “Heck No!” if you come up with the idea of using two first-person PoV’s instead?

First off, let’s get one thing straight: there apparently are a bunch of authors out there who used that method before and horrendously failed. Either that or their writing just plain sucked, whatever. I personally have only read one author who incorporated two first person characters in her books and in my humble opinion she did quite an amazing job with it and there are two reasons why

a) Both of her her characters have very different and very unique voices, you have two different characters who have insight in different aspects of her plot. Sure, there are scenes when those two characters interact (quite many, actually), but both characters still see the events differently and you aren’t told about the same event twice.

b) There’s just no way of confusing them. You just need to look at a section and can clearly say which character is talking at the moment, since sections are clearly marked with the respective character name on top of it, so you know exactly who is talking or seeing events happen around them.

Again, let me get this right; I’m not saying that this method is either good or bad per se. It just really depends on your take of it. Personally I just am having my problems with people telling me “Hey, don’t do it, because it doesn’t work.” Might be the rebel in me, but that somehow makes me want to try it even more.

So here are a couple of ideas that I want to work with for the second draft of Shadows. Right now this is a mere experiment. I might notice that this doesn’t work for me in a couple of chapters and then just scrap it. Right now just just sounds like a really cool idea and curious me wants to try it for the heck of it 😉

I think I got the point about distinct voices pretty much covered. This might be another aspect that was rather neglected in the first draft, but Damian’s language and general vocabulary is much more crude and coarse than Ares’. He’s the one who throws in the occasional French and he’s also the one with a more colorful vocabulary of swear words (this is going to be a fun one). Don’t get me wrong, Ares loves to go on the one or other cussing tirade too, but it just doesn’t happen to the same extend. In some way his ‘civil’ roots are showing in his language while Damian grew up with an abusive father and basically lived out his childhood on the streets.

As to the confusion part, I’m going to use the same method here, clearly titling the alternating PoV scenes with either “Ares” or “Damian”, so if you get lost you just need to go back a couple of pages at worst case. Honestly it shouldn’t be that much of a problem since you don’t just use “I” or “me/mine” in first person, but also refer to other characters by name.

Oh and before I forget it, since I only mentioned it as an aside in reference to Monette’s work; you definitely want to avoid repetitions. Don’t tell the same event from both PoV’s. It’s either one or the other, even – and even more so – if both characters experience it. Sure, you can use the character who hasn’t directly “told” us about the event from their eyes to reflect on it later, but it really shouldn’t be more than a side comment or two. You don’t want to read the same story twice after all.

It’s just one of those things I’ve been wondering about for quite a while since my friend Jen once suggested incorporating Damian as a second first person PoV quite a while back and I always was like “Nah, that doesn’t work.” Maybe I just had to read it “done right” to change my perspective there, but then again it’s certainly nothing that works for every book.

And I suppose that about sums it up. Are there any other points that you like/dislike about multiple first person PoV’s or first person PoV in general?

Another one of those “Damnit!”-moments

Maybe it’s just me and maybe I’m hopelessly easy to influence, but the more I’m reading Sarah Monette’s books, the more I’m thinking if maybe two alternate first person PoV’s might be the way to go to get myself out of my not-so-little PoV dilemma.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to write in first person, but somehow Ares’ PoV only doesn’t seem to encompass everything Light is about. I can’t help the feeling that I need Damian’s PoV in there, less in the beginning of Shadows, but more so in the end and for upcoming books. I need to tie his perspective, the street perspective, if you will, in there somehow whereas Ares has insight into the Palace, the Temple etc.

I definitely don’t want more than two PoVs in first-person, since that would be a) bad style and confusing and b) totally unnecessary and makes the story much too convoluted. And then there’s the problem that Damian’s working his way up more and more into the ‘protagonist’ section here and there’s a lot that I need to integrate about him, his life, motivation, the Shadows etc. Adding him would fill a lot of gaps and make it a little bit easier, but also more complex of a plot.

So why first person of course? Call it a hunch, but maybe it’s some kind of personal affinity or my thinking that two third person PoVs just aren’t all that great and that this leaves the possibility open to integrate even more characters such as the almost typical ‘villain perspective’. This again, is something I refrain from doing, because honestly, Ares and Damian have enough insight into the motivations and intrigues of t heir antagonists. No additional PoV necessary.

Meh, there we are again; at the experimental stage. Guess I can’t help that :p

Any thoughts?

EDIT: Yes, I’m very well aware of exactly how screwed I am 8)

I’m a horribly inconsistent person!

I’m serious. Sometimes I just drive myself nuts.

I’m saying here and here that I’ll probably stick with my 3 chapter-experiment of using multiple character PoVs instead of Ares’ first person narrative throughout Light. So guess what I decided now?

After a very nearly sleepless night I’ve finally made up my mind. Honest. I’ve been going over and over this time and time again and after looking closer at the structure of my story (I have to admit I’m not one of those theoretical writers, but sometimes looking at those aspects helps me focus) I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll go back to first-person narrative, Ares only. (I hate novels that use multiple first person narrators, most of the time it’s just a clumsy way to say “Well I didn’t know how else to do it”)

I guess the main reason that got me to make up my mind on this is the fact that though I like chapters 13-15 (the only ones I used multiple PoVs) there’s so much in it that is unnecessary or simply too long. Those are things I can have Ares narrate without problems and without getting too long-winded.

Then there’s the fact that I really liked the method I used to show some things only other characters would know or flashbacks into the past in Ares’ dreams. Those dreams are the only passages that are written in third person because they are seen by Ares, but mostly not directly but through the respective character’s eyes. I really liked that method and it fits very well into the story’s overall concept.

I wouldn’t do it just because I want to show things that happen without Ares’ direct knowledge about it, but because it’s part of the Gift that enables him to Dream things that might be true or not. Those sequences are a fundamental part of the story and I’d hate having to scratch them just because it would get too complicated with different PoV’s AND Dreams. So here’s the compromise.

Another nice side effect of switching back into first person is the decrease in editing material that it’ll give me. I won’t have to rewrite 50,000 words from Ares’ PoV, splitting it up into multiple ones. Doing that wouldn’t have decreased my word count, but caused the exact opposite to happen and I really don’t want that.

So yeah, after all my “Oh multiple PoV’s are THE thing to do here” determination I’m feeling pretty much like an inconsistent scatterbrain 😉 But now I have at least tried out both ways, weighed advantages against disadvantages and made up my mind in the process. Can’t tell me I haven’t experimented with all kinds of techniques. But isn’t that what writing is about in the end?