Monday, December 14, 2009


I go to Canada at least once a year to visit my oldest child, and I always love finding new (to me) Canadian writers. This year it was Marina Endicott, whose (adult) novel Good to a Fault is now a finalist for Canada Reads, the national everybody-reads-the-same-novel thing they've got going there. Good to a Fault was not only delightful reading, it was also a marvelous study in POV. I often reread passages just to admire how the narrative moved from character to character without a hitch, like a relay baton going from runner to runner and never getting dropped.

Kathleen Duey's Skin Hunger, one of the common books for the upcoming Hamline residency, has a dual narrative structure, and it's a book I've been recommending lately for writers trying to work with multiple story threads. We're studying it for setting (I think it was your pick, Mary Logue? Thank you!) but it also provides a marvelous study in structure.

I suppose one reason I was taken with the multiple narrators in Good to a Fault and with Skin Hunger's structure is that I have always stuck to a single narrator and vantage in my novels (Well, okay, there was one a long time ago, Come in from the Cold, that was split between two kids, but the split was so broadly defined that it felt like separate stories as I was doing it). With New Year's coming up, I think it's time for some writing resolutions, and whadya say we listen to Ron and make those resolutions risky ones?

So here I go: In 2010 I will break it open and try a multiple (but a closely-woven) thread/voice story.

And you?


  1. And if, as I often think, screen-culture brains are used to and perhaps need a "screen change" at intervals to stay engaged, we might see more and more complex structures as time goes on. I can't wait to read yours.

  2. My favorite Canadian author is Janet Lunn. I fell in love with The Root Cellar years ago and gobbled up the rest of her books soon thereafter.

    I am working on my own multiple viewpoint story and the hardest part (at least for me) is time continuity.

  3. Kathleen Duey! Thanks for peeking in and speaking up. I think the screen-culture brain is something the children's author needs to consider. At least for older kids, the train has left the station. (Cheryl Bardoe--I agree with your earlier comment on a previous thread re: those board books that are really video holders; for the youngest ones, we have to throw ourselves in front of the train). There's an interesting new book out that looks at the science of child development, Nurture Shock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Worth a writer's time to try and understand the audience, I think.

  4. Venus, I'm lecturing on "time" at residency--mostly because it challenges me too.

  5. I'm about 2/3 of the way through Skin Hunger. Besides the shift in character POV, I find the shift between limited 3rd person and 1st person interesting. The many parallels between the two worlds/story lines create a sort of double image. Like one of those magic rings I had when I was a kid--you tilt it one way and see one picture, but then tilt it another and see a different, but related picture. Really nice.

  6. I'm so looking forward to Marsha's lecture.

    I love your comment, Debra. I think Skin Hunger is masterful in so many ways--as is it's sequel. I'm dying for the last book.

    I have the opposite problem--I can only write in multiple viewpoints. I find existing in one person's head too claustrophobic. Which sort of makes you wonder how I get through the day.