Since I can remember, romance books have been written in third person (character described by narrator) past tense (action already happened):
“Oh, screw you, Burkett.” Reese Colton threw his cards down as the man across the table collected the two paper IOU’s along with a pile of money. Testosterone and laughter filled the fire station kitchen. “You all suck!” Reese said before draining the drink at his elbow.
Every once in awhile I’ve picked up a book where the author wrote in third person present tense (current action):
“Oh, screw you, Burkett.” Reese Colton throws his cards down as the man across the table collects the two paper IOU’s along with a pile of money. Testosterone and laughter fills the fire station kitchen. “You all suck!” Reese says before draining the drink at his elbow.
I’ve actually read a book like this. It was odd at the beginning, but then I got into the story and barely noticed the present tense.
But now, more and more books are being written in first person. One point of view. The whole story told by the main character — usually female. Lots of young adult stories like Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series is written this way as well as EL James’s “50 Shades” series. I even picked up a mystery recently that was in first person.
Some writers do this better than others. Of course it seems to matter less if the story pulls me in and I become totally engrossed. I don’t even notice that it’s a single narrator. But other times …
Yeeeah, there are a lot of books, especially romances, where I miss that other perspective. I love being in the hero’s head … not just the heroine’s interpretation of his actions … but the actual jesus-she-smells-good-and-that-dress-hugs-her-luscious-curves-in-all-the-right-places kind of thought process. Why do I like that? I think because it makes me fall in love with the hero even as he’s falling in love with the heroine. I want to know he’s so hot for her he can’t get her all the way upstairs to the bedroom before he presses her against the kitchen wall and shows her just how much she means to him.
And you know, it’s not always the hero. I love suspense stories. When an author writes well from the villan’s perspective, it helps me as a reader understand why s/he believes they are totally justified in kidnapping and torturing all the clarinet players in their high school marching band from thirty years ago. (No, that’s not a book, but it sure could make a very disturbed villan. LOL!)
But with everything that the masses say is trending — television, phone apps and twitter, it looks like more and more books are being written in first person and readers are not only buying them … they’re buying them in HUGE quantities. It makes me wonder if some of my favorite authors are going to go in that direction.
What do you think? Is this a passing fad or are first person stories going to become the norm for our reading pleasure?
Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to write a book? I mean getting from Once upon a time to They rode off into the sunset is not only a difficult process … doing it well takes a lot of brain energy! (Well, for me anyway.)
There are all kinds of people who believe they have a book in them. Very few sit down to actually give it a try. A smaller number of those who try ever get to the end. A small portion of those that finish actually edit their story and send it out or publish it themselves. That’s an itty bitty bit of the population who actually have books available to readers.
And there are hundreds of thousands of readers out there looking for their next book to read. When they’re surfing Amazon or B&N do you think they care if it was published through a big NY publisher, a small press or if it was self-published? Okay, yeah so some of them do, but there’s a huge majority of readers with kindles and nooks and iPhones (and a whole bunch of devices I know nothing about) who are downloading books onto these devices and all they really want is to be entertained for a few hours.
And if the readers don’t care how the book they’re reading got to be published … why would another author?
I’ve only been in this publishing world for 7 years. In the grand scheme of things I’m just a toddler. I’ve never written a manuscript long hand. I’ve never typed my manuscript on a typewriter and piled the accumulated pages. I’ve never worried if the print on my computer was set so there was exactly 250 words a page (because a publisher wanted to know how many pages a book would be in the print version). I’ve never gotten my edits through the mail with red editing marks on my printed manuscript. My “call” came in the form of an email. I even signed my first contract electronically.
But even in the short time period since I began this journey, publishing has changed.
When I published my first full novel with a digital only publisher, many writers (and Romance Writers of America) felt I wasn’t really published. I can’t tell you how many people looked down their nose at me even as I cranked out eight books in two years. It took years for many people to realize e-books were here to stay. I think it began right about the day that Oprah announced on her television show that she’d discovered a Kindle. Oh, well if Oprah said …
Yeeeeah, I’ve already been through an “us vs them” attitude.
And you know what? It’s starting all over again. Only this time it’s “traditional” publishing (meaning NY authors who have chosen to sign a contract with an advance and a print book) throwing stones at the self-published (also called indie-published) faction. Oh, and don’t get me wrong, the name calling, hair pulling and clawing is going both ways. There are some big name authors who have blog posts claiming all self-published authors put out unedited drivel with no entertainment value. There are indie authors claiming all traditionally published authors are literary snobs.
Let’s face it, with so many people reading, everyone feels there is crap on both sides of the publishing aisle. And the fact is … what one person sees as crap another sends to the top seller list. (50 Shades? Twilight? Hunger Games? Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?) There are authors that are auto-buys for me, but a friend would never pick up.
This whole thing is really dividing the author community and I just want to scream WHY? On the one hand authors are some of the most giving people I know. There have been many who have helped me when I didn’t understand the publishing process. Many who critiqued and taught and took time to point me in the right direction. But they can also be some of the most stubborn, judgmental people I know.
Just this week I put out a long post about all the roads to publishing a book. Do I care how someone gets their book published? No. Do I feel they’re only valid if their agent got them a six figure advance? No. (Though I will be just a taaaad envious for a little while.) Do I care if an author’s success came from books they self-published? No.(Though again with a short pause to entertain my envy that they just bought a new BMW with their last royalties.)
I’m really sick of people pointing fingers and being angry and screaming that one way is more right than another and saying mean things about other authors. Really? What right does someone have to tell another author what’s right for their writing career. They don’t. And I’m not even sure why they would want to spend the time trying.
I’m a scientist in my soul and a teacher at heart. I research and I share. I don’t judge. I answer questions when asked and support when needed. I’m not interested in taking sides. And I’m getting really tired of people who do.
***NOTE I guess I’m not alone. Check out this post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and this post by Dean Wesley Smith and an open letter by Anna Elliot. Guess LOTS of authors are tired of this finger pointing and name calling.
I don’t know if Hollywood is getting lazy or if there are just so many cineplexes with 8 and 10 movies running, but it seems like more and more books are being brought to the big screen. Of course it may be the phenomenal successes of the Harry Potter and the Twilight series that are fueling the frenzy. I’ve read a few of the books that have been made into movies and seen a few of the movies without reading the book. Since there’s always the question of whether the book is better than the movie or vice versa, I’m never sure which way I want to go. But let me just share a few of the book/movies that have come out recently or are soon to be released.
Water For Elephants
This is a movie I saw, but didn’t read the book. The movie was well done in that the violence toward human and animal is intimated, but done off-screen. I’m not sure how they handle it in the book, but even in writing, violence is very hard for me to handle. I enjoyed the movie, but the ladies sitting in front of me from a bookclub enjoyed the book so much more.
My mother read this book last summer and highly recommended it. And though it was on my TBR list, I hadn’t gotten around to it by the time the movie was released. My daughter and I saw it. I haven’t cried so much in a movie in a long time. What I liked best is the story of these african-american maids was told through the eyes of a caucasian author who is simply trying to share the trials and tribulations of their lives in a book she is writing. It is so well done and I have no doubt the author of the book, Kathryn Stockett based the stories on a lot of research. Thankfully, it’s interspersed with lots of humor and the movie is very enjoyable despite its difficult subject matter.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I read this book. Correction … I tried to read this book. But I was part of that 1% that just couldn’t get into it. And I did something I don’t usually do, I forced myself to keep reading, convinced that if so many people enjoyed it, surely I would get to the good parts. It never happened. I abandoned the book with a mere 50 pages left. Really, I couldn’t get through it. I will however, go and see the movie. I desperately want to know what the “mystery” was around the story. The missing girl? The murder? I’m not sure. I did read into it enough to know what happened (or didn’t happen) to the girl … yeah, well I figured that out the first time she was mentioned. Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy the movie, though my son already told me the ending stinks. His girlfriend, who loved the book, said it was true to the story, which is not surprising since there are two other books in this series.
I’ve been hearing so much about the book that when the trailer showed at a movie I was watching I knew it was time to check it out. I’m currently reading the book and the premise of 24 young people battling to death is intriguing. I’m only half way through, but since I can’t put it down, I expect to finish it in the next day or so. Since I’ve just admitted I don’t like violence, I’m wondering how the author will handle the visciousness that will be the killings. I really don’t want the heroine of the story to commit any horrible murders even if it is to save her life. Anyway, this is one of the few times I’m actually reading the book with the anticipation of seeing the movie.
One For The Money
This is another example of a genre I just couldn’t get into. I listened to one of Janet Evanovich’s stories on audio books, but wasn’t moved to read any others. There’s such a huge following for Stephanie Plum who find the books laugh-out-loud funny that I have no doubt I’ll drag Mr. Nina to the movie when it comes out. I’m sure it will translate well to the big screen.
So what about you? Do you enjoy book to movies? Are there any movies that you’ve seen or books that you’ve read that you would recommend?