Friday, October 31, 2014

A Point of View on Point of View

I've heard and read a lot about showing not telling, and various other no nos in writing. I've heard a lot about what it is exactly that constitutes good writing. I've taken care to try to at least consider the advice I've been given via the mountain of rejection letters I've received over the years, if not incorporate it into my work, but I reckon it all boils down to two things. I'll get to them later.

Many years ago I was given a story in a dream, or should I say an idea for a story. The idea was of a gorilla who lived underground with his human father. I wrote the story soon after the dream: a nearly 4000 word story titled Goyyou. (The name of the story and the lead character was given to me in the story as well.) The story was rejected by 7 editors before finding a friend and a home at Aphelion. One of the rejection letters stated that the point of view in the story was confusing.

I'm currently reading Rebellion by New York Times best selling author Nora Roberts. I'm not a huge fan of romance but I like to read it sometimes, and I'm enjoying this one. The reason I mention this book is that I am finding the point of view confusing. Roberts frequently switches between what Serena is thinking and feeling, and what Brigham is feeling and thinking. I did the same thing in Goyyou and was criticized for it, but apparently Roberts can do it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being critical, I'm just making a point about what is acceptable writing technique and what is not.

Of course the other possibility is that I don't know what I'm talking about it, and I don't understand point of view, or the difference between show and tell, or what it is exactly that constitutes good writing. I do know that that good writing is not necessarily popular writing, nor conversely, is popular writing good writing.

Without further ado, here are the two things I alluded to earlier. Firstly, good writers read a lot: not just in their genre, and not just popular books by well known authors, and not just good books (however they define them). Secondly, a book is good if a reader says it is good. If someone reads it and likes it, if they connect with it, if they tell their friends about it, then it's good.

What do you think makes a good book? What makes a good writer?

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