Author Topic: Question~ Dresden Books: On writing  (Read 5545 times)

Offline Paige

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Question~ Dresden Books: On writing
« on: December 22, 2006, 04:29:28 PM »
After listening to the podcast (Great job! BTW) and listening to Jim's thoughts about other writer's take on the Dresden world and characters, I started wondering about his regrets. That, “ooo...wish I'd thought of that,” feeling he mentioned.

Q: Now that he sees how the story line opens up and the potential of what would basically be third person POV does Jim regret writing in the first person? (This is a stumbling block I struggle with. Deciding if a story is better told in the deep, deep perspective you get with first person, or with the variety and openness for the reader you get in third person.)

Q: What made him choose first person for Harry?

 If this is the wrong place for this, I humbly apologize and would appreciate if the powers that be moved it to the "right" place. Wherever that may be.  :P
Thanks!!

Offline Abstruse

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Re: Question~ Dresden Books: On writing
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2006, 03:56:26 AM »
I can't answer for Mr. Butcher, but I can give my idea of why he chose first person.  There are two main influences in the Dresden books.  The first is the obvious fantasy novels.  I don't know how people catch this because it's so obscure...

The other major influence is hardboiled detective fiction.  Robert B Parker, Raymond Chandler, etc.  Smart-assed and cynical while still being white knights with strict morals.  They're all told in first person as are most books in the genre as a part of the style.  There are very, very few examples of the entire genre where the stories are told in the third person.  It legs you get inside the head of the protagonist and solve the mystery along with him as well as follow his thought processes as he does.

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Offline Amoracchius

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Re: Question~ Dresden Books: On writing
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2006, 04:14:08 AM »
First person can be wonderful if you write like Jim Butcher or Charles Dickens or Mark Twain or Herman Melville or Harper Lee or Charlotte Bronte or Mary Shelley but for most people it is too hard to sustain. The 2 edged sword of limiting the reader to learning things as the character learns them works especially well in detective stories where they are uncovering details at the same time. The problem is the reader must also learn of all the other characters through the narrator and see them through his or her viewpoint. When it is done well there is nothing that beats the intimacy you feel with the narrator. Anyone who has read David Copperfield, Jane Ayre, To Kill A Mockingbird, Frankenstein, and so many more will understand what I am speaking of. It can also be done very badly and in fact is most often done very badly. Let's not talk of that. A certain actor I met said that being the lead character in a television series can be like being the character in a first person narrative. Almost everyone can see what is coming exceptfor that character. Imagine being in that position for 4 or 5 years  ::)
Paranoid ? Probably but just because your paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face

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Offline Abstruse

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Re: Question~ Dresden Books: On writing
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2006, 06:37:15 AM »
Another big problem with first person is identity.  I've read books in first person that would've been much better in third person FOR ME PERSONALLY because I just couldn't identify with the character.  The newer Anita Blake books for example.  I might like them a bit more if they were third person instead of first.  But I just can't identify with a complete slut for anything that talks but isn't human.  It just doesn't work for me.  If the main character isn't like me, I can't keep up with them.

Which is what makes me love the Dresden books anymore.  He's knee-jerk anti-authority, he's a smart-ass, he has a lot of self-doubts, he's a good person who feels like all the good deeds he does don't really help, and he has a large command of pop culture and geeky trivia.  I really identify with him and therefore it bonds me more with the series in general.  This is probably why the Dresden series is my favorite on-going fiction series right now, over other entries in the genre that are just as good in terms of style and story (such as the Nightside series).  I love Harry because I feel that I am Harry, at least in part.

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Offline jimbutcher

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Re: Question~ Dresden Books: On writing
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2007, 06:38:36 PM »
Q: Now that he sees how the story line opens up and the potential of what would basically be third person POV does Jim regret writing in the first person?

Oh, not just no, but hell no.  I mean, I couldn't even imagine doing that now. :)

Quote
Q: What made him choose first person for Harry?

Debbie Chester, my writing teacher. :) 

Remember that I wrote Storm Front in what was basically a bid to show myself how wrong my writing teacher was and how right I was about my work, so I resolved to do everything her way for one book, just to show how awful the results would be.

I had been struggling with third person--especially with being able to make characters who were sympathetic and emotionally viable--and Debbie suggested that I try writing something in first person viewpoint and see if it worked out any better.

It did.  I had a much better instinctive grasp of first person than third person.  My third person writing is STILL not up to the kind of speed I'd like it to be--but I've done a lot less of it, too, and it seems to be improving steadily, if not monumentally.

Jim