A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl

Perception is Reality: How POV Shapes the World in Fiction

August 03, 2020 Megan O'Russell Season 1 Episode 37
A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Perception is Reality: How POV Shapes the World in Fiction
A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Perception is Reality: How POV Shapes the World in Fiction
Aug 03, 2020 Season 1 Episode 37
Megan O'Russell

First person? Third person? 

One perspective? A cast of characters each seeing the world their own way?

In this episode of A Book and A Dream, Megan O'Russell explores the many angles and choices an author must make when writing a book, and explains how the perfect strategy for one project may not work for the next series.

Show Notes Transcript

First person? Third person? 

One perspective? A cast of characters each seeing the world their own way?

In this episode of A Book and A Dream, Megan O'Russell explores the many angles and choices an author must make when writing a book, and explains how the perfect strategy for one project may not work for the next series.

A Book and A Dream - Episode 37.mp3

Megan: [00:00:02] Sometimes you just have to kill people to keep the plot moving on. It happens. It's horrible. So long to our favorite characters. We're really sorry you were lost along the way.


Announcement: [00:00:16] Welcome to A Book and A Dream with Megan O'Russell: an Author's Adventure in Writing, Reading, and Being an Epic Fangirl.


Megan: [00:00:28] Hello, my name is Megan O'Russell, and welcome to Episode 37 of A Book and A Dream.


Megan: [00:00:33] There are so many changes that happen in the writing process from one project to another. Now, right now, I've written 24 books. I have 18 of them published. So I've got a pretty good handle on what my writing process is. I know how my brain works. I know how much time it takes me to do certain things.


Megan: [00:00:57] But it really is such a little strange world to get into. And I wanted to give you a little bit of a closer peek behind the different processes that go into writing today.


Megan: [00:01:07] Now, if you are a writer yourself and you're like, let me take notes, you don't really need to take notes on this. This is a overview of diving into what it feels like to write different kinds of projects.


Megan: [00:01:19] So at the ground level of being an author, you sort of have two different parties. You have the plotters and the pantsers. So the plotters are the people who go into their trip around the world knowing every port, what restaurants they're stopping in, what museum tickets they have. They've got it all figured out. The pantsers are the people who get a one-way ticket to Europe and really hope for the best.


Megan: [00:01:40] There's also another way to look at it that George R.R. Martin popularized. You have architects and gardeners. So when they're plotting it out, architects know where all their walls are, how many rooms they're having, where the plumbing needs to go. They have the structure done. Gardeners are like, here's some fantasy seeds, let's put them in. And, you know, like what you planted, you know, you planted corn. You hope it grows. Or sometimes maybe it's not even as specific as corn. Maybe you're like, here's this flower seed. I wonder what color the blooms will be. So there are a lot of differences and there are some arguments between the two camps over which is faster and which is better and which makes the bestseller list more often. But that is beyond the scope of this speech, podcast, episode...you know what I'm talking about. Anyway. So those are where we sort of start to diverge in the process.


Megan: [00:02:32] I, for one, am the gardener type, but I'm like a gardener with a plan, like I know where I want my rose to go. And I know how much room I have for planting, I never start a book without knowing what my end game is. There may be some surprises in there. I might end up with some dead characters I thought we're going to make it through. But I know what my big end goal is. There are other people who would die if they had extra characters who just so happened to snuff it in the middle of a book when they weren't expecting it. But for me, that's sort of normal.


Megan: [00:03:04] Sometimes you just have to kill people to keep the plot moving on. It happens. It's horrible. So long to our favorite characters. We're really sorry you were lost along the way.


Megan: [00:03:13] Now, once we get into that, you have to decide what point of view you want with your book. There are some authors who will only ever write in the third person. There are some authors who only write in the first person. I do both, depending on the series and depending on what sort of perspective I really want to give the readers. So, for something like Bryant Adams, I just want you to go on a fantasy road trip through his brain and all of the madness that this poor kid who was never meant to be a wizarding hero, is forced to survive in order to save the world. Like it's a lot. It's a lot for him, and a lot of the humor and insight and really good Bryant-isms would be lost if it wasn't first person.


Megan: [00:04:01] So that is the advantage to that perspective. You get really deep. You really get to know the character. It's the same with Ena of Ilbrea. When you're in those books, you know her very intimately. She has no secrets from you. And so it's easier to give the readers a more heartbreaking story and a more humorous story. We can dive into those moments and niche down really quickly into those emotions.


[00:04:26] Now, third person point of view can also do that. And you get to do some more things that you can't in first person. Your lens is a little bit bigger, if you will. It's not just what the character sees. It's the things that are happening around them. And you can notice things that their character wouldn't notice. For example, Bryant Adams is never going to notice the brand of somebody's shoes. So I can't ever put in brand names of shoes with Bryant because he just wouldn't know. But if I were writing him in the third person, I could have fancy shoes and drop brand names. And it would be fine because I, as the narrator, would have that knowledge, even though Bryant doesn't. So that's a big difference between first person and third person.


Megan: [00:05:12] Now you get to go farther into third person. Because it's possible―you can do it with first person, too. But it's not like my favorite thing. I don't try that. Maybe someday, not currently my thing. We'll see how it goes―but in third person, you can have multiple points of view, so that gives you lots of different ways to look at a story, so that turns into the difference between Girl of Glass, which is third person but we only see Nola's point of view, or The Tethering where we have Jacob and Emilia's point of view. Now, the benefits to having those different perspectives is I can show more things.


Megan: [00:05:48] This is where plotting versus pantsing starts to get a little bit more complicated. So for things like Nola, I'm only ever going to see anything if Nola is in the room, if I want any action to happen, she has to be physically present or I have to do like a weird summary of what happened when she wasn't around. But that's like awkward. And we try to avoid that at all costs. But if you have things like Jacob and Emilia, you have to start thinking through things like, OK, they're both in the room. Whose perspective is going to give me more impact? Or, OK, I haven't had a chapter with Emilia in a while. What do I need to put in to make sure that the reader remembers what it feels like to be around her?


Megan: [00:06:34] Or I have two sets of action happening at one time. How do I layer them so they make sense to the audience? So as you can see, we're getting more complicated as we go. So then we get to the big guns, which is the Guilds of Ilbrea series. Inker and Crown is the book that is currently out. Now, for Inker and Crown, there are five different third person points of view in the book.


Megan: [00:07:02] It's a lot. It's a lot of different points of view, but I wanted to do that because each of the characters in the story really has their own story arc. There is no one character point of view that was just like thrown in for fun. So I could, like, have some weird stuff going on. Every character who has a point of view has it for a very specific reason. Now, this is where the plotting versus pantsing argument is kind of almost moot because I don't like plotting out every single little scene. I don't want to know exactly what happens and when.


Megan: [00:07:42] However, with a book like the Guilds of Ilbrea series, I kind of have to know every start and end moment for every character. And within that, I need to know where their timelines cross, where their scene cross, where their scenes cross, and where I need to give information to the reader so that they can have it when they need it later. So, quick example, this is not in the story because I do not believe in spoilers. So if you haven't read the book, don't worry, you're not missing anything. This is completely made up.


Megan: [00:08:14] Let's say that we had a character in that series who wanted to assassinate someone.


Megan: [00:08:22] Ok, so if we're seeing it from one point of view and we have them planning the assassination, but then we switch to another point of view where we need to set up, like, the room where the assassination is going to happen. So everyone sort of knows where the hidden little cranny where the assassin is hiding is. But then we also have to stack the assassin getting the weapon. So then you have to choose, like, which end of this other point of view am I putting that on? And then you have to have the actual death.


Megan: [00:08:49] So while you don't want to plot out the whole story, there's a lot more maneuvering of scenes and timelines that go into it. And it's kind of funny because right now I'm working on two different projects. I'm working on the final book in the Bryant Adams series, and I'm working on book two in the Guilds of Ilbrea series. So, on the one hand, I have Bryant's madcap, first person where it's really anything goes and you can go off on weird tangents about the importance of Broadway shows. And the hardest thing about writing Bryant, the thing that takes the most time, is figuring out the comedy. It's figuring out the beats and the moments where it's OK to be funny and the moments where you sort of need to drop the humor so that it'll actually matter when it comes back into the story, which is very time consuming.


Megan: [00:09:39] But the actual like sitting down and typing of Bryant is very, very quick because it is just him. It is just him talking and presenting himself to the audience. It is a very easy thing to get into and to get in the zone and just sort of go.


Megan: [00:09:57] On the other hand, I have the Guilds of Ilbrea series where, because there are so many overlapping essential storylines, I have no scenes to spare. Literally, there is not a scene, there is not a page, there is not a paragraph that's in there because I thought it was funny or because I thought it would be cute or because I wanted the reader to laugh. If it is in that book, it is in there because I needed it. Even if you can't see why now, even if you're like, why are you writing letters? Because I need you to see the letters. And so I have to figure out how to get the reader to have that reader privilege information that these things are happening so that I can use it later. So it's essentially playing a three-tiered chess game against myself.


Megan: [00:10:47] It's a lot.


Megan: [00:10:49] So there are two reasons behind me telling you all this. Well, three, we're going to go with three. I'm going to go with a solid three. The first reason is because, before I became an author eight years ago, something like that. I dunno. Time flies. Who knows? I've been inside for seven months. I don't even know anymore.


Megan: [00:11:08] I was an avid reader, and it would always fascinate me how different authors' brains worked and how, how could you come up with this and how could you do that? And the answer is it's different for every author. And within that, it's different for every project. Reason number two is for the authors out there, the writers who are just starting out and who are testing their wings, you are going to find a process. Don't tell yourself that process is the only way that works, because the more you write, the more you're going to realize that every project is different.


Megan: [00:11:39] And sometimes you're going to be writing Bryant and drinking your tea and having a great morning. And sometimes you're going to be working on Guilds of Ilbrea and you're going to be staring at your computer wide-eyed, going, where did I leave the knife? I need a knife, two knives, who can have the knife? We should have lots of knives. Knives are good.


Megan: [00:11:59] And it is OK to be on either end of that spectrum and to switch back and forth as the project demands.


Megan: [00:12:04] Also I kind of want to give a shout out to the lovely readers and reviewers and all the awesome people who are like, Yay, Inker and Crown! When his book two coming out?


Megan: [00:12:17] I set myself up for this. I know I did.


Megan: [00:12:19] I put out so many series so quickly, but the second book in the Guilds of Ilbrea series will be coming out in 2021. I will post a preorder for it this fall. But it is not going to be like my other books where it's like ah, give it two and a half months. It will be right there.


Megan: [00:12:37] No, I can't do it. It's so complicated. I'm writing the introduction and for each character, each point of view that comes back in, I have to pick the exact right moment in their particular place and time to reintroduce the story to their... the reader to their storyline, so that not only does it make sense with the flow from one book to the other, but reintroduces their story in an exciting place, but also sets up everything else I need to have in the book, but also keeps the timeline in order so that I'm not lying to people about where people are when.


Megan: [00:13:13] So it's going to be until next year, not like five years from now, not like George R.R. Martin. We're talking like early to mid-2021. So don't worry, it's not going to be forever. There will be a preorder put up this fall. I want to have a nice, pretty cover for everyone first and make sure that I'm really happy with my title. But the preorder is coming and the book is coming, I swear.


Megan: [00:13:34] And I am so grateful to all of you who are excited for the next book in the Guilds of Ilbrea series. But it is just so much more complicated than a lovely little Bryant humorous trip through magic in Manhattan. And I am working on Bryant, but I swear I am working on Guilds of Ilbrea every day, and I'm going to make it into the best possible product for you.


Megan: [00:13:56] So, for my writer friends out there, what is your method? Do you find first person to be easier or third person to be easier? For my readers out there? Is there one point of view that you love? Are you, like, in love with present tense first person? Which completely blows my mind, people who can do that, because I get like a paragraph into writing first person present tense and I just start drooling because I go, wow, my brain does not process that way, but I love reading it. So what is your preference? Do you love stories that really niche down like Ena of Ilbrea or do you love expansive casts like Guilds of Ilbrea? I would love to hear more about your writing preferences, your reading preferences, all of those different things.


Megan: [00:14:42] Also a very special kind of sneaky announcement, because we're really not talking about it yet. But if you happen to be an audiobook listener who doesn't happen to listen on Audible, if you were to type in Wrath and Wing or Girl of Glass into your preferred platform, you may just find something there for you in audio. Also, if you're an audio book person and you're like, pandemic's got me down, I don't have a lot of cash right now, did you know that you can actually request audiobooks through your library? It's true.


Megan: [00:15:15] So if you were like, I want to listen to it, but dollars man, ask your local librarian. And that actually goes for e-books and paperbacks too. Never feel like you're not supporting independent authors by asking at your local library by requesting the books through their programs. You absolutely are. There is no shame in that. Go to your library, ask for the audiobook, e-book, whatever it is, request it. Librarians might not always be willing to get it for you, but it's worth and ask. And it does help indie authors be seen by libraries. It helps them. It helps the librarians. It helps you.


Megan: [00:15:49] So go on, request it and maybe look up the audiobooks. You know, maybe if those are your platforms.


Megan: [00:15:57] And we'll have many more exciting announcements for audio coming up soon. But I have to wait for the wizards behind the Amazon audio platform to do their wizarding thing, which no one knows what it is. It's all very mysterious, and who knows how long it could take? So sometime, eventually, there will be lots of excitement. In the meantime, thank you so much for joining me.


Megan: [00:16:17] And yeah. What is your favorite story perspective? Till next time, buh-bye.