On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hiding Things from the Reader -- Fairness

I've been reading a mixture of things. One day I read J.D. Robb's Memory in Death (set in the 2050's) where Eve Dallas, cop, seals up before going onto a crime scene. The next I'm back in the 1920's with Dorothy L. Sayers where amateur (fascinating) sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey strolls onto a crime scene and picks up a dead artist's pallet (ruining fingerprints that could be vital) and rummages through his bag -- Five Red Herrings. Culture Shock. Granted, Lord Peter does realize the death is murder and the police don't, so he starts the investigation.

Dallas states in Memory near the end of the book (3/4 turning point I think is where my mentor says murderers can be revealed), that she had a gut feeling who the murderer was all along. But Robb didn't tell the reader. This isn't the first time Dallas has made this statement late in the book. I'm pretty ok with it, but it does niggle at me a little.

But I will continue to read these books despite knowing this may come up again because I love the characters and sometimes the stories can blow me away. I could go on and on about Divided in Death and Survivor in Death, particularly the latter and how the fate of the young girl mirror's Eve's while the contrast in their home lives is nothing alike.

In Five Red Herrings -- granted another age and completely different style, Sayers in authorial POV reports that Lord Peter deduced something and told the police, and the savvy reader would know what he told them (paraphrase). Since I've read the book several times before and something tickles in my memory, I think the clue is that the artist didn't have any white paint. I will continue to return to these books too, because like most women I fell in love with Lord Peter at a young age.

Now, The Lake House. I finally saw it a few nights ago. I enjoyed the mailbox and the dog that crossed time and was willing to suspend my disbelief for those (and the house was fabulous) I liked the glimpses of each other. I didn't see the ending coming until the very end because it violated the rules of magic (ok and it was 1:30 am) that had been set up. That they were living the same day two years apart. I loved the characters and the premise, but the UNFAIRNESS of this -- having something happen BEFORE it should actually have happened -- stopped me from buying this film. I'll think about it, but don't know that I'll ever watch it again. This was too big for me to overlook and ruined the film.

The best job of "hiding something from the reader" I've ever seen was Kay Hooper's Amanda. Love that story. And you know that the author/Amanda is hiding something from you, which is a little distancing, but the story pulled me along. The romance and characters pulled me along. I reread this often (I have the hardback and paperback), and now I see how she did it, but don't know if I would ever be able to do it as smoothly myself.

May you know all your story's secrets today.


Anonymous Roslyn said...

Watched the Lake House just recently as well.

Loved the happy ending. I'm one reader who is willing to forgive lots of things for a happy ending. Except grammatical errors.

So speaks an English teacher :)

I love your happy endings, Robin. At this point in time, I am anxiously waiting for you to finish writing your book/books. My life consists of checking your website as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon's and Kresley Cole's. Sigh... no book out yet.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

LOL, I think I'm going to slip a month this month, which I do occasionally, and just update in June.

Heart Dance should be out early July and I'm slaving over Keepers of the Flame for January.

I'd like to squeeze one more book in a year, something SHORTER.

Thanks for the note,

10:57 AM  

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