The Consortium of the Curious

For those bemused by the bizarre and engrossed in the esoteric.

Tag: narration

Audio Challenge

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So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and a lot of this thinking is taking place in my car. 

 

As an experiment, I’ve turned my car stereo into a library. The rationale being that I can listen to the cadence of books during my commute. I know a lot of you out there–myself included–use music as inspiration while you write. Now I hope none of you are writing in your notebook while your driving, so I can assume you have a free ear. My challenge, therefore, is for all of you writery types out there to use your car stereos as writing coaches.

 

(If you don’t have a car stereo, I guess this post really isn’t for you, but perhaps you can come up with an analogous scenario.)

I’m approaching my month with this tactic and show no signs of slowing.

 

One word of caution:

I highly recommend listening to books that are not in the genre you’re choosing to write in. While this certainly isn’t a requirement, I find it immensely helpful. You, after all, don’t want to steal someone’s voice no matter how subconscious the theft might be. Furthermore, you don’t really run the risk of turning your cozy mystery into a hard-boiled thriller just by listening.

 

Oh and there’s more. I do have two suggestions for audio books.

 

Suggestion the first:

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Make sure to get the one narrated by Eric Conger; I can’t speak to any others.

This is a spinoff of John Sanford’s “Prey” series. If you like realistic settings, quirky characters, and a little bit of dark mystery, then this is totally for you. 

 

Suggestion the second:

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Make sure to get the one narrated by Christina Moore; again, I can’t speak to any others.

 

If you like completely unrealistic dialogue (but in a great way), quirky characters, and light mystery, then this is definitely for you. Also, I read the first three books and listened to the fourth on audio. I’ve not read any others since. The narrator is that good. In fact, I went back and started the series again solely by CD this time.

 

So that’s the challenge. Take it or leave it. But whatever you do, I’m going to continue because this is one challenge that is so easy it feels like I should have been doing this all of my life.

 

If you already do this, please offer some suggestions!

If you don’t and decide to try, please let me know how it goes!

 

And that’s the news from Lake Wobegone. 

My Two Cents on Point of View

This Sunday I’ve spent a pleasant afternoon around the blogosphere. 

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to write about today, but in my travels through cyberspace, I noticed a few new authors were having trouble with point of view. I decided I’d write about that.

 

Point of view is one of those issues in fiction that a lot of people don’t like talking about. You’ll hear advice that sounds like, “It needs to be told from whatever viewpoint it needs to be told from.” Well, isn’t that super helpful. You’ll also hear the phrase “head hopping” brandished about. More on this later.

 

Now, I’m not bashing the school of thought that says a story needs what it needs. I truly believe a story should be as long as it should be and all those other quips; however, when it comes to point of view for a first-time, or novice, writer, I think I can give a little more concrete advice.

As I’ve said before, I’ve seen a lot of first drafts. A lot. What I’ve found is that what those stories usually need is an author who doesn’t muddle up the narration. For this reason I’m going to recommend something you may find counter-intuitive.

 

Go with third person omniscient.

 

You’ll hear people say third person is harder to use than first person because it offers greater flexibility and therefore a greater chance of screwing up if you aren’t quite capable of handling a narrative yet.

I disagree.

 

Here’s why.

 

When a new author decides to write his or her book in first person, the process usually starts out great. The character is talking at you; you’re learning more about him or her; and it usually just feels right. Then, and take it from me it happens, the narrator gets taken over by the author. The character’s voice gets stifled by the writer. By the end of the book, the writer is just talking at us.

There’s also the danger that when that happens the first person narrator is going to start knowing other characters thoughts simply because the author and character are no longer two separate people. (Head hopping, anyone?)

 

Your characters should be a part of you, but not that much.

 

The beauty of third person is that you can narrate your story this way. That voice telling us what’s going on, that can be you!

Anyway those are my two cents on the subject, and I’ll close with this. First person is a great device. If you can use it and use it well, it can add a little something that third person can’t catch; however, if you’re new at this and looking for guidance, I strongly suggest third person. When they say it needs what it needs, what they’re really saying is that it needs a strong narrator. (To which we’ll all say, “Duh.”)

 

Let me know what you guys think. POV can be a polarizing topic, so let’s keep it civil!

 

 

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