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Archive for June, 2010

The Tenacious Dream

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 29, 2010

A couple of years ago Nicole Murphy came to Brisbane and we met for coffee in town. We talked about her ‘tenacious dream’ and how hard it was to believe in yourself and keep writing. I am delighted to be able to invite Nicole onto the ROR blog to promote the first book of her series!.

Lovely cover, by the way.

Take it away, Nicole ….

I remember quite vividly the moment I decided to be a published author.

I was eleven years old. Our school had just been introduced to process writing – until then, all the writing was ‘What I did on my holidays’ or excursion reports. Then, in Year Six, we were allowed to write whatever we wanted.

I wrote what I still believe to be my magnum opus – Thunder King. The story of a boy and his horse, who won five Melbourne Cups and three Caulfield Cups and in-between, had adventures in the Australian bush such as finding and killing a rampaging lioness, then adopting her orphaned cubs.

Damn, it was a good story.

Anyhoo, the teacher decided our stories would be published. A parent typed them up. I worked feverishly on the cover (the horribleness of the horse I drew still haunts me to this day) and then it was collated, stapled together and there it was.

A book. That I wrote. With my name on the cover.

And I knew that one day, I’d have that for real.

It’s taken nearly thirty years but today, that dream has finally come true. Secret Ones, book one in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy, is on the shelves.

It’s entirely my fault it’s taken so long. You see, I kept turning away from the dream. I let things like fear, or doing the “right thing” get in the way.

But the dream never gave up on me. It sat there, tapping me on the shoulder, continually feeding me ideas, never letting up.

In 2000, I started to commit to the dream. By the end of 2003, that commitment had petered out but not before the dream sowed its greatest seed – I’d written the drafts of a three-book fantasy romance series.

In 2005-2006 I edited The Outcast, one of the CSFG anthologies (with some kick-arse stories, by the way, including by RORers Maxine, Rowena, Tansy and Richard). Finally there it was – a book with my name on it. But it was a hollow victory, because the words inside weren’t mine. Other writers had sweated and laid themselves onto the page. I hadn’t.

The dream kicked me and we got back in business. It pointed to the fantasy romance series and whispered in my ear that it was good, it was fun to work on, it was commercially viable, and this was the one that could do it for me…

The dream was right. Thanks to its persistence, the dream came true. Then, to my surprise, it very calmly stepped aside to let other dreams come to the fore.

Photo courtesy Cat Sparks

Dreams of success. Dreams of making this a career. Dreams of writing and being published for the rest of my life.

The dream wasn’t holding on just for itself – no, it was holding on for the other dreams, which I hadn’t begun to conceive of yet.

So the moral – follow your dream, because you don’t know what dreams it’s working for.

Question for giveaway – I think coming up with this question has been harder than writing the novel.  Anyway, here ‘tis – In my first published book at age 11, my horse Thunder King won five Melbourne Cups. In reality, what is the most number of Melbourne Cups won by a single horse?

(We will collect the right answers, put them in a virtual ice-cream bucket and pull one out).

NOTE -The copy of Nicole’s bookw as won by Leanne C Taylor.

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Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry | Tagged: , , , | 17 Comments »

Like tears in the rain …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 26, 2010

‘All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.’

Did you know that this famous line from Blade Runner was an ad lib on the actor’s part? Rutger Hauer knew his character so well, he could trust himself to  ‘voice’ the right thing.

Here’s a link to watch the scene.

This week’s writing craft post is about ‘VOICE’, as in the author’s voice. It is so hard to define.

I once asked an editor what they were looking for and they said, they’d know it when they saw it. That’s what authorial voice is like. You know it when you see it.

Some writers have a strong voice and it flavours all their writing. Other writers are more like actors and they slip in and out of voices. I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic so I’ve been gathering insights from others.

What prompted me to tackle this topic was a post by Sarah Hoyt over at the Mad Genius Club. She was looking at voice as it varies from book to book and has this to say about one book and trusting yourself:

‘And then there’s the just-completed Sword and Blood, which has sexual overtones. These make me uncomfortable, not the least because the sex involved is to put it mildly “odd” and I’m afraid people will think it’s my particular kink. (It’s not.) I realized I was stopping fully before any chapter where sex needed to be and then ‘got around it’ by TALKING about sexual feelings. Because that was rationalizing it, and I’m more comfortable with rationality. But the character is not rational about this. In fact, that’s a great part of his challenge. So I had to pull my damper out of it and go in full voice.’

There’s a lot of advice on the web on how to find your voice. Here is a podcast with Julia McCutchen on how to find your authentic voice.

Steve Pressfield analyses voice over here. He talks about the role of voice.

‘The writer’s voice casts a spell. The right voice makes the work accessible; it gives us the tone and point of view that best illuminate the material and make it shine. The magic of Hemingway’s prose is that it describes events the way the human eye sees them. He taught himself this technique as a journalist and he used it very consciously and deliberately.

The door opened. Brett stood there. Behind her was the count.

Hemingway’s technique creates the illusion of seeing. He designed it that way. The way the human eye works. That voice also carries an undertone of despair, of willfully fabricated detachment and objectivity.’

And here Jayne Pupek analyses the elements of voice. She breaks it into Diction, Syntax, Tone and Dialogue.

Trust Holly Lisle to have a useful article on her web site about writer’s voice.  She has ten steps to help you find your writing voice. She says:

Your goal is to achieve all three of those milestones:

  1. To sell your work;
  2. To reach first-time readers with it;
  3. To win these first-time readers over as repeat readers of your work.

You do that by offering them something they can’t get anywhere else — and the only thing in the universe that readers cannot get anywhere but from you is . . . you.

All of which is fair enough. I like her ‘Dare to be Dreadful’.  As children we are encouraged to attempt things, even though it is likely we will fail. In fact, it is expected that we will fail at first, until we gain the skills to succeed. As adults it is much harder to accept failure because we expect to be competant. We have a lot of ourselves invested in success. But being a creative person means you are constantly putting yourself on the line. Failure is always an option.

And you never get accustomed to the pain of failure. Each rejection hurts because you put 110% into your work.

It seems to me that voice is about trusting yourself and writing from instinct.  What do you think?

Posted in Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Voice, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Update from the European Front

Posted by richardharland on June 25, 2010

Touring is now over – two weeks in the US, then two weeks in the UK. So many readings and signings, so many school visits. Plus publishers met and lunched with. Last was my French publisher – I booked a hotel close by, and it turned out to be the perfect spot, in the Latin Quarter and near the Rue Mouffetard.

Impossible to start filling in all the details – they’re on my blog at

richardharland.wordpress.com

We’re now in Bruges (if I do hundreds of typos, it’s because the keys on a Belgian/French keyboard are all in different places.

Just in case you thiought travelling abroad was easy, here’s the score so far. Aileen: one swollen puffed-up toe and one v stiff neck (from carrying backpack). Richard: one sore throat (needing frequent doses of rum to keep it in checkà and one bad back (thank you, Paris Metro with your lack of escalators). But we’re still having a ball – even if shuffling as we dance along.

Bruges is the perfect place for taking it easy, rambling along narro cobbled streets and green dreamy canals, drinking Belgian beer (the best, and v strong and v cheap), sampling Belgian chocolates. Our bedroom window looks out on a canal. If only I could work out how to download photos onto a PC. I’ll add them to this blog the moment I get back.

Meanwhile, what’s been happening back in Oz? We turn our backs for a couple of minutes and the whole political scene changes. Kevin out and Julia in? When I left 6 weeks ago, the worst for Kevin was a couple of bad opinion polls!!

Cheers,   R

Posted in Nourish the Writer, Promoting your Book | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Importance of Excellent Books

Posted by trentjamieson on June 24, 2010

Well, what a tumultuous day. Australia now has its first female Prime Minister, we’re no longer in World Cup contention, and I’ve somehow managed to write a couple of thousand words – all while following the making of Australian Political History via Twitter, News Radio and ABC 1.

And my secret, despite the distractions. I’m reading a great book.

When you’re deep in the writing pit, wrestling with words, while at the same time trying to place them delicately about the narrative like flowers, finding a good book to treat yourself with in the evening is incredibly important. Not only does it clear the palate so to speak, because you can think about your own book too much – no, really – but it gives you something to aim for, and reaffirms your delight in narrative and sentences well written. A good book is not only a delight in itself, it’s a challenge, and it makes you want to write.

I’ve been lucky of late, but the book that’s been pulling me through crunchy-finishing-manuscript-time is Justin Cronin’s The Passage.  Sure, it may well be one of the most hyped books of the year, but it’s also a fabulous take on the end of the world, and it has vampires – that glow in the dark no less.

Whether or not it lives up the hype – well how can anything – but it’s certainly been an effective carrot in getting my writing done. I don’t hit my daily targets, then I don’t get to read this book.

So far I’ve hit my target every day this week, and, right now, I’m itching to sit down and read.

What’s getting everyone excited reading-wise at the moment? Or what books are you most looking forward to reading in the latter part of 2010?

Posted in Creativity, Genre Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Giveaway Alert!

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 22, 2010

Over at the Mad Genius Club – Writers Division we are giving away two copies of ‘The King’s Bastard’.

Drop by and try your luck.

Posted in Book Giveaway, Promoting your Book | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Writing Groups, where would we be without them?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 19, 2010

Stuck in our garrets writing away, not sure if what we write is any good. Even with the internet, which has been a lifesaver for writers, we still need that face to face time.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to the writers I’ve met over the last 15 years who have offered me a ‘hand up’. More than that, I’ve made such wonderful friends.

For starters there is this web site and the ROR group.

For information on how to start your own peer critiquing group based on ROR, see here. And for our tips on critiquing see here.

But you may not want to plunge in by starting your own group. There are Writers Centres in every state and these are a good place to start. I went to many QLD Writer Centre workshops when I first started out and really enjoyed them.

And there are quite a few writing groups already established. I’ve been trawling the internet looking for writing groups. If I have missed yours, let me know and I’ll amend this post. (With thanks to everyone who emailed me with the names of writing groups).

These are specifically Speculative Fiction writing groups dedicated to helping their members polish their craft and achieve publication. In no particular order.

ACT – The Canberra Science Fiction Guild.(est?)

The CSFG helps science fiction, fantasy and horror writers and illustrators develop their craft through critiquing, and sharing news and experiences. They have produced six anthologies which have been open to writers throughout Australia. (I couldn’t see a ‘history’ page so I’m not sure when they were established).

Queensland – Vision Writers Group (est 1996 – on Father’s day to be exact. Marianne and I abandoned our husbands to the children and ran away to the QWC to attend the first meeting because we were desperate for a Spec Fic writing group).

They say: VISION was formed to give science fiction, fantasy and horror writers in Queensland a chance to meet their peers, have their work critiqued and critique the work of others. We’re about writing, critiquing, sharing experiences and expanding the opportunities for speculative fiction writers in Queensland and Australia. And that’s what we do.

The group is centred on our monthly meetings and the Discussion List but there are lots of other things we do that you can become involved in, if you like. Our aim is to foster a literature-based speculative fiction community that produces good stories and good writers.

There is the Vision discussion list for those who can’t get along to the meetings.

South Australia – Ad Astra (est 2006)

They say: We are a group of dedicated and supportive writers of speculative fiction who meet regularly to critique work submitted by members, and to discuss industry news, information, problems, and specified topics. (limited to 12 members).

Also South Australia – Blackwood Writers Group (est 1996) and Blackwood Writers Group NE Branch (est 2005).

They don’t have a ‘mission statement’ on their web sites, but they seem pretty serious about the craft of writing.

Victoria – SuperNOVA (est 1999)

They say: We have around 20 members who meet regularly (although usually not all at once) to talk about SF writing-such as aspects of structure, expression, inspiration, publishing markets and conventions. Whereas the atmosphere is informal, SuperNOVA’s intent is serious, with most members striving to make writing their day-time job (as opposed to part-time addiction). If nothing else, SuperNOVA provides a social forum for SF writers, freeing us periodically from the otherwise solitary struggle of storytelling.

Tasmania -(Let me know if there is a writing group in Tassie)

Tansy tells me the ‘Invisible College’ is pretty much defunct, but they do haved a regular Hobart writing group. Only it more a meeting-to-write-in-company, than a critique group.

Western Australia – I know there is a strong contingent of writers and fans in WA. (Please let me know if there are any Spec Fic writing groups).

Update. Satima tells me the Stromatolights no longer exist as a writing group, although it still has a mailing list with a little traffic.  (If anyone has the address let me know. I couldn’t find it).

AND There is an active group (which was mentored for a while by Dave Lucket) at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre. It has run a biennial mini-con since 2006. This is the link. (Thanks to Carol for bringing it to my attention).

Egoboo WA is a bunch of writers who are working together to crit, learn, and inspire each other. We all live in Perth, Western Australia, and found we have heaps in common.

New South Wales – Infinitas Bookshop Writers Group (est?)

They say they meet to foster:

  • greater understanding of our writing’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • donation of suggestions for improvements to particular stories; and
  • free exchange of information and experience relevant to writers.

As a secondary objective the group provides a social forum for writers to converse with others who share an interest in, and understanding of the issues of, speculative fiction writing.

Edwina thinks there might also be a writing group in Western Sydney so if you know about it, let me know.

Chris tells me there is the Thorbys Writing Group. Most of the members have attended Clarion South and the group was originally started from one of Terry Dowling’s Workshops. For more details see Chris’s comment below.

Northern Territory – If you know of a Spec Fic writing group, please let me know.

Australian Groups – now we are getting into groups with a different aim from just developing their writing craft.

The Australian SF Foundation (est 1976).

The Australian Science Fiction Foundation (affectionately known as the Foundation) was formally established in 1976, partially to carry on the work of Aussiecon, the first Australian World Science Fiction Convention.

Its main purpose is to sponsor and encourage the creation and appreciation of science fiction in Australia. The Foundation does that through the sponsorship and administration of writing workshops and short story competitions, seed loans to national conventions, and the publication of its newsletter, The Instrumentality. The Foundation has, since its inception, been a resource centre for everyone involved in Science Fiction in Australia.

Aurealis Awards (est 1995)

The Aurealis Awards were established by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

A lot of people have worked very hard over the years to keep these awards going. A complete list of award winners is available for download on this page.

Clarion South (est 2003)

Clarion is an intensive six week workshop for writers preparing for a professional career in speculative fiction. Clarion has been described as “boot camp” for speculative fiction writers.

In 2002, a new organisation was established in Queensland, Australia to bring the Clarion experience to the southern hemisphere. The first two Clarion South workshops were held in 2004 and 2005, before it became biennial, with subsequent workshops hosted in 2007 and 2009.

Anyone can apply to attend Clarion South (they must be accepted). It is a great experience. See here for FAQs.

Australian Horror Writers Association (est. 2003, incorporated 2005)

(This group is incorporated in Victoria, but its focus is Australia wide so I have listed under Australian groups). They say:

AHWA aims to become the first point of reference for writers and fans of the dark side of literature in Australia. AHWA aims to spread the acceptance and improve the understanding of what horror is in literature to a wider audience, and in doing so gain a greater readership for established and new writers alike.

AHWA aims to offer new writers:

  • Mentor Programs
  • Critique services
  • Competitions
  • Informative tips by authors, agents and editors on how to get published

There will also be:

  • Genre news on the Australian scene
  • Links to horror-related and writing resources
  • Regular articles on writing and the horror genre
  • An active presence at Australian speculative fiction conventions
  • A continued online community for discussions of the horror genre

To reach these goals we welcome all suggestions, comments and ideas. For further information, please contact AHWA

The ‘nascent’ Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (on facebook)

They say:

This association has not been established yet. This will be a not for profit entity with an annual membership fee similar to the standard set by the AHWA.

The point of this page at the moment is to gauge the interest and support of the community and to encourage ideas and debate about what should be included.

Mission:
What we will do when we set this association up:
* Support and promote Australian science fiction and fantasy writers
* Assist writers of any level of skill or any number of publications in their activities
* Having a place online for people anywhere in the country to be involved in the community and establish new relationships
* Create a new place on the internet for all members to promote their works
Australian web sites which foster the genre by offering reviews, information on markets etc.

ASIF – Australian Spec Fic in FocusASIF is a voluntary group run by booklovers who love reading speculative fiction.

InkspillersMagazines, Anthologies, competitions, editors, publishers, awards, conventions, resources, foriegn resources.

SpecusphereThe Specusphere is an independent website created by people who want to explore the speculative world as a creative industry.

WORLD SF CONVENTION Aussiecon 4The 68th World Science Fiction Convention will be held 2-6 September 2010 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Our Guests of Honour are Hugo-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning Melbourne artist Shaun Tan, and dedicated fan Robin Johnson.  Melbourne has also hosted Worldcons in 1975, 1985, and 1999.

The annual Worldcon brings together science fiction and fantasy professionals and fans from around the world.  All forms of SF&F are represented – film, television, comics, costuming, gaming, and especially literature.  Programming includes panel discussions, lectures, science demonstrations, films, readings, and autographing.

For information in what is happening in the Australian scene see the Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet. (You can subscribe to this for free).

For a list of Australian Spec Fic writers see here. (Feel free to contact Specusphere with updates).

For a list of writing groups across Australia see here. (This list is not complete).

For a list of Specialty Bookshops see Eric Lindsay’s list here. (This list may not be complete).

I am just about ‘listed out’ now.  I started compiling this because I had to write an article on fantasy – The Power of Fantasy. And I could not find a definitive list of Australian fantasy writers, let alone speculative fiction writers. So I began making lists.

(Please note all care has been taken to find and include writing groups from small local groups to associations which foster the genre. If I have missed a group, please let me know and I will amend the post).

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Publishing Industry, Writing Groups, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Dream Job

Posted by trentjamieson on June 17, 2010

Writers at this stage of a draft are very boring creatures. It’s all about the book. About finishing the book. And leave me alone world, I have this book I want to finish. Can you see a theme here?

The most important thing at this stage is that you’re always moving forward.

Sometimes this is about word count, sometimes it’s about cutting a sentence or a scene that doesn’t work – so moving forward can seem like moving backwards. There are very few days when I don’t do something on the story: even fewer when I’m this deep into a book. The word count’s variable, the time spent in front of the computer likewise, but I’m always working on the book.

So far book three has been the easiest book to write because, well, it has the weight of the previous two books pushing it on. Things still surprise me. I found myself crying when I was working on a scene towards the end of the book yesterday – this is either a good sign or a bad one, not sure which.

Last night I woke up at three am with an idea for a scene and wrote it down. Well, I thought I did. Turns out it was a dream.

Doesn’t matter, waking or sleeping, I know where there this book is going: it’s just a matter of carrying the story there now. That’s the challenge, to get this draft finished.

I only hope that when I do, I don’t wake up and find it’s all been a dream.

(Though if that’s the case it’s a dream where two puppy dogs are staring at me, wondering where their dinner is. Oh, and on a slightly related note my book has now gone to the printers! And, believe it or not, the text of book two is also ready to go off – who’d believe it!)

Posted in Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Edit Edit Edit

Posted by tansyrr on June 14, 2010

Starting tomorrow I have three weeks of flat out editing on Book 2 ahead of me, and we all know what that means, don’t we? PLAYLIST. I learned to write to music during the last two years doing Nanowrimo – words with lyrics are just fine, the louder and faster the better, anything to make the typing speed up. I haven’t been doing so much writing with music lately, but editing is another matter.

Editing has to be swift and merciless, for me. I need harsh deadlines and a good beat to set the pace. If I go over a manuscript too many times (for structural type stuff, you can never check for typos too many times) then the whole thing starts crumbling and fracturing, like over-beating a cake mixture.

Also, when it comes to editing, how do you know when to stop? It can always be improved, right? For me, it’s all about boundaries. And a kick ass PLAYLIST.

In preparation for tomorrow, then, here are the songs I will be banging my head to while I plough through the work I have to do, Making Book Better. They all have a few things in common: they are fierce, feisy, fast and oh yes, made of awesome. Some of these are old faithfuls, some are character-specific and others are newly added to the ranks of Songs I Can Edit To

See you on the other side…

Edit — Regina Spektor
Dance, Dance, Dance — Lykke Li
Scared As F**k — An Horse
Dance for Me — Pony Up!
Look Good In Leather — Cody Chesnutt
Paris Is Burning — Ladyhawke
I’m Going Slightly Mad — Queen
Coin Laundry — Lisa Mitchell
Untouchable Face — Ani DiFranco
We’re All In This Together — Pony Up
Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) — Beyoncé
Back to the Start — Lily Allen
Foundations — Kate Nash
No Air (Glee Cast Version) — Glee Cast
Sancho Panza — Hello Saferide
God’s Gift To Women — Kate Miller-Heidke
Sour Cherry — The Kills
Leeds United — Amanda Palmer
Meet Me in the Red Room — Amiel (Moulin Rouge 2)
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun — Cyndi Lauper
Our Daughters Will Never Be Free — The Indelicates
Dusk Til Dawn — Ladyhawke
My Baby Just Cares For Me — Nina Simone
New Art For the People — The Indelicates
Burning Down the House — Tom Jones & The Cardigans
Does He Love You? — Rilo Kiley
One Week — Barenaked Ladies

Posted in Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Convincing First Person Narrative

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 12, 2010

Kathleen from the VISION writing group has asked for an insight into first person narrative*, particularly in the area of conveying emotion.

(*First Person — I did this, I did that).

Deciding which Point of View (POV or VP) to use might sound like a no-brainer, but it can make a big difference to your book. Why do you think mysteries are often told in first person VP?

Because the reader only knows what that narrator knows, and this heightens tension as the mystery unfolds. So if you want to drip feed information, or even mislead the reader with an unreliable narrator you could use first person. (See here for an explanation of unreliable narrator).

Many children’s books are written from first person VP because it is so immediate and the reader can connect with the narrator. Another good reason for writing in first person. Deep point of view draws a reader in. (You can use third person but make it deep point of view by treating third person more like first person).

I like to use first person when the character is not human. The English language is very limited. Say you have an AI that is neither male nor female, but obviously intelligent, what gender do you use? I have come across books where the author invents a non-gender specific pronoun and uses it. But I find this jars each time I read the invented word. It feels mannered. (For a look at female writers of the 70s who challenged gender have a look at my KRK blog.)

So there are very good reasons for using first person narrative. Richard Harland has a section on Point of View in his writing tips, which covers the basics. He also has a section on conveying emotion here.

Trent says:

‘All my books are written in first person.

I think first person is all about voice. If the voice isn’t distinctive or important to the story you might as well write in a close third person. To get that voice you really need to know your character well, look at the world through their eyes, think about how they perceive things, what they feel, the lies they tell themselves. And you have to think about this in how they express themselves. What are they going to see when they walk in a room, what are they going to miss? Are they conceited or self loathing, do they think the world is against them, or they against the world.

Education, and vocab are important too. Do they have any verbal tics, that might be reflected in their thinking or, conversely or do they stammer, but their thought processes are clear. How do they think. There’s so many variables that you can consider. And you don’t need to consider them all, but you do need to be brave and make strong choices – it can even come down to repetition of phrases, or a certain rhythm in the way that character describes things like Holden Caulfield in Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

As far as great first person novels go I think the best, with multiple first person points of view, is William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Every voice is distinctive, and clear. It’s a book worth studying.

As is any short story in first person by Raymond Carver, Angela Carter, or John Cheever. “Reunion” by Cheever is amazing, and only a bit over a thousand words long. As is “Fat” by Raymond Carver. There’s plenty of more recent stuff, and a lot of spec fic with wonderful powerful first person narratives, but sometimes it’s good to look at the techniques of writers working out of the genre. And I reckon Margo is fabulous at creating distinctive 1st Person POVs.

‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon is all about voice, a child with Aspergers, and what is heartbreaking are the things that he sees but doesn’t understand. The tone is measured, confused, but logical – he sees the pain in those around him, but can’t comprehend it. Oh and “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a marvellous evocation of voice too.’

And there are the authors who mix first person narrative with third person.  Lian Hearn did this in ‘Across the Nightingale Floor’. Dickens did it with Bleak House, Esther was told in first person. ‘Veniss Underground’ by Jeff Vandermeer uses first, second and third person narration.

Holly Lisle talks about using first person VP and how to handle time. After all, if you think about it, the narrator must be telling you what happened ‘after’ it has happened. She goes into great detail about how long in the past events have happened to the first person narrator. She says:

‘Time is an essential part of any story, but with stories told in the first person, it takes on unique characteristics as a gatekeeper of knowledge and the controller of suspense. If you’re writing in the first person, take the time to think about time.’

There are a of lot very useful writing tips on Holly’s page.

According to Tansy, if you’re looking for good examples of authors using first person narrative and making the narrative voice distinctive  look up Sarah Monette’s Melusine books, and Cherie Priest’s sub press novella Dreadful Skin.

Voice, first person, time and emotion. Have you read any first person narrative recently that impressed you?

Posted in Characterisation, Good Dialogue, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Where I’m At – Or it’s nearly over and Done

Posted by trentjamieson on June 10, 2010

It’s actually starting to feel like I’m going to deliver book three it in time. I’m halfway through my draft, which sounds like there’s a lot to go, and there is even though my books are shortish, still all but a few of the core scenes are now written. For me the first half is always the hardest, it takes me a while to get traction, but it’s happening and the book is almost all I can think about.

I know how my characters change and grow in this book, the ending is written, and I have the bit that I love most about the initial drafting process to do now. The sorting out, the ordering of scenes and the filling in of gaps. There’s all manner of surprises to come, I know this because in both earlier books I was still surprising myself up until the copy edits, but I feel the bones of the book are sound now.

It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks this draft will be done. Of course, as we’ve already discussed in this blog that’s only one sort of ending and many more steps lie ahead. But, even though no-one but my editors will be reading this book until next year, I’m going to be moving onto new things. Even while I’m doing structural edits, copy edits and reading page proofs I’ll be tinkering with new things (and wondering if I can sell them).

New books are new starts, and I’m dying to get onto new things. But this third book isn’t finished yet, and there’s still a lot of pleasure to be had from it. I’m going to miss Steven, Lissa and co. And I’m going to miss writing about their peculiar version of Brisbane.

If you’re interested in what I’m going to be like just after delivering the manuscript feel free to come to my book launch on Friday the 13th of August at Avid Reader in West End. There you’ll see a writer with two books finished, one book out, waiting to hear back from his editors about the third, and wondering what he is going to do next.

The major difference between that writer and this one is that a dream of mine will finally be fulfilled: after thirty odd years of writing I’ll have a novel, and one that I adore (written about a city I love)on the shelves.

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