QUESTIONS ANSWERED: part two

Monday, August 12, 2013

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I thought we might cover the less-interesting, technical details about Psithurism in the outset, so as to have them laid down before we dig deeper. :)
Jenny & Joy both asked about the tense/narrator of the book, so we'll cover that first.

"In your snippets, I see you writing in the first person, but the first person seems to change. Is that all part of Psithurism and does the first person change, say, from chapter to chapter?"

Jenny, you are correct. I write in the first person for the whole of the novel, however with each chapter there is a different narrator. For example, chapter one is narrated by Adara, and chapter two by Adair. I originally had practically every character narrating, but a beta reader suggested reeling it back in to three or four characters, which I have done. (Thank you, Abigail!) I'm finding it now to be a good bit more cohesive - which is always a good thing. ;)

"I noticed also that in some of the snippets on Tea and Bree you write in present tense. Is that for the full length of the novel, or just bits? What is your main reason for employing this particular tense?"

I originally planned to write the novel in present tense. When I'd finished the book, about 90% of it was written in this way, but I began to realize here and there that I would fall back to past tense reflexively. It obviously was a problem, but I sent it off to my beta readers anway because I'd already made a note on my checklist to change that - and decide on a tense. After I culled through the feedback I was given, I decided on past tense, as it seemed to be coming more naturally for the book (I also find it a bit easier to read). All the new bits I've been writing have been in the past tense, and I'm continuing to re-write the previously written scenes in that tense as well.

I mostly covered this in the above question, but I'll elaborate a bit here. I chose present tense at first because the mood of the novel is very quick - I thought it might help the reader feel right with the character if everything was completely unknown.
But it just got overly dramatic and sometimes confusing, and as you've seen I'm now coming back to the much-reliable past tense. :)

Annie-JoElizabeth asked "What genre is Psithurism?"

Psithurism is in most regards, Fantasy.

3 comments

  1. In re. your first person change: I wasn't privy to your use of multiple persons' view-points, but I'm glad you reduced it to only a few. Even through reading along on Tea & Bree, I've come to expect Adara or Adair, and I can tell which one is speaking based on what is going on. I don't think I would be able to do that with a whole slew of people. In most other things I really enjoy Rosemary Sutcliff's novels, but I have tried several times and not gotten into The Flowers of Adonis because she chose to follow Alkibiades through quite a number of people's view-points written in the first person, and I just couldn't attach myself to them. By the time I had moderately accustomed myself to the character, we were wrapping up a chapter and moving onto the next character, and I had no time to get a glimpse of Alkibiades himself, which was the whole point of writing from another person's perspective: to get an idea of the great Athenian general without getting into his brain (which was a scary place, and should probably be avoided at all costs).

    I think you've found a happy medium. I've done much the same thing with Ethandune, but I'm planning on using that main character for more than one novel so the reader will have plenty of time to get to know him and be able to look out of his eyes at the people around him. I don't want the whole process of learning about these characters to be laborious to the reader.

    I can see how writing in the first person present tense would work for some novels. I'm not fond of it myself, possibly because I'm stubbornly "old-school," possibly because I think it's a type of fad. We'll see. In general, I find the old past tense to be a smoother, gentler style and is much more forgiving to the construction of plots. /can of worms

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    1. Exactly what I was thinking - which is why I was glad Abigail brought it up and gave me another reason to reel in. I was hoping to keep the narrations to simply Adair, Adara, and Tarquin; however, Favian seems to have a lot to say on certain things (another reason he's like Elizabeth ;D), and I'm not entirely sure how to rewrite some sections around him without his POV.

      Blast and wretch! 3 is more aesthetically pleasing than 4....Er, pardon me...

      I'm thinking the present-tense deal is most likely a fad brought on by The Hunger Games - which if you weren't aware, is written in first-person present-tense.

      ...In fact, looking back that's probably why I started writing Psithurism that way. I was still getting over Twilight (I don't know where I got the my book lists back then...) and to go reading Hunger Games and then decide to write a book...well, I certainly hadn't had the best writing models. (This isn't to say I write off The Hunger Games - the story is one that needs to be told, and a very good one at that, but the writing isn't great. This is entirely to say, that I write off Twilight - it's about 2,000 pages of ridiculous, lusting sap.)

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  2. I was aware of The Hunger Games being written in the first person present tense, and I do think that was the origination of the fad. I think it probably works for at least the first book's premise (I have not read them), so I have to lift my cap to Suzanne Collins for that interesting twist. But yes, I do think it is a fad and it is such a different way of writing that I'm dismayed to see amateur writers leaping into the difficult world of writing with such a complex ploy as the first person present tense. Not that I want to hold people back, but it doesn't strike me as the easiest or more forgiving method to use.

    Blerg, Twilight. I see your sparkling vampires and raise you one bookworm pony.

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