My response to Cambria's guest post here is on her blog at: Unlocked Diary. Go there to see hit and make sure you hit the follow buttons!
The Making of a Novel.
My bud Splitter was gracious enough to invite my babbling crazy self over here to his fabulous blog for a guest post on writing. Why would he do that? Because like him, I am a writer and because I have a lot of opinions that I like to tell people about. Ha ha.
A little about me: (just so you know my opinions might actually have some background to them.) My name is Cambria Hebert and my debut novel, Masquerade, comes out December 16, 2011. It’s a young adult paranormal book. I also have a prequel to Masquerade (a short story) coming out November 18 called Before. And if that isn’t enough I have yet another short story coming out November 23 called Whiteout.
My journey through writing has been everywhere from smooth to chaos and everything in between. When I first started writing with the intent of publishing I had no idea the amount of work and time that it would take. It took me almost 3 years to find a publisher – yes, I chose to go traditional. But no – I couldn’t get a deal with one of the Big Boys.
Note: Big Boys = no time for no names like me. LOL.
I couldn’t find an agent either. I have about 100 rejections all with the word NO resonating through them. But it didn’t deter me. It made me mad and I kept trying. Lol.
I received a deal 6 months after submitting to Otherworld Publications a small publisher out of KY. From there it’s been a whirlwind of marketing, editing and networking. My advice to any writer who plans to be published whether its self or traditionally: start networking NOW. Don’t wait til your book is published. Don’t wait til you have a deal. Start talking to people, start being friends and care about others around you. Draw them into conversation and encourage them. It pays back in so many ways and you know what? It makes you feel good. Because being good to others – knowing that you made someone else smile is way better than just one sale. But the real point here is that – if people like you and genuinely care about you – they will be interested in your writing.
But what about the actual writing? What goes into that? A LOT. It’s not just naming some characters and slapping some sentences on the page. A writer has to build a whole world – a world that entices someone to stay, characters that the reader either identifies with or is so interested in why they are different from them. You have to have action and plot and believability.
Splitter asked me a few specific questions about my writing that I thought I would answer here because maybe others would wonder about as well.
The first, Why did I choose to right about someone who is disfigured?
In Masquerade the main character is disfigured on the left side of her face. She is sixteen. She hates to look in the mirror and everyone calls her a freak. Her life is literally split in half. Now and Before. She can’t remember what happened to her and she is haunted by not knowing. I wrote about a disfigured girl for a few reasons. One being that I thought people might identify with her. Sounds a little silly because not many are horribly disfigured right? Well, no. But I know a ton of people who get up every day and don’t like what they see in the mirror. I know some people who just try to get through the day. And what about those people that DO have some kind of disfigurement? Maybe they would like to read about someone like them. (note: Heven is just a character – I don’t claim to know what it must be like to be disfigured) I think as a whole people get tired of reading about a main character that is perfect and beautiful and has it all. That’s not very identifiable because no one is perfect (except for me of course. LOL). There is (in my opinion) a lot of room for growth in a character that starts out in a low place and gradually begins to realize that they might be more than they thought.
The second question Splitter asked me about was writing a novel with POV shifts. That’s point of view. My novel is written in First Person. To me, I can’t imagine writing any other way. Writing in first person really gives the writer and the reader a chance to get to know the character. When I write in first person I put myself in the characters head and write as them. Really, it’s a nice break from my own internal dialogue…. I can be a lot to handle sometimes – even for myself. LOL.
Masquerade has 4 POV shifts. Yes, it is A LOT. I didn’t set out to write it that way. It evolved. The first draft was all Heven with no other POV shifts. Then as I was reading it I thought… this needs something. It needs more. Then I came up with The Hate and The Hope. Two unidentified personalities in the book that the reader gets glimpses of. They are strong personalities – strong characters - but the reader doesn’t know who they are until halfway through. I think as you can tell from their names… one is good and one isn’t. Complete opposites. How did I manage that? I wrote all of The Hate scenes first. I slipped into that ‘bad’ personality and really asked myself what my version of heinous was – what someone in that position would do and say and I wrote it all out. I found the places to insert the scenes (which are short – no more than one page) and I wrote. Then I went back to those Hate scenes and I followed them with a Hope one. Something that pretty much went against The Hate. So I stayed “in character” with each person I wrote. Then came Sam. He is a huge part of the book. My editor actually suggested writing a scene or two from his POV and it worked so well and added a whole other side to the story that you would never have gotten to see so we did it through the whole book. Every time I felt there was a need for more depth or explanation or action in came Sam. That’s when I realized it. I hadn’t known Sam at all. That really hit me in the face like a wet mop. How could I have written a book (actually the second in the series was done as well) and NOT know one of the main characters. I was appalled at myself. So I plowed into Sam’s head and really got to know him. I won’t lie – the first couple scenes I wrote of him were the hardest of the book. Sam has secrets… secrets and feelings he didn’t want even me to know…. But I went with it and I kept working. And Sam came alive.
I think writing in so many POV shifts was very challenging but so useful in really getting to the bones of the story. I was able to understand the story from every angle and not just see it through Heven’s eyes. I hope that it makes it a better – fuller story. Is it necessary for all books? Nope. Was it necessary for this one? I think so. Judge for yourself.
The challenging thing about POV shifts is making sure the book still flows and that the writing stays consistent. Just because the character is different doesn’t mean the writing necessarily will change. The writing is what sets the tone throughout the entire book. The characters are what give it flavor.
In short (yeah, cause I’m so good at being short, lol) writing is like cooking. A little bit of this, a little bit of that all thrown together make on great stew. Its finding the right mix of ingredients that make the story.
So that concludes my thoughts on writing today. J I would like to thank Splitter for having me by today to talk your ears off. What are your thoughts on POV shifts in books? Love em, hate em? Too distracting? Tell us how you feel.