When the Focus Group met to discuss its thoughts about Holy Bones,one of the aspects that we talked about was viewpoint. The book is written in the first person because although some of the events in the book deal with the scary and the supernatural, it is an adventure story rather than horror. By making Ava a reliable narrator - we can trust that what she says is true - her reaction determines the reader’s reaction. She faces her problems head-on and doesn’t freak out. (Well, just the once). And this approach works, because no-one in the Focus Group had nightmares even though they read it under the covers late into the night…
But there are drawbacks to the first person narrative. The book features dual protagonists – Ava Jones and Tal Evans – and although we get to know Tal through dialogue and action, we have no idea about his internal monologue; in other words, we don’t really know how he thinks. The boys in the group felt particularly strongly that this should be addressed in the sequel. The suggestions were to either have two first-person viewpoints, or to have Ava written in the first person and Tal in the third person. It was pointed out that as the characters are very different, having multiple viewpoints wouldn’t be confusing for the reader. It will also make the narrative more complex.
I will write a section of the next book using both options and in the Focus Group we can decide which option works best.
Other subjects that we touched on were the problem of writer’s block (solution – exercise!); the best place to write? (for a first draft, using pen and notebook, anywhere including McDonalds); and the use of historical facts as a source of inspiration.
My Focus Group is inspirational, too, I find!
Books are a uniquely portable magic – Stephen King