Category Archives: My Own Prince Charming

Writing: Methods

One thing I’ve learned about my writing style over the years is that methods don’t work for me. How I approach one novel doesn’t work for another one. The lifespan of one book doesn’t look anything like the lifespan of another. For example, during my marathon writing sessions on Sing, Sweet in November I watched a lot of movies. I don’t know why, but I did. Working on my previous project, I usually wanted silence. Now? Bring on the music.

Maybe it’s because music is an integral part of the book, but I write better for these characters listening to my iPod. Listening to songs I love is helping me write songs for my bands and helping me imagine their life and their story. It’s working so well I’ve written about 20,000 words just in the past few days. But will this continue? Who knows. The scariest thing about my mind is not even I understand how it works.

What is the point to this post? There are a lot of people and books and sites that will tell you they have a “foolproof” way you can write a book in three days or a month or three months or whatever. The truth? There’s no such thing. What works for me may not work for you. The best thing to do is take all these suggestions in, try them out, and throw out the ones that feel more or less worthless. If you can, try to develop a system that works for you because you’re more likely to have consistent results, but don’t lock yourself into a “method” thinking that it’s the only way to get the job done. The most important things are the words in your mind and how best to translate them onto paper. Or computer screen… Whatever. You get the idea. 🙂

Plot: Figuring Out The Middle Bits

I am just over 56,000 words through my novel My Own Prince Charming, but unlike the last time I hit this mark in a project, I’m not fighting my way word by word to the end. I have the end. And I like it. I have the first 8 chapters. I like those, too. It’s that whole middle section that’s giving me trouble this time.

The story I’m building is complex and a little creepy and needs a lot of hints, subplots, and foreshadowing. Right now I’m not able to decide what scenes and dialogue are best to get my characters from where they are to where they end up. It’s a struggle writers have to face in every book they’re ever going to write and it’s going to be harder for some stories (and some authors) than others. How do you overcome it? Well, you just have to …. Honestly, I have no clue. Random scenes have popped into my head periodically through the last few months and I’ve written them as they’ve hit, but I haven’t made a significant dent in the progress in quite a while. The worst bit is not really being sure how much more I need. Am I three or four chapters from being done or do I need eight or nine chapters worth of story to really flesh everything out? Hopefully I’ll find some way to figure this all out. If/when I do, I’ll come back and let you know.

Do you have any ideas?

Point of View: First Person

Although I have no statistics to back up my claim, I would rate first person as one of the two most popular narrative styles. Especially in contemporary fiction. Why is this? What about this style of voice makes it so appealing? To explain the draw of first person, you first have to know what first person is.

According to Wikipedia: First-person point of view is a narrative mode where a story is narrated by one character at a time, speaking for and about themselves.

This is the least distant of all narrative voices. By using personal pronouns like I and we, the author creates a direct connection to the character telling the story. In this case, the narrator is a direct participant in the action and usually, though not always, the protagonist. through this style, readers see the world as the narrator does. The clip is an example of first person narrative and the opening paragraph of my Prince Charming project (for now, anyway…):

I suddenly decided that the status of teenager was the worst punishment ever inflicted on mankind. No other state of being was so completely able to take care of themselves yet kept entirely dependent on their elders. One of my father’s favorite phrases was “Just wait until you have a daughter,” but if it were up to him I’d be strapped into a chastity belt and locked in a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon until I died. Sometimes I thought that would be a better fate than being so close to freedom I could touch it from the end of my six-inch leash.

Using this voice allows you to directly incorporate the narrator’s thought, feelings, reactions, and desires into the story, but it also entails dramatic restrictions. not only are you limited to the point of view of a single character, you are limited to their biases, prejudices, level of intelligence, physical capabilities, and everything else that makes them unique. You can only tell the reader things that this particular character knows or chooses to recognize.

Still, first person is a wonderful point of view and (obviously) one I use extensively. The ability to tell someone’s story in their own words is a powerful tool. It can help cruel character appear sympathetic, bring out the insights of an observant character, and employ the emotional magnetism of a character struggling through adversity. It can eliminate the need for direct, italicized thoughts and give the book a perspective it wouldn’t have had with an impartial, distant narrator. At the same time, you must be wary of the pitfalls and realize that not all characters make good storytellers, even if their tales are worth hearing. Luckily, that’s where the other points of view come into play…

See also: 
POV Overview
Second Person
Third Person Objective
Third Person Limited Omniscient
Third Person Omniscient

Excerpt copyright Erica Cameron