Monday, May 14, 2012

Is There A Fourth Wall In Writing?

So I am reading a book right now that is part of a mini series of a series, hope I didn’t lose you there. Anyway, so in this book I am learning some things that I find irritating in writing.  One major thing being, breaking the fourth wall.  The narrator of the book I am reading, which shall remain nameless, keeps having a conversation with the reader. The author’s favorite thing to do is ask the read rhetorical questions.  I really hate that.  I hate that I am engrossed in the story and I am feverishly reading and getting my mind in the heads of the characters and there situations, and then bam!, I am suddenly pulled out of the story with some “witty banter”. Why?

Now granted this book is from the 90s and it’s Young Adult, but I started to wonder if teenagers from that time found this interesting.  Then it hit me, umm duhhhh, I was a teenage from that time, lol.  And no, I didn’t find stuff like that interesting.  I had read other books from the series that were written by other author’s, and I assumed that all the authors got notes on how to narrate the story so they would all have the same feel, but none of the other books I read really broke that 4th wall.  Nope, they did something else I don’t like instead.  Foretelling.

Ok, so umm, I am reading through this book for a reason.  To find out what’s going to happen.  So why would you tell me about what is going to happen before I even get to the event?  And after reading some great advice blog posts about showing instead of telling a story, I can better understand what the advice meant. Along with the foretelling in these stories there is also a lot of telling in general.  I don’t want to be told how she is feeling.  I want her actions to speak words. I want to be pulled into her mind and if she beats the crap out of something because her boyfriend dumped her, I want to feel her rage by being shown it.  I don’t want to read, “Lily was really angry”.  No, just no.

And one last thing these books are becoming irritatingly know for are putting words into the characters’ mouths that would not normally be coming out of them. The characters in this book like to do the swears that are always cut off at just the right moment, or it is just said they swore. So I know these characters outside these books in another form of media and they are not the cursing kind, at least not to the extent in this book. It’s just this one author that I have seen has them cursing. Now I’m not against cursing, but only if it fits the character.  These words do not fit the characters at all.  I’m not sure if the books were going for shock value or if they were trying to use the “lingo” us kids were using back in the day, but it just failed to “impress”.  I have two more books with this author and if it weren’t for me wanting know how it ended I would have stopped at book one.

So yeah, I had to share my little thoughts with you all on that.  I’m glad to see that my way of reading is changing and I am finally learning what I do and don’t like about writing. I feel guilty not liking something about someone’s creation, but if I do become successful at becoming published, I know I will face the same sticky wrath of judgment.  So I might as well have my say.  Speaking of which, I may post some more book issues in the future, but I would like to let it be known that I won’t be telling the titles of any of the books in question simply because while I might not like a technique used by a writer it doesn’t mean I will bash them in a public forum like my blog.  I just want to share my reader’s observations in hopes that they may help someone else with their writing.

And on that note I am going to close for now. It’s almost 5 am and I’m super tired now. I want to read one more chapter, but it’s really late now. I’ll read more later.  And I will talk to you all later as well.  Be good until then.  Bye for now.

Barely able to keep her eyes open,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Vultures Are Out


So if you aren’t into writing or reading Young Adult novels, then you may not know about the novel “Purity” by Jackson Pearce that recently came out. Now let me first say I have not read the novel yet, but I know basically what it’s about. Here’s the info for those who don’t know about the novel.

A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.

Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.

Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.

So already we understand this is a novel about teenagers, virginity, and losing one’s virginity.  Throw in some doubtfulness about God and well you have a meal fit for the vultures.  And boy did they come out. In a fairly recent article on Jezebel, we learn more about the novel as well as read some great excerpts from the book.  But if you head on down to the comments section, you will see that the fangs, claws, beaks, what have you, have come out.

Now, here’s my ish.  The article was about the book and sharing the book with Jezebel readers. However, when I read the comments, a lot of them were picking on Jackson’s way of writing as well as her stance on not being in support of self publishing.  What do those have to do with the actual story? I can kind of understand some were upset that they didn’t know what they had read was a work of fiction and that ignited some of the hate, but others knew and trashed how it was written.  I thought the excerpts were well written and told the story well. The POV was from Shelby, which every time I hear this I giggle because my last name is Shelby. Anyway, like I said, we are in Shelby’s mind, so naturally the voice is going to be younger. Hello, the book is YOUNG ADULT, and yes I know that doesn’t mean the reader has to be a young adult, but you must approach the book like one.

I’m sure a lot of the commenters have not suffered loss and the pain of that loss.  I could clearly understand and believe that Shelby would be torn keeping a promise to her dying mother and wanting to please both her and her dad. She’s young and I can understand the fear of standing up to your dad, especially when you know he’s trying so hard and he wants what is best for you and you don’t want to hurt him. I don’t think those negative commenters could let their minds wrap around that.  Perhaps they were afraid to do so. Perhaps not experiencing loss caused them to not be able to. Who knows.  I believe that Jackson said she wrote this novel around the time that her grandfather passed away and that incident sort of helped her connect to the loss of a loved one.  Sorry if I butchered that, but I believe that is what she said in her live show.  But I mention this because I too have lost someone close to me, my brother, and so I could understand the giving a dying person their wish and trying to make it come true. And if it’s a person’s mother, even more so.

So this all got me thinking about my writing and how other people would approach it.  No matter what kind of story you write, there will be people who will hate it. There’s no getting around that.  I don’t know how Jackson handles the negativity from book reviews. I know that goes with the territory of putting yourself out there, and she seems to just be one brave cookie by nature, but I’m more of the kind to take things to heart. It got me wondering, can I handle being an author if it happens to me.  Could I handle such horrible things being said about me? So of course I had to research how other authors handle negative reviews and I found myself on another article by Mike Duran about how authors need thin skin.  Umm, author say what?

So after reading the article I totally got what Mike was saying. He basically says that if authors, or anyone for that matter, were to have thick skin and not let what others are saying getting in, they may be missing out on some great critique.  I’m always open for critique when it’s constructive, and I think that’s the case for a lot of people, but it’s those who want to be negative and hateful just because they can, that gets to me. I’ll all for listening to what others have to say and then making my choice about it later.  So having a thin skin isn’t so bad, I suppose.  But I think the “skin” issue has to be almost like a jacket. You put on the proper one when the “weather” calls for it. Thin for the constructive critiques and thick for the non-constructive critiques.

So I’m not an author, yet, but I have had my work critiqued before, and sometimes it’s brutal.  It can be hurtful, and I just had them on poems, short stories, and plays. I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to read such negative things on something I’d spent months on.  Of course the supporters far outweigh the non-supporters, but still I can’t imagine how authors get through it. I guess it really just comes down to a choice. You can choose to ignore what is being said and just keep on keeping on, or you can choose to let the harsh words consume you and let them ruin something you truly love and admire.  It all goes back to not writing a story for the masses, but writing a story that you truly love.  Odds are, if you love, others will too. And I think that’s just what Jackson has done and will continue to do. She writes the story she wants to read, and if we all jump on board great.  And if you don’t get on board…humm well I guess as long as you bought the book you are hating on, then she’ll find a way to deal with the hate, all the way to the bank baby. Winking smile

And on that awesome closing note, I shall bid you all farewell.  I am still writing and working on reading more.  I plan to update the blog soon to make it a little less Blogger default and more my style.  Hummm, my drawing skills, now that is something you will not want to miss. Open-mouthed smile  I’ll talk to you all next time.  Be good until then.  Bye for now.

Writing away,