Saturday, June 20, 2009

Taking the Yin with the Yang...

Vacation is over for another year, and I'm back at work this weekend. I was scheduled to be off for another six days after we got home from Myrtle Beach, but on the drive back to Indiana, I started coughing and was sicker than a dog by the time I got home. So, after seven days of fun in the sun (during which the sinus trouble I've had since Easter actually cleared up), I got another week of sniffing, sneezing, stuffy head misery.

Like most things in this life, there's a trade-off. For every up, there is a down, and for every yin, a yang.

Outcast has had it's launch, and I should be getting Fugitive from the copyeditor soon, but now, I'm back to writing the next installment in the series, Hero. I'm trying to learn from the comments of readers and reviewers as I write, and also from those of editors and copyeditors. I hope I'm improving as a writer, but I sometimes worry that if I try to please everyone, I'll end up making no one happy, especially myself. I'm assuming that this is what happens to a writer when a series is reasonably successful: you stop writing them for yourself and start considering the wishes of others. The trouble is, different people like different things. Most of the reviews of Outcast have been favorable, but at least one didn't like the fact that I had switched to the third person POV because (she said) that first person viewpoint was one of the things that made The Cat Star Chronicles unique.

I do enjoy writing in third person because I can explore different points of view in widely divergent locations, but I also miss the intimacy of the heroine's thoughts. It just isn't as personal. I'm still getting the hang of it, and reading other books has helped, but I long for the freedom that I had when I wrote Slave. Jacinth would say--and think!--anything. She had very few limits, and I miss that. Now when I write a direct thought, it's in italics, or designated as a thought in some other way, rather than simply appearing as the narrative portion of the book. Plus, my other heroines aren't as freewheeling as Jacinth. She is, and probably always will be, my favorite, just as Cat will always be my hero. They were the first, and the nearest and dearest to my heart. Perhaps the best thing about the different writing style is that I can bring them back. ;-)

17 comments:

  1. Best wishes, Cheryl, on the writing! I enjoyed your thoughts on first vs. third person. I love first person, too, for the reason you mentioned -- you can get so personal, so intimately involved with the narrator. But it does limit you, too, since you can only show the reader what the narrator sees.

    For a good example of a very intimate third person style, you might look at Alice McDermott's CHARMING BILLY. I think it's classified as literary fiction (or upmarket fiction? Dunno.), but when I started to read it, I thought it was in first person and then was surprised when it became apparent it was third -- so intimate was the narrative at the outset.

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  2. I've never tried to write a romance novel in first person, though I have written mysteries in first. From my understanding most romance readers prefer third person because they like to get the hero's POV.

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  3. I'm working on increasing that intimacy, Libby. I'll take a look at Charming Billy! Thanks!

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  4. Donna,
    I think the reason I prefer first person is because I grew up reading Mary Stewart's romantic suspense novels, which were all written in that style. It seemed very natural to me, and I liked the way the suspense included not only the 'mystery' but also the hero's thoughts and motivations. I was completely unprepared for the romance genre bias against that POV. However, I'm learning to like it more with each book I write.

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  5. Hey Cheryl,
    Another friend of mine is going thru this transition from first to third and she's struggling with it, too. It's definitely a huge change, but I do prefer it for the reasons Donna mentioned--I want the hero's POV in there, too. I'm sure you're doing a great job with it!
    Marie (from SWEATY New Orleans where it's already 95!)

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  6. Thanks, Marie, I'm trying!
    WOW! 95??? It's been almost that hot here for the past few days. I don't believe I care for it...

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  7. Cheryl,
    I like both styles of your writing. I read "Warrior" first and really liked it. I especially liked the animals point of view. I read "Rogue" and nearly had a heart attack. I fell so in love with one particular character. And then I read "Slave" and that became my favorite story. The strong woman point of view made it for me. I thought that's who Cheryl is. I didn't think I'd like the change to third. But then I read "OutCast" and OMG!!! I liked the change in style. I liked the third person's voice. The only problem is these books just have too much sex! LMAO!!!!
    I hope you're feeling better and clear headed enough to work on "Hero" now. BTW It's lonely back at Cat Master's headquarter's. There's only a guy with a Wet T-Shirt trying to fight the heat. It's hot. You better go wet him down again.

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  8. I agree with Donna. The strong woman point of view in SLAVE is very nice. Ladies, do come over to Cheryl's blog today. The wet t-shirt boy is quite provactive.

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  9. In the first version of Romeo, Romeo I wrote Rosalie in first person and Nick in third. I was told that wasn't done so I changed it. I loved Rosalie's voice in first person, it was so much more intimate and with Nick in third, you still got the other POV.

    Later that year, someone called me and told me they had just read a book written in first and third. She said it worked well. I think it was published by Harlequin.

    It would be interesting to ask Deb about the possibility of doing that. It would give you the best of both worlds.

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  10. Isn't Jodi Picoult's PLAIN TRUTH written in first and third? I read it several years ago, so I don't remember.

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  11. I understand that push-pull between writing the book that pleases you and one that pleases the audience--especially when there isn't complete consensus in the audience.

    For every reader who hated something about SEALed With a Promise there seems to be someone else who loved that very thing. Sometimes I can laugh, sometimes I want to pull my hair out.

    About first and third person. I think I see a trend back to first being more acceptable. Both Linda Howard and Lisa Kleypas, after making their names writing in third, have in the last several years come out with first person novels. I just don't think there's the "rule" against it that there was.

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  12. Hi Cheryl,
    So sorry to hear you caught the crud. :-(

    I LOVED those first person suspense stories of Mary Stewart too! But when I sat down and made a serious attempt at my own romantic suspense, I opted for 3rd person for the very reason others have mentioned. I really wanted to get the hero's POV in there. It is a challenge to still find a way to convey the same intimate feeling of 1st person, but hey! We all LOVE a challenge, right?!?!

    AC

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  13. Donna and Sharon,
    I loved writing Slave. It was the most liberating experience I've ever had. Unfortunately, when you write in first person, it forces you to change to a different character's "Voice" with each book. Some friends of mine who have read the books in order have wondered why Warrior was so different from Slave. My response to that is that it's because Jack didn't write it, Tisana did, so the voice is different. I suppose with third person that voice can be more consistent, but I did enjoy "becoming" the different heroines as I wrote their stories.

    PS: I went over and doused him again. I think he's cool now....

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  14. Robin and Libby,
    I'd like to try that first and third thing sometime. I know that some books have been written in first from more than one POV, and though it sounds confusing, I suppose it could be done, but you'd have to be very careful with it.

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  15. LOL! I've had the same experience, MM. What one reader will love, another will hate. I guess we just can't please 'em all!

    I'd like to see the trend shift to where it didn't matter which POV you use. A friend of mine recently read Outcast and though she loved it, the change in style threw her off at first. I could easily go back to writing in first, but I'm not sure I'd like to give up the hero's POV now that I've discovered what an interesting place it can be!

    Hmm... a romance novel written in first person entirely from the male POV. Now, that would be fun!

    Yes, AC, it's our job to meet the challenge and change the world; one romance novel and POV at a time....

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  16. I understand the whole theory of the ying and the yang. Everyone has different tastes and appealing to everyone is wow.

    I love how you bring the characters back in each book :D

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  17. Ack, Cheryl, I thought I had commented yesterday. I can't keep track of anything!!! :) Great post, and you do a super job on your books! :)

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