Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reading and Books Set in Cornwall

First I'm not sure if I've posted this before but it's certainly worthy doing so again. Over on Read_Warbler's blog, she has a wonderful list of books set in Cornwall here.

And this leads me on to reading of which I have been doing a fair bit- both novels and research. I tend not to read novels or more correctly more recent ones when I am writing a first draft for fear that the writer's voice or style will creep into my head and then into my work. However when I'm rewriting/editing it's different....so recently I have read some fabulous books - THE SOMNAMBULIST by Essie Fox, JUBILEE by Shelley Harris, HARNESSING PEACOCKS by Mary Wesley and a book I won't name. I won't name it because I didn't like it. I made me angry. I found the writing sloppy and the head hoping annoying and plot trite. It held me back on other books for a long time. I could only take about ten pages at a time and at one point I threw the book out of the bath and across the room. Yes, it made me that mad...

Now I know you are wondering what book and what writer but I won't say...you are also wondering why I persevered???? Well, this book has sold in the shed loads as have all this writer's books. I felt there must be something to learn from it aside from how not to head hop....

Let me jump away for a second...because in Harnessing Peacocks there is some head hopping but it didn't upset me - the changes were pretty well signalled without me having to go back a reread the paragraph to find out which head I was in...so let's just say that it was head hopping well done, but when rating the book on Goodreads I gave it a 4 even though I loved the story....

So I found myself wondering does head hopping bother most readers? Do they notice? Is it just a thing that pisses off writers like me? I have tried to remember my reading days pre-writing to see if I can remember if it upset me or pulled me out of the story....and I can't.

Let me just say...I love books with multiple points of view, but not in the same scene... or page but definitely not in the same paragraph....but I may be alone in this. Also I found it frustrating investing energy in minor characters whose head I was in for maybe three scenes then they were never heard from again (there has to be another way to get that information to the reader in my opinion)....enough said...

Now, I had to stop reading another book recently but not because it was bad...in fact it was the exact opposite....just too good and written in first person and that's what I'm trying to rewrite August Rock in so I'm afraid I will try and copy the excellence and fail....I will tell you this book though - Julie Cohen's THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. It will have a wait a bit more until I am sure of my voice in the first person...

On a final note...I was interviewed for radio here in Dubai regarding the upcoming Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature...and they asked my most feared question which I'll blog about tomorrow.

Oh and it's so exciting...on Monday evening I'm going to the Orion author party!!!! Will try and take pictures to share...just not sure what I'm going to wear yet and oh, what shoes to wear.....


11 comments:

Liz Harris said...

Julie brought a copy of her novel to the Reading Chapter lunch this week. I just love the cover and can't wait to read the book.

I totally agree with your comments about head-hopping and multi-viewpoints. I'm often amazed that this hasn't been picked up at the copy editing stage.

Liz X

liz fenwick said...

Liz - Julie's cover is lovely...a joyous burst of colour!

As it happens all the time in books I do wonder if head hopping is only an issue with writers reading and not readers reading...

lx

JO said...

A head-hopping book I just couldn't get on with - Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Good Squad. (I know, plenty of people think it's wonderful. It felt too schizophrenic to me.)

And one I loved - David Nicholls' One Day. (Only two heads, most of the time, but he flips from one to the other - and, once at least, in the same sentence. Yet it works. Maybe cos he has such great characters.)

liz fenwick said...

JO - haven't read Jennifer's book and now I think I'll give it a miss :-) I had forgotten about it in ONE DAY which says something...the story was so compelling that I looked past it...
lx

Nell Dixon said...

So long as my Cornish books don't annoy you, Liz. I don't think I'm guilty of headhopping though :)

liz fenwick said...

Nell, I adore books set in Cornwall...everyone uses the setting so differently yet it all evokes the place so well
lx

Captain Black said...

Putting aside the "don't do it" rule for a moment, head-hopping is only really a problem for me if I notice it. If I don't notice it, then such breaking of the rule isn't an issue. Of course, reading as a writer means I do notice it in a more critical way; I can't unlearn this skill.

I wonder if you genuinely didn't know whose PoV you were in, when reading the unnamed book, or were just reading in editing mode? For me, the former would mean the book truly is a bad one.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Five on Kirrin Island set in Cornwall?

liz fenwick said...

Capt. B - I didn't know and would have track back to find out...

Haven't read of the Blyton books...they weren't part of my childhood...so you are probably correct that it is...

lx

Cath said...

Thank you so much for the mention. I now feel I should seek out Five on Kirren Island as Blyton was part of my childhood and I still read her occasionally.

Deborah (Debs) Carr said...

Head-hopping drives me nuts and strangely enough I recently read one that drove me to distraction too.

Hope you have a great time at the Orion Party.

liz fenwick said...

Cath - the mention was a pleasure and it's such a great list! Let me know if you do read Five on Kirren Island...

Debs - pleased I am not alone! So excited about the Orion Party...feel like a big girl now :-)

lx