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"Chloe Harris" really is the pseudonym for two writers, Noelle and Barbra, who've joined forces to write intriguing and sexy stories. A quintessential eccentric southerner, Noelle seems to find a story in almost everything. Ever ambitious to change her stars, she has a degree in Communications. Barbra lives together with her cat ('Princess Mimi'), who isn't very happy that she is spending so much time on writing. But this folly of the living can opener with opposable thumbs is mostly tolerated.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Person Narration

by Barbra

A third person narration, where the author chooses a character to relate the story from this character’s limited field of vision, is undoubtedly most common. However, first person narration seems to be ever so popular these days. I wonder why. Not that I’m opposed to it; I can tolerate it. Well, let’s be honest about this: I read indiscriminately. But sometimes I’m amazed how much I enjoyed a first person narrative.

Personally, I prefer writing a third person narration as self-effacing author, restricted to the viewpoints of the H/H. In my opinion, it has its advantages: I keep a safe distance. Of course, I still need to be able to channel them, but when it comes to the most intimate experiences, for example, I can jump from one head to the other - eventually, mind you. I hate head-hopping, although I must admit I’d done it myself in the beginning.

To me, it seems when I read a first person narration I’m too close to that character. This is especially problematic with sexy scenes. Sometimes I just don’t want to be that close, you know? It’s like this character invades my private space no matter the action.

If that protagonist combines more adverse qualities than I can bear, I start to hate it and the book. This is especially dangerous with series. Anita Blake, for example, was never a very likable person, but she was a good detective, so I put up with her. Besides, she had the hottest vamp in town lusting after her, so I kept on reading. But when she still didn’t show any signs of personal growth (outside influences don’t count here, they’re passive, I want a character to change actively), just turned into a whining, pathetic slut who was constantly having even more pathetic sex, I got sick and tired of her.

The same applies to Rachel Morgan. She was okay in the beginning. There was enough room for (desperately needed) personal growth. But she remained the same tacky, vulgar and ignorant fool she’d been from the start and I couldn’t bear her faults any longer. Then the (in my opinion, mind you) strongest character in the series got killed and that was it for me.

Last weekend I read another first person narration that had me constantly teetering between “eww, gross” and “ahh, clever”.

My compliments to the author. You succeeded in holding my attention almost throughout the book. The end was a bit boring. Too smoothly, as if the author ran out of time and/or ideas. But the cover is Hot, with a capital H, don't you think?

It wasn’t one of the best stories I read, but I’ve read much, much worse. The intertextual markings were rather clumsy to the point of pseudo-intellectual. There are others who apply intertextuality much more elegantly. Emma Holly for one (brilliant as always - no worries, I won’t have a fan-girl moment now, although I’m quite tempted). Carrie Vaughn for another.

Carrie Vaughn. Another author who started a series in first-person narration. Her protagonist, a werewolf named Kitty, has evolved.

Outside influences trigger her changes; at first it seems she only adapts, but at the end of a book she’s always stronger than she was in the beginning.
See, that’s what I mean with personal growth!

Thank you, Ms. Vaughn, for this brilliant series. I can’t wait for “Kitty Raises Hell” to arrive. Should be one of these days soon... I hope... I pray!

But I’m digressing. Here’s another author whose first person narration blew my socks off: Mari Freeman.

Birthright was a marvelous read. And yes, I already told her all about it in an email!

The trailer for that book is also grrreat. Lookie:

On a whim I tried this book.

I must say, I was surprised that I thought it's an average read. Funny, but liked it even though the author got a few facts wrong and even though I should not have liked the end (it was too much of a white picket fence for me). But I did!

I’m very proud that I could diminish my stack of To-Be-Reads considerably. I’ll make my way through the rest in the months to come.

What do you think of first person narration? Do you like it? Why? Why not?

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