Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trunk novels

Does every writer have one? The book they love to death themselves, but know isn't working in some way or another? That first book you threw yourself into as a young, clueless writer with no idea what you were letting yourself in for? I have two of these beasts mouldering away in the back of my hard-drive. One, the first complete novel I ever wrote, makes my teeth clench when I read over it now, my stomach turn over. I was so BAD! Yet, the idea behind it is still intriguing. And I do still like my character's voice. I keep toying with the idea of reworking it, but it just feels like too much work.

The other is Holding It Together, a book I've been working on since I was 13 years old. That's a long time. A REALLY long time. It has been through so many transformations and changes over the years that it is barely recognizable as being the same book I managed to churn out two thirds of while at high school. It's spent long periods of time in bottom drawers or being dragged from flat to flat in water-damaged school exercise books. I even found a folder of pages I must have written while working as a chef, all on the back of napkins.

So I've been working on this book for a LONG time. And it's still not done. I'm beginning to think it never will be. I think it may be that book I go back to time and time again, tweaking a bit here and there, toying with motivations, voices, perspectives, and other bits and pieces. But I doubt I'll ever be truly happy with it. I wrote it initially as third person omniscient, and that is still the way I feel it works best, even now that I have it as two alternating first person perspectives. My critique groups disagreed, but I can't help wondering if that was a knee-jerk reaction, everyone seeming so down on third person omniscient. Honestly, I can't see why anyone would choose to write in third person unless it was to be omniscient. Otherwise, first person is so much more intimate.

I bet a lot of people are going to disagree with me here. Go ahead.

And don't forget Cassandra's contest! Only 9 days left to enter.


  1. I love third person omniscient. It's great for the big hulking epic novels I adore. But there's still always a one-person focus per scene. One person's head, one person's inner thoughts. There can be many scenes in a chapter though. That kind of thing works best when there's 5-6 main characters in a novel and they're in different locations. If the focus is on one person per scene, the reader gets to know that one better, and becomes more attached/invested. If the narrator spills everyone's thoughts, there's no star, no character's special, and the reader cares less about them.

  2. That's a good way of looking at it. In HIT, I liked having each of their perspectives on a scene, because they're all different people, and see the same event in different ways. By changing to only 2 perspectives, I feel like I lost something...

  3. I totally agree with you about third person. POV has to be a conscious choice and there has to be a reason for using either first or third person. I also agree that too many people have a knee-jerk reaction to omniscient and if it's done right, there's nothing wrong with it.

    But...that's totally just me.

    Oh, and I have one of those stories too. It's gone through so many iterations since high school that it's not even the same story any more, and I still can't get it right. And I still want to go back and write the original again ^_^

  4. I blush when I read my very first novel. I would have to re-write the whole thing from scratch. Not sure if I want to. I'd rather consider it as a learning experience and start with something fresh, now that I know a bit more about writing.

    As a reader, I like to identify with one or two characters, although some of my favorite books have more POVs than I can count. It depends how it's done. If done well, multiple POVs can add to the story, although it may be frowned upon by editors and hard to publish later on.