Least Useful Writing Advice

 This morning, in browsing the internet, I came across Stacey May Fowles’ latest book.

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I loved Fowles’ novel Infidelity and so I was naturally curious and eager to read about her new book, which, in turn, led me to Stacey May’s answer to

 

What is the least useful writing advice you ever received?

You see, CBC Books runs a series titled Magic 8:

We ask our favourite Canadian authors for the questions they always wish they were asked. We put those questions into a hat, randomly pull out 8, and send them to other Canadian authors.

So it was writer Patrick deWitt who asked Fowles the question. This was her answer:

“Write every day.” There’s no better way to hate or become frustrated with a thing than to force yourself to do it when you just can’t or really don’t want to. I do think sometimes you have to work through writing difficulties but it’s also so important and necessary to take breaks when your gut tells you to. Sometimes simply not writing is actually good for your writing.

Fowles’ latest book? It’s about baseball.

Fowles is an avid Toronto Blue Jays fan and is editor of Best Canadian Sports Writing, baseball for Jays Nation and The Athletic, and is author of the popular weekly Baseball Life Advice e-newsletter. She has also won tons of writing awards.

Sounds like a fun read. Just in time for the baseball season.

Stacey May Fowles

I came across a novel – you know one of these novels that you can’t put down -so I wrote this review of Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles:

From the very first sentence,  “They say it takes a lot of nerve to leave someone at the altar” to “People who commit infidelity all seem to end up in the same shitty hotel room” I was hooked.

It was not only the plot that grabbed me. With a title like infidelity we already know what the plot is going to revolve around. In this case, a sought after, married writer with an autistic child and a soon to be married hairdresser.

That’s interesting enough. But the real sparkles of this novel is the writing. Stacey May Fowles not only writes beautiful sentences but she takes literary risks that wowed me. For example, shifting points of views so smoothly and artistically. As a writer, I was fascinated with her style of writing.

canadianbooks:Our latest Cityline Book Club pick: Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles | Cityline

 

I’ve often read and been told by many writing teachers to stick to one point of view. Maybe you’ve been told the same thing. So I’m reading along her book, third person POV with the title chapters indicated  as such:

(CHAPTER ONE), (CHAPTER TWO) and so on. Protagonists names are Ronnie (short for Veronica) and Charlie.

Then I get to ( CHAPTER FIVE)

CHARLIE

“I write because it makes me feel interesting, wanted, desirable, wise. Because it’s an itch that won’t be scratched, but I just keep scratching and scratching until it bleeds…”

So now, I’m reading the novel in first person POV.

And then I get to another first person POV.

RONNIE

“Charlie was the sweetest kind of sickness from the moment I met him. He was the secret thrill of possible infidelity embodied in a package of ridiculous awkwardness.”

(CHAPTER SIX )

Back to third person POV. Until chapter ten. But don’t try to find a pattern to the shift between first and third person POV because there isn’t any.

Mixing the two POV’s offers both the intimate perspective of first person and the much wider perspective of third person. It works because Fowles uses the first person only with her two main characters.

This novel is not at all conventional.  For example, when Ronnie makes a list of things she longs to do with Charlie but can’t do with him. The things are on the page numbered from

1) Read the Sunday paper with you….

to

20) Wake up together on Christmas morning.

Infidelity, which was published by ECW Press, a small Canadian publisher, was listed as a top one hundred novels of 2013 on Amazon.ca. Not bad for a not so well known writer, following her own rules.

 What are your thoughts about shifting viewpoints in a novel?