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Friday, September 14, 2012

GUEST BLOG: BRITA ADAMS

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At each stop of the tour, I'll give away a copy of an ebook from my backlist to one randomly drawn commenter. For Men Like Us, the newest release, isn't eligible.

At the end of the tour, I'll select one person from all of the commenters and that person will win a swag pack, containing *tons* of Brita Addams swag.
My POV on POV
Brita Addams


As a writer of romance, I'm aware of most the no-nos in writing. Craft-wise you have passive voice, unnecessary use of words like *that*, and filter phrases like "she felt her heart beat fast" or "he felt his d**k harden." If they didn't who would, right? The filters distance the reader from the story.

Romances must have a happy ending or at least a happy for now ending, something as a reader I find mandatory. Who wants to read a whole novel and find out that the couple went their separate ways?

Romances, as with most other writing, are a mere snapshot in time, a mere segment of the characters lives. Theoretically, they existed before the story, and will go on after the story ends. We are fortunate to be privy to this most important event—the meeting, falling in love, and HEA.

One of the most egregious errors one can make in writing these days is head-hopping. This is when more than one character has a point of view in one scene. Apparently, this wasn't always the case, that it was an error, as I've recently discovered.

Of late, I've revisited some of my favorite romances, some written in the late '80s and early '90s—bodice rippers if you will. There is a decided difference, in the style of writing, from more currently written novels. Not just as I read from author to author, but in the accepted methods of writing itself.

In many, everyone has a point of view, in the same scene. Often, each paragraph is devoted to a different character and their vision of the events. Sometimes, and I can only attribute this to different editing styles as well, there are times when two or more people have a POV in the same paragraph.

While not confusing, it is different, and I have to say, lends something to the story. I can't say I don't like it, because I do. It truly makes for a well-rounded story, giving the overall impression that everyone in the story is involved and has something to contribute, without that conclusion coming from the POV character. Think of it in terms of a movie, where you have a scene with several people, and you get to see and hear from all of them.

I've long maintained that, particularly in a love scene, the characters should each have a POV. Editors have told me that it is confusing to readers. I've listened to them, not written scenes as my heart dictated, though I don't agree at all. I do think that readers are underestimated. Most are thoroughly capable of distinguishing who is doing, thinking, and saying what.

Sadly, I think stories in all genres have taken on a rather simplistic writing approach, in an effort possibly, to appeal to a wider audience. The less complicated the plot, the story, and the characters, the easier it is to pull in folks who don't like complicated. There is a certain merit to that school of thought, but then again, there is much to be missed by simplifying everything.

Not every story is best told from one POV or another, or just two, just like not every story is best told in third person or first. For instance, I find first person to be extremely one-dimensional. You only get the story from one POV, and unless that character is particularly observant, you don't know much at all about the other characters, their surroundings, and definitely nothing about how they each feel about what is happening. I've written a couple of first person shorts, and found the style, for me, to be very unfulfilling.

Third person is the way I write and I like it. Being observant in real life, I make my characters observant as well. They probably see too much, if you know what I mean, but that's the way I view life. I see everything.

The very first thing I wrote, with any thought of publication, is rife with "head hopping," the buzz phrase for what used to be a quite acceptable writing style. I've stopped entertaining any thought of actually revising that 130k tome to fit into "modern" day acceptability, because it is a daunting task. I wrote it after years of reading romances written the same way. THEN, I read about head hopping.

I don't think everyone should have a POV in every scene, but I do enjoy both the main characters being on equal footing throughout the book. It adds a richness to the story that alternating POV scenes just can't do. That method begs the author to constantly add observances from the POV caractère de l'instant.

Take, for instance, an argument or a love scene. There is heat generated in each. Do you spend time observing the other person, ruminating about what they are thinking or feeling? Probably not. However, when writing those scenes, we must constantly do that, to bring the non-POV character into the scene, so it doesn’t seem, to the reader, so one sided.

I'd love to see a return to a time when each character is responsible for relating their own feelings to the reader. Placing the onus on one at a time is cumbersome. Certainly, authors do it every day, but I find, in rereading the older romances, that there is a richness that is missing within the strictures of "one at a time, please."

I shudder to think what some of those authors must have felt when they were told that the style they wrote was no longer acceptable. Should there be fads in writing style? Trends? I don't think so. Good writing is good writing, no matter what decade. Leave the fads for skirt lengths and hairstyles.

My newest release is an historical called For Men Like Us, brand new at Dreamspinner Press. There is a nice long excerpt there, as well as the purchase link. Here is the blurb:

After Preston Meacham’s lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes his only way of life. Despite his best efforts at starting again, he has no pride left, which leads him to sell himself for a pittance at a molly house. The mindless sex affords him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.

The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the acts he was forced to commit and the torture he endured at the hands of a superior, a man who used the threat of a gruesome death to force Ben to do his bidding. Even sleep gives Ben no reprieve, for he can’t escape the destruction he caused.

When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession. As he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.”

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After Preston Meacham’s lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes his only way of life. Despite his best efforts at starting again, he has no pride left, which leads him to sell himself for a pittance at a molly house. The mindless sex affords him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.

The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the acts he was forced to commit and the torture he endured at the hands of a superior, a man who used the threat of a gruesome death to force Ben to do his bidding. Even sleep gives Ben no reprieve, for he can’t escape the destruction he caused.

When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession. As he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd never heard the term "headhopping" before today. Interesting to read all the different methods of POV--great post!

vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

Debby said...

POV to me is one of the most important parts of the story. If not done right, the book is not right to me.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Shawny Jean said...

POV is key, and in romance I like to be able to read each character's POV. What drives me nuts is one the transition from one POV to the next is not clear.

shawny.jeann at gmail dot com

Michelle said...

Some authors get POV right and some try to experiment a teensy little bit to much :) .
chellebee66 at gmail dot com