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Writing Advice #52: Fixing POV

Recently, a young writer commented on the original POV entry of this series, saying this:

I’m writing a full length novel and wanted to ask for some of your advice. I always get confused about POV, I wrote this book half way in the 1st POV and now I feel like I should’ve written it in 3rd POV. I’m confused. I’ve spent six months writing 18 chapters, and now I have to rewrite everything. Have you ever come across such a problem? And how do you tackle it?

I’ve never actually encountered this issue. I’ve had a situation where I had to change tense — wrote something in present tense, decided it was better in past tense — but I’ve never goofed on the POV before. So, truly, I’m not sure how much help I’m going to be.

When I had to do that tense switcheroo, though, here’s how I approached it: I did one chapter. Just one. And then I sat on it for a couple of days. And then I went through it again, just to make sure. Because it’s tempting to look at a change like this as a hard slog that is best done with your head down, charging straight ahead ’til the end.

I disagree. Big changes like this are best done piecemeal, with plenty of time to reconsider. You may think changing from first person to third makes all the sense in the world right now, but when it’s done, you may find you think differently. Rather than do all of that work on all eighteen chapters, do one. Then really ponder it.

Consider, too, that changing from first to third isn’t merely about switching all of your Is and mes into s/hes and her/hims. First person has a different set of requirements than third. Sure, go through quickly and change the pronouns, but then really take that chapter apart and think about what you’ve gained and what you’ve lost in the conversion. You’ll be tempted to change as little as possible, but I encourage you to dig deep.

I guess what I’m saying is this: Don’t despair. Don’t look at this as a failure. Look at it as an opportunity to improve your book and to improve your ability to examine your own work critically. It’s a chance to reinvigorate your story. The lessons you’ll learn in this process will carry forward into every other story you write, so don’t look at it as “This is slowing me down.” Look at it as, “This is preparing me for the future.”

Good luck!

Two Interviews for The Secret Sea

The Secret Sea coverTwo interviews have been posted for The Secret Sea, so I figured I’d point ’em out to you…

First up is SciFiChick.com, where I say stuff like:

It’s about family and friendship and what survives death and how far you’d be willing to go to save someone you love…and what could make you not save them.

Then we have the Teen Librarian Toolbox, where I say stuff like:

…their worst nightmare is a super-smart, fiercely independent 12-year-old girl!

Check ’em out!

SLJ on The Secret Sea

The Secret Sea coverJust in time for launch day, School Library Journal offers up its take on The Secret Sea! (Once again, I’ve redacted a bit for spoiler purposes. Emphasis mine.)

Terrifying visions of subway stations flooded by ocean water. A somnambulistic journey to the World Trade Center. Things are definitely getting weirder by the day for Zak Killian, and that’s before he uncovers the secret of [SPOILER]. That reveal leads Zak and his best friends Khalid and Moira into an alternate universe where Zak can [SPOILER]. Lyga creates a compelling and impressively fleshed out alternate universe; sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian elements feature throughout, from mysterious wild magic to the glowing electroleum power source. A subplot involving the brutal repression of women by means of a legal system very similar to our own slavery adds depth to the comparison of the two worlds. Though upper–middle grade through young adult readers will appreciate these elements, the narrative’s success ultimately relies on its compelling adventures and character development. However, it is somewhat disappointing that readers have to wait roughly about 100 pages to cross into the alternate universe proper. VERDICT Though it might start a little slow some for some, this work ultimately delivers the sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian goods and will draw in middle schoolers with its impressive world-building. A strong choice for many young adult and upper–middle grade collections.

The Secret Sea in PW

PW logoThe folks at Publishers Weekly have chimed in on The Secret Sea…and it seems like they dig it! Their review is below…sort of.

I say “sort of” because I’ve redacted a little bit of it for spoiler reasons. No offense meant to PW — I just feel strongly about that sort of thing. 🙂

Anyway, here it (mostly) is:

The Secret Sea cover

When 12-year-old Zak Killian starts dreaming of boats and having visions of flooded Manhattan subways that no one else can see, he begins to think that the voice he keeps hearing in his head might not be his imagination. In a thrilling standalone adventure from Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Zak learns that his longstanding heart condition is [SPOILER!] Now Zak [SPOILER!]and his best friends Khalid and Moira venture into a parallel universe. Lyga used the real-life mystery of a ship under Ground Zero as a spark for the story, and an endnote gives more information and context to the discovery. Readers will love the fast-paced action and terrifying details of the alternate timeline Zak and friends find themselves in, and the satisfying conclusion will leave them considering questions of identity and family.

The Secret Sea’s Cover Secrets!

This is the cover to The Secret Sea, complete with its swanky blurb from R.L. Stine…Secret Sea front cover

And here’s the back cover, complete with its sweet blurb from Gordon Korman…Secret Sea back cover

And here’s the inside front flap, with more artwork that I did not know would exist!

Secret Sea flap

I am so psyched because while I love main character Zak and his portrayal on the cover, his best pals Khalid and Moira are only slightly less “main” than he is. So it’s beyond awesome that they get some love, too. Better yet, the folks at Feiwel & Friends kept this little tidbit from me, so it was a nice surprise when my first author copy arrived the other day!

(Sorry, I Hunt Killers fans — nothing exotic on the case cover!)