Happy Book Day, Nalini Singh!

Wishing a very happy book-release day to Nalini Singh, whose latest work, SILVER SILENCE, hits stores today. This title kicks off a new story arc in Nalini’s New York Times bestselling Psy/Changeling series, so if you’ve been wanting to pick up one of these books, now is the time.

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

Find SILVER SILENCE at your favorite bookstore or e-retailer today.

Writing 3rd Person: Maintaining Limited POV

Writing in first person presents the challenge of maintaining a voice that sounds like a distinctive character instead of that of the author, but third person narration comes with its own set of issues and these can be less clear. Writers need to determine whose third person point of view they are going to use. Are they using a single character? Rotating between two or more characters? Or will they zoom way out and use an omniscient narrative style? Once a writer makes their choice, they need to guard against slipping between them.

Omniscient narration has fallen out of style, but when done well it offers the advantage of not keeping secrets from the reader. However, close third-person POV — either of a single character or several — has become much more of the norm for third-person narratives, in part because many writers like the way it puts the reader right into the action. The trick with this point of view is to maintain that strict closeness and not slide into a more omniscient viewpoint. Some aspects of close third are obvious, and simply a matter of keeping track. Who knows what? Who has learned what facts, been present for a given discussion, overheard which secret? When it comes to plot points, it’s not difficult to determine if a character should know about something.

The tricky part of close third-person POV comes with description. There is a tendency to think of third person as the writer setting up their movie camera where the character stands, and writing as if they were filming from that specific spot. It’s logical — the description consists of whatever that camera “sees” from that position. But close third provides more than the view from the character’s eyes — it’s the view from that character’s brain, as well. Descriptions from a character’s POV must be both what they see and what they think about what they see, and here is where things often slip from the character’s POV to the writer’s — or from close third to omniscient.

In close third person, a character should see and observe in a way that makes sense for them, not just as a way to inform the reader of what a room looks like or what is going on in a scene. A wealthy society matron or an interior decorator might walk into a well-appointed living room and recognize the rug as a French Aubusson, but most characters probably would not. An actor who spends a lot of time on the red carpet and with stylists might identify his date’s dress as Armani, but an accountant for a computer company would be much less likely to make the same observation. A writer needs to know their characters, and understand how they see the world. Does the protagonist stick their head out the third story window and see a Porsche coming up the block or a red sports car? The reader must see what the character sees, and nothing more.

This distinction also comes into play in smaller details, such as how other characters are referred to within the text. When the protagonist walks into a room full of strangers, it makes sense to differentiate with physical details, such as the redhead, the woman in the black dress, the taller of the two men. But these vague descriptions should end the minute specifics are assigned. Once the POV character meets the beautiful redhead and knows her name is Susan, they should stop thinking of her as the redhead or the knockout or the beautiful woman, because people don’t reverse their thinking process in that way; she’s Susan.

Similarly, if a male protagonist is speaking to another man, and they are the only characters in the scene, the second character should never be referred to as the other man. Doing so pulls the reader out of the protagonist’s head, out of the room, to a place hovering above the scene where they are aware of two people talking. The protagonist doesn’t think of the person he’s speaking to as the other man — he just thinks of him as Joe or Dad or whoever he is. These sorts of errors often come into play when writers are looking for a way to avoid using a name or a pronoun too often, but it’s much more important to maintain the established POV than to avoid using he or him a few times in a paragraph.

Writing close third person involves really getting into the characters’ heads. When reviewing a scene, a writer needs to consider whether all of the details coming through make sense given the character’s POV. If vital information needs to be relayed, it’s important to determine how the character will know or discover it before it can be presented for the reader, and to keep the author’s voice from sneaking into the narrative.

 

 

Friday Links: A Few of Publishing’s Many Faces

Happy Friday, everyone! This week flew by, which means I’m looking at a busy weekend of things I didn’t quite manage to fit into my week. I hope you all had a good one and that your weekend looks a little bit more relaxing than mine.

For this week’s links, I have a few interesting looks at the publishing industry from very different angles — writers new and experienced, a long-time reviewer, technical innovators, and more, along with a few other fun odds and ends. Together I hope they form an intriguing mosaic and illustrate the way that there is no single story when it comes to this industry. You have to find the journey and the space that works for you.

Have a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Moneyball for Book Publishers: A Detailed Look at How We Read – How e-books report back to publishers, and what they might do with the data.

24 Things No One Tells You about Book Publishing – Author Curtis Sittenfeld on her publishing experience.

The Rumpus Interview with Jessa Crispin – Crispin, the long-time publisher of Bookslut (which I am sad to say will be shutting down in May after 14 years), discusses her two recent books and her take on the publishing industry.

The Literary Fiction Drinking Game – From the pages of McSweeney’s. Because it was there, and I was amused.

A Fairytale for all Aspiring Writers – Amazon.com interviews Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest, about her “overnight” success.

2015 RT Award Winners – Romantic Times announces this year’s winners of their Reviewers’ Choice and Career Achievement Awards.

How to Beat Writer’s Block – An interesting article that might help you shake your story loose.

Friday Links: Trick-R-Treat Edition

Cat on Halloween

Happy Halloween! What a great way to kick off the weekend, with costumes and candy and maybe a scary book or movie. Do you have plans? Or are you hunkered down, watching the clock, waiting for midnight to strike so you can start on your NaNoWriMo project?

Whatever your intentions for the weekend, here are a few fun links to keep you distracted. I hope you find them entertaining and inspiring. Happy writing!

Bad Writing Advice Explained – Author Mary Robinette Kowal gives her take on some of the more contentious writing advice writers often hear.

William Gibson Riffs on Writing and the Future – The master sf author shares a few thoughts.

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free – Cory Doctorow’s keynote speech from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference this past weekend.

Digging Ditches or Casting Spells:On Magic in Writing – Chuck Wendig’s keynote speech from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference this past weekend.

How to Assemble an Ensemble: Team-Building for Writers – How to create an ensemble cast for your WIP.

On Depression, Isolation, and a Creative Life

In light of the sad loss of actor/comic Robin Williams yesterday, the internet has been flooded with all sorts of information about depression, including many calls for people to seek help if they need it. This is wonderful and important, but I feel like this is also the sort of thing that happens whenever a public figure commits suicide or announces a history of depression, and what we truly need is a more ongoing openness in the face of this illness. People don’t only need to seek help the week someone else succumbs to their own depression; they need to feel able to talk to someone whenever they need the assistance. And this is particularly important for anyone suffering from depression in a void.

There have been suggestions that creative types — writers, actors, artists, etc. — are more prone to depression because they are more sensitive or their work requires them to mine their demons or for whatever other reason. Maybe this is true, but I suspect not. All sorts of people suffer from depression — far more than you might suspect — and I don’t believe it has anything to do with what they’ve chosen for a career. It’s an illness, not a side effect.

However, many creatives spend time isolated — writers or artists working alone, actors with down time between parts — and so I think they sometimes have (or feel they have) less of a support system than someone with an office filled with coworkers. The same is true of people who live alone, travel alone frequently for business, and so on. Depression isolates a person all by itself, making it difficult to reach out for assistance for so many reasons, and so if that person is also isolated in reality, they have even less of a chance of seeking help from someone.

So yes, please reach out if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal, even if it’s only a fleeting thought. The suicide prevention lifeline in the U.S. is 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and I’m certain there are similar helplines in other countries. The only way to find a solution to your problems, no matter how impossible they seem, is to remain in the game.

But for those of you who know people who might be depressed, please make an effort to reach out to them. You can’t fix them or cure them or tell them much that will register, because a depressed person’s brain will filter your words and hear what they believe rather than what you say. But, what you can do is remind them that you are there for them and that they have a support system. Check in just because you care. Be present in their lives so that, even when their brains are insisting they are alone, some small part of them might still realize that you want them in your life.

Friday Links

TGIF! This holiday season is hectic for everyone. In the publishing world, we’re all scrambling to get things done before people vanish into their vacation fogs — contracts signed, payments issued, and so on. It’s a massive clearing-the-decks mode.

However, everyone needs a bit of a break now and then, and so I’ve got this week’s links to distract you, if just for a few minutes. Beyond that, I hope you’re all getting your daily writing time in for the December Writing Challenge, and that the weekend treats you right. Enjoy!

Snobs Kill Books – An interesting perspective on the ongoing war between literature and everything else.

Personal Penguin – Penguin Books’ little helper to assist you in finding the perfect books for the folks on your shopping list.

The Rise of the Unreliable Narrator in YA Lit – Includes some good examples.

In the Greenwood by Mari Ness – Tor.com’s latest short fiction offering.

Mandela, My Countryman – Writer Nadine Gordimer on the late leader.

Knight Agency iGiveaway

‘Tis the season for giving, but it’s awfully nice to receive as well. And winning something can be even more fun!

The Knight Agency is hosting a fabulous iGiveaway this holiday season. One lucky winner will take home a brand new iPad 2, along with up to 13 free e-books from TKA authors to start loading up that lovely new electronic toy.

For complete information, check out the official contest page. This contest is open to U.S. residents age fourteen and up. Good luck!