Friday, September 11, 2009

Waiting for the other shoe to drop...

Wow, there are some lovely reviews of The Last Stormlord coming in, and great emails too. I am humbled.

Here's what Kat over at the (largely romance) review site "Book Thingo"* had to say:

"It’s been a long time since I read a fantasy novel in which everything about the world felt original and so utterly fascinating that even 640 pages didn’t seem enough. I suppose wishing for a stronger love story would be asking for too much." *g*

The bolding is hers, the grin is mine.

She finished by saying:

"The uniqueness of the world that Larke creates is more than enough reason to read The Last Stormlord. Coupled with excellent writing and a compelling plot, this book has been a wonderful introduction to a new-to-me author. I’m definitely putting this series on my autobuy list."

In between - in a thoughtful analysis of the story - she touches on a problem faced by every writer who has a similarly structured tale to tell:
"...because the author moves between at least 3 completely different settings, I felt yanked out of the story at each transition."

The book does cover a lot of ground and there are half a dozen main characters who are not in the same place at the same time. G.R.R.Martin deals with this in his Song of Fire and Ice series by heading each chapter with the name of the character that each particular chapter focuses on. My book is not quite so complex, but I help the reader out anyway, by telling them at the head of each chapter just where the action in that chapter is located.

However, would it be better to have, say, ten chapters relating the tale of one character A, and then the next ten tell the story of character B, up to the point where he intersects with A? And what about C and D? I did think about it, and decided that was not the way to go.

You, the reader, would end up jumping backwards and forwards in time as well as place. And at some point I would still have to wrench you away from character A, but in this senario, I would have to take you back in time as well, and deal with character B's life starting some years earlier. I felt it would be hopelessly confusing, and that the momentous events occurring and affecting everyone at the same time would lose impact.

However, I agree with the reviewer, my way does have the disadvantage of jerking the reader out of the storyline of character A and dumping them with B after only a chapter or two, then just when they are immersed in character B, the story changes to character C.

Over at the Orbit UK site here, Jeff Somers, author of the Eternal Prison, has amusing an slide show about literary criticism. No matter how well you write, there's still someone who thinks your book sucks. He's right - it is a universal truth, alas - no book on earth is going to please everyone.

I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but somewhere there is someone who will hate The Last Stormlord and who will tell me so. In the meantime, I am wallowing in the warm glow of appreciative readers. Thanks to everyone, especially to those of you I have never met on or offline, who emailed or twittered or wrote reviews or facebooked...it means a lot to this very solitary writer.

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*click here to read the whole thing.
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3 comments:

mikandra said...

I totally agree with you on the POV characters. It could be that she is more accustomed to reading romance, which has fewer POV characters. I am writing a book with seven POV characters, and yanking a reader out of a storyline is always a risk, but it's better to do that than mixing up timelines. POV switching is fairly standard practice for epic fantasy anyway.

Jo said...

Yes, it always is a bit of a jerk when you are reading one POV and then switch to another, however, many authors do it. I have read books written the other way with a whole section on one character, then on another, etc. and they all meet up at the end. I don't think it works any better the same thing still happens. Enjoy your present warm and fuzzy feelings and I do hope you won't find someone who doesn't like the book.

Glenda Larke said...

I think you're right about the reason, Mikandra. Romance does have to keep very close to the PoV of its two main characters, of course.