Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reading is Fundamental

And by that, I mean that reading is fundamental to learning. This is especially true for me because even when I’m not writing, there’s usually reading material within striking distance via my Kindle, Smartphone (hello Kindle app!) or a physical book to distract me from the “amnotwriting” portion of the program. My reading taste spans a broad range but a good story told in a compelling manner, no matter the genre, is always key.

My latest guilty pleasure came in the form of GETAWAY, the final story in uber-talented author Cara McKenna’s (she was nominated for a 2010 Golden Heart last year) Shivaree series. McKenna’s characters wrap themselves around you with their witty, sizzling and realistic dialogue and don’t get me started on the vivid settings. This isn’t a review of the series, though I do strongly recommend it and believe me, you won’t be disappointed. I wanted to talk about what the author does so masterfully and what I learned from it.

There are three main characters, Shane Broussard, Natalie Foster and Gabriel Marino-Doucet. I won’t tell you too much about the love triangle because you really should read it for yourself but I want to talk about the writing. Only two of these folks is allowed a point of view. Us writer types are always careful with the POV because it conveys the nuances of the story, gives texture to personality and sets the tone all through the eyes of that particular character. Shane and Natalie have something or rather someone in common (Gabriel) and the reader’s impression of Gabriel is entirely at the mercy of the other two. His hypnotic sensuality and eccentric, old world qualities spring to life in his interactions with the others, especially Shane and Natalie. But in the third tale, we learn that all may not be as it seems and our impression of Gabriel may have the tiniest flaw. But is this change, this alteration in thinking revealed from Gabriel’s point of view finally? No. It’s still told from the point of view of the other two characters. It’s such a skillful thing which achieves two very important pieces of the characters’ story arc—we get to see a change wrought in all of them while still receiving the emotional payoff deserved by the one who’s head we’ve been in all along. A change in perspective while still in the same point of view is achieved. I know that it happens all the time, especially in literary fiction where we only get one point of view because the character have to show their misapprehensions, misperceptions and mistakes before we can see how those things have changed them or others.

One of the best and most famous examples of this is Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE told exclusively from Elizabeth Bennett's point of view but we see her perception and ultimate reality of Mr. Darcy change from the inital first impressions right down to the end result where everything changes, all within the single perspective.

I know that I’m explaining this badly, but I’m so amazed and impressed that I just had to share. Cara McKenna is an excellent writer and I highly recommend you spend some time with her and her characters.


Marilyn Brant said...

Pamala, Cara's book sounds wonderful -- thank you for taking time to describe it! -- and given that I am fascinated by love triangles AND love watching a character gain perspective over the course of a novel, I know I'll love this book, too!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend ;).

Pamala Knight said...

Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn. Cara is an excellent writer and I hope you get a chance to read her stuff.

Hope you have fun or relaxing plans for the long weekend. See you soon!!

Caryn said...

I love to be reminded that reading really *is* important to writing. Then I feel better about reading so many books. And I'm like you - I always have to have a book close. In my case, I'm constantly syncing my Kindle and my iPod Touch so I can read whatever book I'm into. And when you're exercising there's nothing better than an audio book pouring through your headphones to help you forget what you're putting your body through!

Pamala Knight said...

Hey Caryn!

You're so right--there's nothing like a good audiobook or playlist to distract you from the burning while you're working out. Which I need to do more of most desperately, lol.

I am always reading, even sometimes when I should be writing ;-) but I choose to think of it as broadening my perspectives by indulging in the great works of other writers.

Thanks for stopping by!