So, what brought you here?

My site meter has some snazzy features, one of which is this: if you googled to get here, it tells me what you typed in. Now most people who arrived here that way have typed in my name or the name of one of my books, or the blog name. Obviously enough.

But sometimes … these are some of the things that brought you here over the past couple of days:

“You live in the tropics”
Yep, I do. Not sure how that is going to help you, though.

“Skiving Isles”
Now that sounds like a lovely place to be. Especially when I am in the middle of a copy edit with a massively important deadline. Haven’t a clue where they are, though – if you find out, tell me. I need them.

Fair enough, that’s my daughter.

“Luck in being signed by a literary agent”
Takes more than luck, my friend…

“Koompassia excelsa”
For all of you looking blank, that’s a rainforest tree.

“Animal Farm, Chapter One”
Yet another student who wants the internet to write a term paper for them…Not sure how this site will help, though. Why don’t you go buy one of my books instead?

“What do you mix with temper paint for windows?”
I haven’t the faintest clue. Although I admit I rather like the juxtaposition of the words “temper” and “windows”. Especially when I am copy editing an MS that had its formatting thoroughly mucked up during the process of being emailed and opened by the publisher’s computer system…

“Tiderider 45′ yacht”
Nice. Wish someone would buy me a yacht.
But I do know where that comes from. “The Tainted” is partly about a tiderider who rides the tidal bores as a messenger…

“Wife 50”
Uh-oh. Mate, put up with it. She has to. And suggest she try HRT.

“Comments on book ending in trilogies”
Hey, the ending is the easy part to write…it’s the 1,500 previous pages that are a real pain.

“How to write in the first person”

“Traits of a good wife”
Boy, have you come to the wrong site. I can tell you something though: stop ironing your husband’s shirts, and he goes out and buys ones that don’t need ironing.

“Husband wearing wife’s stockings”
WTF?? I kid you not, that was what was googled, and it brought them here.
Can give you some advice, though, lady. If that’s the worst thing about your marriage, then you don’t have a problem. Tell him to go buy his own, or to pay for yours.
Or move to the tropics. We don’t wear stockings here.

And one last word: after the most recent entries, the most popular entry page for visitors is the post entitled “How to Beat Your Pregnant Wife”.
Dear readers, you are one helluva strange lot …


So, what brought you here? — 12 Comments

  1. ROTFL!!!!

    You made my day.

    One comment though: How to write in first person… Don’t? I mean – a lot of your books (maybe all, but I haven’t read all of them yet) are in first, multiple first even, and I admire this because I think this prejudice against first person really – well – sucks. Some stories are just better suited to first than to third.

  2. Thanks, Patty – I think the prejudice sucks too, and if I had ten dollars for every person who has started a sentence with, “Well, I don’t usually read books written in the first person, but yours were fabulous…” or something similar, I would have a bulging purse this month and next.

    I said “Don’t” because:
    1. It prejudices too many people against buying your book
    2. It is tough to write. Really, really tough. Especially hard not to end up with a too a linear story.

  3. Speaking of 1st person, I just got Dave Duncan’s new one … and it’s in 1st person. He’s one of my all time favourite authors, too …

    I’ll let you know how I get on!

    Seeing as how I’m one of those silly prejudiced people … *g*

    Except against you. And Robin Hobb. And a few select others.

  4. I don’t understand the prejudice, because there are plenty of good novels written in first. Off the top of my head (and aside from yours) I can think of novels by Isobelle Carmody and Maxine MacArthur I’ve read (and enjoyed) that are in first. I’ve written (and published) stories in first (one was even first person present tense). Who exactly are these prejudiced people? If a novel/short story grabs, does the POV make all that much of a difference?

    (and here I am, trying another weird experiment: a first/third mix)

  5. Yes, it does. Berating people for not enjoying a 1st person pov is like berating them for not enjoying roast turkey. It’s got nothing to do with being prejudiced. Some things work for you and some don’t. It’s irrelevant that you like it — the point is, not everybody does, and that doesn’t make them stupid or ignorant or deficient or bigoted. It means they have a different literary taste to yours.

    I don’t enjoy horror fiction. That does make me worthy of scorn to those who do?

    Please. Fiction is a really big tent, and there’s room for a wide variety of tastes. By all means heap scorn on those folk who don’t like 1st person and try to stop anyone writing it or reading as a result. But to be scornful of those who find they can’t relate to it? That’s not very broad minded or tolerant, is it.

  6. Once you get into the story, whether it’s written in first or third or omniscient really doesn’t make that much of a difference to me. So these readers see the first page and say ugh – first person – I’m not reading that. I’m not berating them, I just want to know who they are (I mean individuals – any responses out there – because when I’ve written in first no one has ever said that to me) and why? Not that I don’t recognise the many different types of readers (I’m not much of a horror fan either and I could give my reasons) but I’m trying to figure what it is about first person that can possibly deter a reader. Why does it make a differnce to some?

  7. It just does. It does make a difference. It imposes a set of criteria that are VERY stringent, and it takes a pretty damned good writer to be able to work around those and produced a story which holds together – your protagonist has to either be physically present at EVERY major plot point, or (s)he has to be a major-league eavesdropper and snitch, or (s)he is an annoying omniscient know-it-all who appears to be aware of simply everything and everyone by no visible means or method and winds up driving both him or herself and the reader insane with it.

    First person is *damned hard to do*.

    Of the books published that have been written in this wise, a handful might have hit JUST the right balance, and somehow work. Others… don’t.

    On the whole, Glenda is right.


  8. Karen, I don’t think anyone thinks people who don’t read first person are prejudiced people, just that they are prejudiced against the first person form. And that sucks for someone like me, because it means they don’t give those first-person books of mine a chance.

    There is another way you can get around the first-person omnipotence that Anghara mentions – you write it so that the narrator misses the point, or is rather dense about something, but the reader gets it, or the other characters in the book get it. Very difficult to do well, but it can be done. (Think of Blaze not realising just what Tor does for a living…)

    And you can use some kind of a framing format, as I did in Isles of Glory, or an outside commentary, or insertions of some kind – there are all kinds of sneaky ways of telling the story, but it does take a great deal of planning to get it right.

    Hobb wrote two trilogies using the same first person narrator, a remarkable achievement, but she could only do it because the main character was linked to an animal who could observe and hear what was going on elsewhere, because he worked for a spymaster, and because there were all these passageways in the castle with peepholes…

    The first person can work brilliantly in short stories, or in who-dunnits, where the “detective” and the reader will arrive at the solution more or less together.

  9. Or perhaps, not so much don’t, but be very selective as to when. As Glenda says, 1st person works particularly well in the crime/mystery field. In fact, bizarre as this is going to sound, I often prefer 1st person in my crime novels to 3rd person. But in my fantasy/sf? It’s almost always 3rd person preferred.

    And as Anghara says, it’s the most deceptively difficult form of writing — particularly at novel length. For some reason it looks easy, but it so isn’t. I hugely admire anyone who can write entire novels in 1st person because it’s so difficult — and if they manage to pull it off, well, sheesh! That’s genius.

    But for me, most people don’t. And I am sorry if I was a bit snippy, but every time someone gets hot under the collar about people who resist reading 1st person, I do feel like I’m being criticised for my personal preferences. OTOH, I absolutely understand Glenda’s frustrations, because she does a lovely job in Isles of Glory.


  10. In regards to people not liking first person, Karen’s absolutely correct. It all comes down to personal taste. Like, I just don’t understand how anyone could not love Gorillaz! Yet, somehow, those sad, un-enlightened folk do exist… 😉

    But, I do honestly believe there is a market for first person. Sadly, it just isn’t your more traditional fantasy. However, if you take a daring side step into the realm of ‘paranormal romance’, third person is very rare. In my attempt to write paranormal romance without the romance (or the sensual vampire or angst ridden were-animal-of-the-week, hence the creation of a new subgenre, supernatural action/adventure), I started in third person, but the story progressed in such a way that there was only ever the one POV, the main character. It just felt natural to change it to first person. The result is a more relaxed narration and a more sympathetic character.

    Personally, I think writing in first person is a good starting place. It really teaches you about POV. Too often, I read books with third person narrative that have an excessive amount of head hoping, and that really, really bugs me.

    And I don’t necessarily agree that for first person to work, the character has to be nosey or a know-it-all. They simply have to be in the thick of the conflict, though it does work better with a tight story, not your average epic-esk fantasy setting.

    I have no preference between first and third. I’ll read either with equal expectations.

    Whenever discussing first person narative, I always recommend “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger and I can now add the short story “Hair Shirt” in the anthology “Tremble” by Tobsha Learner. Both are in first person, but with multiple narrators and both are great reads.

    Cheers, Lisa.

  11. These were all very cool comments to get and a great discussion. The subject has interested me (in a non-prejudicial way) because I like POV experiments and I have never understood the reason behind the prejudice against first, seeing as in my view some stories just ask to be written in first. Horses for courses. Novels with only one POV whom we get to know intimately, or stories about people who spend a lot of time by themselves, where the storyline is fairly linear. To me, it would depend more on the type of story than the genre. Most novels are probably not suited to it and of course it’s limiting.

    For the record, I normally prefer to write in tight third, which seems to be the preferred form, but have had stories published in first and omni. I agree that people tend to have less of a problem with odd POV choices in short stories.

    But I do agree with Glenda. If you have to ask someone the question: how do I write in first person, the answer should be: don’t *grin*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.