I want to chime in on something that has turned into a trend in books that I really don't care for. That being the 1st Person (Present or Past tense) narrative.
I don't know how it came to be that so many writers are choosing 1st person. Back when I was trying to sell my first book to a publisher, back in the late 1980s, I was told that they wouldn't touch 1st Person unless it was exceptional. Now, with so many mediocre reads out there, I see why.
I find both of these (present and past tense) boring, most of the time. It appears to be a challenge to show rather than tell in 1st person, which increases the yawn factor and the sense of disconnect for me.
I spent some time after reading one book that I felt I should have enjoyed more, trying to figure out exactly what it is, since I know a lot of people really like this POV. I came to the conclusion that it is like sitting at a table listening to someone--if it is really good, maybe a friend, otherwise just some random person--tell me what happened to them. I may connect with what they're saying, feel some emotion, but I don't feel like I was there.
For some reason, I can feel like I'm part of the action when it is third person and the author has mastered showing. Maybe that just means I think of myself in third person? I haven't started referring to myself in third person in conversation (at least Kristi doesn't think so....) but maybe because I have spent so long writing stories from the characters' perspectives and trying to show their stories by putting myself in their shoes, that I've thrown a switch in my brain....
I can't stress enough the importance of showing a scene rather than telling about it. Little details that one can work into a sentence will show what is happening, and draw a reader in more than telling. Going to the bathroom, washing hands, brushing teeth...becomes tedious over-telling in the hands of an unskilled or hurried writer.
For instance, a 1st person POV might read:
I went to the restroom to wash my face, picked up a towel to dry my hands, and looked at my reflection in the mirror. Brown hair, blue eyes, button nose; my usual good looks marred by the darkening bruise on my cheek.
But I like this better:
She ducked into the restroom to splash some water on her face. The woman in the mirror, wringing her hands around the paper towel, stared back at her with haunted eyes, just a shadow of their usual breezy blue. She patted her brown curls into place, pulling a few strands down to artfully cover the darkening bruise on her cheek.
It could be done in 1st person:
I ducked into the restroom to splash some water on my face. The woman in the mirror, wringing her hands around the paper towel, stared back at me with haunted eyes, just a shadow of their usual breezy blue. I patted my brown curls into place, pulling a few strands down to artfully cover the darkening bruise on my cheek.
But too often scenes I've read get the former treatment. Instead of putting a little work into it -- I literally took 5 minutes to compose all three of those examples (imagine if I put some polish on it!) -- the writer just gives a laundry list of actions and descriptions, which puts me to sleep.
So, take what you will from my little rant/pet peeve.
I guess if I ever get around to publishing my epic 1st Person narrative novel, it will have to be totally spectacular after this, right?