I seem to do a lot of things in reverse. I mean, I wrote and published a few books in a genre I really knew not much about, then started reading for perspective.
I didn’t know much about craft beer and was certainly not a beer snob, until I was asked to help found a craft brewery.
I’m even approaching my writing career backwards, some might argue. I wrote and published and established a pretty strong author platform first and now I’m seeking an agent.
One of the other things I did backwards it would seem, is choose points of view.
Many first time authors start with themselves. That is to say, their protagonist is “me/I” in the “first person” point of view. Many, many best-seller block-busters are written this way. Lots of non-blockbuster romance novels are too, as are thrillers/mysteries as it can be argued that knowing what the protagonist knows all the way through leaves a lot for the imagination of the reader.
It’s also been argued that this is the easiest way to write a book, as you really only have to channel your inner “me,” be you a blushing virgin admiring a sadistic billionaire, a budding detective who loves to bake, or other equally exciting “you.” The reactions and responses of those around you are filtered only through your experience of them. You have to tell the reader what to think and feel based on what you think and feel.
I once stated, preemptively and prematurely, that I didn’t “like” books written in the first person. Turns out I just had not read any seriously good ones yet. I guess I was drawn to those written from multiple perspectives, with what I deemed as more complex and layered narratives, thanks to said multi-character points of view.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of head hopping. That makes me crazy as a reader and always has. And I had it utterly beaten out of me by several editors because it is, as they insisted to me, a “rookie mistake.” (I know there are several block-busting, best-selling authors who do this routinely.)
I wrote over 20 books in third person perspective but alternating. That is to say, at least two if not more characters’ perspectives were included but they were “He/she” in a sort of intimate way. I think some folks call this “deep point of view (POV).” Each person got their section so that there was no hopping around in heads, but their sections were about as close to “I/me” as I could get without actually going there.
But this year, I was challenged by a question: Do you have a “firefighter story” in you?
I did not, nor did I anticipate one formulating. But in the sneaky way that challenges affect me, one did.
And not only did I take on a completely new trope to me (both as a reader and author) I decided to go all “first person” on it. And boy did I learn a lot about how hard it really is to craft something layered and complex from “my” perspective only.
It was freeing in a way that had not anticipated it would be. It let “me” have all the reactions, describe all the scenes and other characters and situations without any serious concern about “their” perspective. I found myself diving deep into this person, Harriet Jane Terrance, in a way that I had never done with a character before (and I have a fair few characters in the Liz backlist). There are some who argue that I took too many liberties with her—made her that much more challenging, with too much baggage to ever be able to find happiness. But she does.
Or “I” did, as she and I evolved together in FireBrew, a 45,000 word novel that is part of the new INTO THE FLAMES anthology. (sorry, blatant plug but I am proud of this experiment and can’t help it!)
As “Jane” (or “Harriet” as her nemesis/love interest George insists on calling her that she claims to hate), I was able to try my hand at crafting a narrative that literally revolved around one person. George’s perspective was not my worry or concern. Nor was her best friends’ or any of her co-workers’. The story unfolded as she described it and it was not as limiting as I once dismissed first person POV to be.
I am still not a big fan of the “oh my look what big…. eyes you have” narrative that is very popular thanks to several international best selling phenoms are written. But I have dropped my 1st person POV snobbery completely now that I’ve given it a shot and found it both soothing and cathartic.
Your takeaway this week Liz Acolytes and Others: There are no rules about who’s head you inhabit as an author. Write what feels right and from the perspective of person you find most challenging sometimes. If nothing else, it’s a great exercise in breaking yourself out of a rut or a well-worn, boring groove.
Here’s a confession: I’m even contemplating something sneakily paranormal in the coming months and for those of you who REALLY know me, you know that’s the next Liz Rookie Mental Barrier to be breached!
Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction hybrid, “Romance. Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.
Jane Terrance has her life in perfect order. Great job selling commercial real estate in Detroit—0ne of the hottest markets in the U.S. Cool condo in Midtown with her best friend. Plenty of her own money plus complete control over all aspects of her active love life—Including a sexy, no-strings-attached boss.
When she meets a new client at an abandoned fire station, figuring him for one more greedy investor, she realizes just how tenuous that control truly is.
Trey Lattimer seems a little young to be retired from firefighting, and at first, he’s just another guy to conquer. But the harder she tries, the more out of reach he gets until his continued presence does nothing but wreak havoc on her carefully constructed world.
Fate throws them together. But the horrific memory of a fiery disaster could tear them apart.
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