First-person or third-person?

I’ve read numerous tweets and blog posts lately about the trend of perspective within fantasy and sci-fi. Apparently, third-person perspective has fallen out of favor. Editors think its boring and so last year. But what if your story involves many different characters and it’s confusing to jump back and forth into their heads like a squirrel with ADHD?

For an experiment, I took the opening scene from my book, Ohlen’s Arrow, and rewrote it from the first-person perspective of the main character. Read the original third-person version here:

Thwip.

The arrow sank deep into the creature’s throat and it fell backward in a spray of blood, twitching and clawing at the wooden shaft protruding from its severed windpipe. The man lowered his bow and crouched down into the bushes in case there were others. He remained still but watched and listened intently to see if he had stumbled upon a lone cru’gan or if it had been part of a patrol. At first the only sound was the wet gurgling coming from the cru’gan’s throat. Now it lay still and silent and the only thing the man could hear was the evening breeze through the pine trees.

After several minutes passed he retrieved his arrow and quickly searched the body, then rolled it under a pile of briars out of sight. He kicked the creature’s blood into the dust and pine needles to hide the evidence of the encounter, then moved silently away into the forest amidst the diminishing evening light.

Now, here’s a first-person version I wrote:

Thwip.

My arrow sank deep into the cru’gan’s throat and it fell backward in a spray of blood. It’s filthy hands frantically clawed at the wooden shaft protruding from its severed windpipe. I lowered my bow and crouched down into the bushes in case there were others. I held still while I watched and listened intently to see if it was alone or if I had stumbled upon a larger a patrol. For several seconds the only sound I heard was the wet gurgling coming from its throat. Now it lay still and silent and the only thing I could hear was the evening breeze through the pine trees.

I waited several minutes, then retrieved my arrow and quickly searched the body before rolling it under a pile of briars out of sight. I kicked its blood into the dust and pine needles to hide the evidence of the encounter, then moved silently away into the forest under cover of the diminishing evening light.

Which do you prefer?

The editing phase of a story’s lifecycle

In the life-cycle of Ohlen’s Arrow, I’m in the editing phase. I’ve hired an editor and we’ve been going through revisions one chapter at a time. I gave her the story as Word files, one per chapter. She then returns those Word files with track-changes turned on. I open up the Word file and place it next to my Scrivener screen. I review each suggested edit and make the changes in Scrivener as I go along.

At this point very few of the edits involve plot items, although I did rework a conversation my lead character has with two friends at the beginning of the story. This helps establish some key plot elements that didn’t quite fit later on in the story.

The bulk of this round of editing has been spent on sentence structure, grammar, and word choices. It’s like a musician being told how to hold their instrument. What I love about this phase of the “I’m writing a novel” process is it makes the finished product better. It also makes me a better writer.

V-Strom Mid-life Maintenance

I took my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom DL650 to the shop this week for some mid-life maintenance. It now has 53,000 miles and other than a faulty TPS sensor, it’s never had a thing go wrong with it. Think about that for a second. That’s the equivalent distance of riding twice around the planet with only a single electronic sensor going bad.

I’m having the coolant flushed and the radiator, hoses and clamps inspected. It’s getting some new shoes, another pair of Metzeler Tourance tires. I prefer Shinko 705s, as they have quite a bit more grip, especially on wet pavement, and a bit more off-road traction. However, I can only get about 5,000 miles out of a rear Shinko; the Metzelers give me 10,000 miles, which will last me all season.

I’m also getting the battery replaced, not because of age but because I ran the current unit down by leaving my Garmin Zumo 220 GPS plugged in over night. It draws current even when powered off. Speaking of which, I’m having the shop re-route the GPS’ power cord to a switched circuit. This will prevent power from going to the GPS when the ignition is off.

Finally, I’m having braided stainless steel brake lines installed, replacing the factor rubber hoses.

Hanging off up the river

We’ve had two dry days in a row in Western Oregon and I’ve taken advantage of it to put some miles on the GSX-R750. I rode it to work on Friday, carrying my gear in my MotoCentric soft bags. They are light, functional, and look fantastic. I rode the long way home, following the Sandy River through Springdale, past Oxbow Park, then through the rural communities of Aims and Bull Run before emerging back up the hill to Sandy and home.

Saturday I took the Gixxer up the Clackamas River on Highway 224 to Ripplebrook Ranger Station. It was overcast and chilly up the river valley but the pavement was mostly dry. There was only a smattering of sanding gravel in the center of each lane on the last few miles before reaching the turn-around point.

The ride wasn’t just for fun (although it certainly was that). I was specifically practicing my right-hand turns. To counterstear, you push right to turn right, and push left to turn left. The problem with pushing right to turn right is that’s where the throttle is. You don’t want your pushing to affect your throttle input. So how do you push without pushing?

I practiced two techniques. The first was gripping the tank with my knees and keeping my upper body directly lined up with the bike; i.e. no hanging off. This works fine for slower cornering, but doesn’t work if you jack up the speed around the turn.

The second technique was to lean my body to the right, hanging half of my butt cheek off the seat, and supporting my body by pressing the inside of my left leg and my left elbow against the tank. This removed weight on my right wrist. I made sure I was supporting myself enough by flexing my right hand and ensuring I had a light touch on the grip.

After riding 80 miles of a decent set of turns, it started to become easier. By the time I was heading home I was easily able to double the posted corner speed with a great deal of control and comfort.