christinex1001: (Default)
Just got around to reading Soulless today, as Jeeves had to get his oil changed and I needed something to read whilst waiting for his engine to become clean and shiny again.

Overall, I'm enjoying the book, but...

HEAD-HOPPING. Holy crap, head-hopping all over the place. Did this suddenly become okay again, and I just didn't get the memo? I'm trying to roll with it and pretend that the book is written that way because omniscient p.o.v. was totally kosher in Victorian literature, but still.

Sigh.

Tremendous doings this weekend, and I need to put up a proper picspam and write-up, but I actually had to do real work this afternoon after I got done being hubby's P.A. this morning, and I'm tired.

But I'm never too tired to bitch about p.o.v. issues. Heh.

christinex1001: (Default)
You and I are done. DONE.

OK, I tried. I tried to "research the market." I read contemporaries. I read historicals. I read paranormals. And out of all of them, I think I actually really liked two of them. And those two were both written by Jennifer Crusie.

I thought it would be a great fit. I mean, hey, I love to WRITE romance. So I figured reading it would be cake, even though up until that point I'd always been more of an SF/F person, with the occasional mystery or suspense novel thrown in for good measure (along with a good leavening of Jane Austen and my annual rereads of LOTR).

Um, no.

Maybe I've just bought (yes, BOUGHT...there's a chunk of change I'll never get back) a series of duds. But it seems to me that editorial standards for romance novels are just waaay lower than for books in other genres. Now, I'll admit that I'm seeing more mistakes in NY-pubbed books than I used to. Let's just chalk that up to the deplorable state of education in this country and the fact that copy editors probably aren't as good as they used to be. I know I'm overly picky because I used to be a copy editor. Fine.

But after finishing a completely shit-tastic paranormal (seriously, it had plot holes I could drive a Star Destroyer through, not to mention some of the flattest writing I've seen in a long time), I just plowed through Death Star, which a friend gave me last weekend. Everyone knows I'm a big ol' Imperial sympathizer, so it was great to see nuanced Imperial characters in profic, but what struck me more was how much better written that book was (and actually, the two Terminator novels I read as well, even though I really can't stand Alan Dean Foster) than any of the romance novels I'd sampled. And it was mass-market genre fiction, not exactly a novel that was trumpeted as the next Finnegan's Wake or something. I devoured that book, and all I had left was another paranormal, one that was a huge bestseller and one that a lot of people really seemed to love (I won't name names...there's no point, really). Anyway, I started it and wanted to claw my eyes out within the first 20 pages.

Dark, brooding, alpha hero? Check.

Total Mary Sue heroine with psychic powers, cascading raven hair, huge "sapphire" eyes, and a teeny-tiny waist? Check.

I was willing to overlook that. OK, some people like the overblown, purple approach to these things.

But then the author started head-hopping all over the place, and I threw the book away in disgust. I've ranted about that before, so I'll spare you the reruns, but seriously -- does NO ONE in the romance editorial field know what the hell third person limited is? It's not as if this book was purposely written in the omniscient p.o.v. I could have put up with that, even though it irritates the snot out of me. No, the author was in tight third person at the beginning and then started bouncing back and forth between the hero and heroine once they were actually in the same scene together. I felt like I was getting mental whiplash trying to keep up. Is he looking at her? Is she looking at him? I have no freakin' idea. Who am I supposed to be relating to in the scene? God knows, because I sure as hell didn't.

I'm sure there's some good stuff out there, and maybe I'll eat my words if I ever do end up publishing something in the romance genre. But at least my readers won't have to worry about me screwing up something as simple as p.o.v. Sheesh.

christinex1001: (Default)
We are actually having Real Weather! (This doesn't happen all that often in Southern California.) Thunder and lightning last night and fairly heavy rain that lasted almost two hours. Of course, the downside is that it's now humid...like, really, really humid, which is atypical for SoCal. I feel like I'm back in New Orleans. It's overcast, which is helping keep the heat down, but it is muy sticky out there. We may get more thunder and lightning and rain tonight. (I'm glad I forgot to water the lawn yesterday morning.)

I've decided I really don't like this haircut. I always do this to myself -- I let it grow out, decide it's boring and needs an update, get it cut, like it for about three days, and then start hating it and hoping it will grow out quickly. The problem is that my hair isn't perfectly straight, and it isn't curly. It has just enough wave to be temperamental (and let's not even get into the frizz factor with the humidity we're having right now). With a layered cut like this, the only thing that seems to work is blow-drying the snot out of it and then beating it into submission with a flat iron. It looks halfway decent then, but I really don't have a half-hour every day to devote to the subjugation of my annoying locks. Meh. I'm about to go out and buy some clip-in extensions. At least that way it will be longer.

Work is still sucking ass. Met with the interim director of Community Services (the previous guy retired a few weeks ago). He sympathizes with my situation but has to "analyze all the ramifications" of moving me from the Pit of Hell before he makes a decision. Heck, if he drags it out long enough, the little darlings will be back in school and we won't have an issue anymore (well, it will still suck in the late afternoons, but two hours of hell is a lot easier to deal with than six or seven). Needless to say, this has me quite depressed, and the hormones aren't helping, either.

Thanks to [profile] aronwy, I came across this great explanation of point of view from Jeff Gerke (aka Jefferson Scott, who apparently is a Christian speculative fiction author). I would never have come across the link without her referencing it in one of her own posts, because the chances of me going out and reading or writing Christian literature are roughly the same as me dyeing my hair blonde, wearing a pink suit, and selling Mary Kay door to door. However, he does have a lot of good writing tips. For those of you who care, I have his ruminations on p.o.v. behind the cut.

christinex1001: (Default)
Woo, I haven't posted in a while, have I? Probably just Too. Damn. Tired. Work is seriously sucking my will to live. I hear rumors that I am going to be moved out of the Pit of Hell (aka the Teen Center), but frankly, until my manager comes up to me and tells me to pack my bags, I'm not getting my hopes up. I've been screwed over too many times in the past.

However, I've been plugging away at the writing -- I've kept going with the contemporary I'm working on (I'm about 40K in), did a bunch of editing on Sympathy (I'm about  halfway through at this point), have been reading agents' and writers' blogs in an attempt to get more in touch with the insanity of the publishing world.

I also decided that since I'm trying to write romance, I should probably do a bit of research and actually, you know, read some.

Erik and I were at the mall this past weekend, and we went by a Borders outlet. I thought, Perfect opportunity! Discount books! I'd been schlepping around a few romance-oriented sites, so I'd gotten a little better acquainted with the names of several authors who seemed to be universally liked. I couldn't remember exact title recommendations, but I figured that should be OK. I got a Julie Garwood, a Julia Quinn, and a Nora Roberts (oh, and Cell by Stephen King, 'cause...post-apocalyptic zombies AND King? Count me in!).

Since I'm writing a contemporary, I figured I'd start with the Julie Garwood novel, Shadow Dance. It was actually contemporary romantic suspense, but still fine for my purposes. Or so I thought.

I should have done my research. Turns out the book was panned by quite a few people, and I could see why. A romance that felt perfunctory, huge plot holes, characters who seemed flat, implausible situations...oy. And the head-hopping! Jesus H. Christ, I thought I was going to get a whiplash from getting flung from one character's p.o.v. to another, almost paragraph by paragraph. But because I almost always finish everything I start, no matter how bad (the notable exception is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is not the fault of bad writing but characters I so didn't give a crap about that I knew I couldn't plow through another 400 pages of it, no matter how lauded the book might be), somehow I managed to finish Shadow Dance. I set it aside and plan to donate it to the Friends of the Library. If they're lucky they might be able to get a buck out of it.

Bloodied but unbowed, I decided to move on to the Nora Roberts book, Honest Illusions, after I got home from work today. La Nora seems to be just about universally loved, so I figured this would be a healing experience.

Wrong.

Now, I will admit that her prose is lovely, much more the sort of thing that appeals to me than what I found in Ms. Garwood's book. But what did I find?

More head-hopping! Again, from paragraph to paragraph. And sometimes involving more than two characters in one scene!

I struggled through two chapters and then put the book down. I don't know whether I'll be able to get through it or not.

What's the deal here? I really haven't encountered this phenomenon in the F&SF I've read -- is complete disregard for the current (and preferred, as far as I can tell) convention of a tight (limited) third person p.o.v. just fine in the romance field? I've got no problems with using the p.o.v. of more than one character in a novel, but please, can we stick with one person in each scene at least (I know one p.o.v. per chapter is probably too much to ask, and heck, I haven't always done it, esp. in my Star Wars fics). Is this funky omniscient p.o.v. de rigueur for romance, and I just didn't get the memo?

Guess I'll try the Julia Quinn tomorrow -- and I have a sneaking suspicion that the first instance of head-hopping is going to make that book hit the wall even harder than Billy Budd did when I was forced to read that P.O.S. back in high school....

Good thing I didn't pay full retail for any of this stuff. :-(
christinex1001: (Default)
I'm finding it somewhat amusing that although I write a ton of romance (or drama/adventure types of stories with very strong romantic elements), I really haven't read much "conventional" romance. I grew up reading historical romances and romantic suspense (Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, etc.) in addition to all the fantasy/sci-fi I devoured during junior high and high school, but straight-out romance pretty much bored me. Probably I read more of it when I was freelancing for a small publisher last summer than I have in my entire life (and boy, was it...unimpressive). Anyway....

My question relates to point of view. It seems that quite a few of the romance novels out there today tend to switch p.o.v. between the heroine and her love interest. I can see how in some cases that might work, but sometimes I don't really want to know what the guy is thinking. My own writing isn't much help here, since I've been all over the map -- straight first person (the Sarah-in-Middle-Earth stuff), alternating close third person (Dust of Empire/Empty Crowns), alternating first and third (No Return, The Overlooked), and close third person focusing on only one character (the Miele/Boba Fett fics, Quality of Mercy).

But what do you prefer? Or do you care, as long as you find the story involving? I'm about to start the second chapter of the book I just began working on (which is in close third person), and that would be a logical place to switch p.o.v. to the MMC (male main character). However, he's one of those rather "opaque" types I like to write so much, and I'm worried that seeing things from his p.o.v. would take away some of the mystery and tension.

Any advice? You guys have always been great at feedback, so your thoughts would be especially helpful. Thanks!

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September 2010

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