Friday, October 26, 2012

Follow Friday - Alchemists Didn't Know That the Atomic Number of Lead Is 82

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Carmen Jenner and The Y.A. Bookworm Blogger.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What writing device or trick most irritates you when reading a book? For example, if an author employs an omnipotent narrator that is sometimes considered bad form.

I don't think it is a writing "trick" but nothing irritates me more than a weakly or poorly defined viewpoint. If you are going to use omniscient third person to tell your story, that's fine, but stick with that. If you are going to use limited first person, that's fine too, but don't shift to omniscient third person in the middle of a book for no reason. If you are going to use a shifting viewpoint character like Robert A. Heinlein does in The Number of the Beast, that's fine too, but don't shift viewpoints in the middle of a paragraph. If you are going to tell your story in the first person, that's fine as well, but don't hop out to third person for a chapter, and then hop back in because you don't want the reader knowing what the viewpoint character knows. If your story depends upon the reader not knowing what the viewpoint character knows, or knowing things the viewpoint character doesn't, then first person is the wrong viewpoint for your story.

That doesn't mean you can't have multiple viewpoint characters in a story. A.S. King rotates between a teenage girl, her father, a dead boy, and a pagoda as chosen narrative viewpoints in Please Ignore Vera Dietz (read review), and she turned out a brilliant book by doing so. But she used the shifting viewpoint intentionally, and skillfully, not haphazardly and without thought. And that is one of the critical elements of a good book, and why executing this element badly annoys me so much.

Go to subsequent Follow Friday: On Old Televisions 83 Was the Highest UHF Channel

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  1. I enjoy multiple POV's only if they are done well like George R R Martin does in A Song of Ice and Fire series. Each chapter is from the viewpoint of different characters, clearly pointed out. But I agree, when it switches back and for without letting the reader know it gets so frustrating and confusing!

    Old follower :)
    Becca @ Lost in Thought

  2. I love AS King! Vera King is such a good book!

    I agree that you need to be really intentional with POV.

    My follow friday! Please visit!

  3. I completely agree, and have been noticing this problem as I read more inexperienced writing. Too often inexperienced authors will shift around whenever it is convenient to explain something and its just freaking lazy.

    Old follower :) Here's my FF:

  4. @beccabooklover: I agree, a book in which an author intentionally uses multiple points of view as a vehicle for telling a story can be very effective and entertaining.

    That is, of course, not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is an author who writes in first person for thirty pages, moves without warning to third person omniscient for a paragraph so they can explain a plot point, and then shifts back to first person like nothing happened.

  5. @veela-valoom: I love A.S. King. I need to get her two most recent books and read them soon.

  6. @Anya: It does seem to be a trait common to many inexperienced writers. I think that this sort of thing is why writers need good editors and good test readers so that they can correct issues like this.

    Sadly, in a world in which so many writers self-publish, it seems like this sort of rigorous evaluation is not being done for many new writers.