Saturday, August 14, 2010


Just finished reading Abhorsen, the last book in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series. It was one of those books I didn't want to finish, and now that I have, I get this vague feeling of emptiness, and I suspect the next book I pick up will have a hard time catching my attention, no matter how good it is.

Aside from a thoroughly enjoyable read, I learned a lot from the three books in the series. The principal lesson was that it's easy to slip into the habit of over-editing. There were many times when I read sentences in the books that I know I would have reworked had I written them - there were obvious ways they could be made sharper, more direct, more impacting. Except they couldn't, because somehow they worked perfectly as they were. It left me wondering how many times I've edited the soul out of a perfectly good sentence, in a vain effort to make it that much better.

From now, I think I'll try and be a little more relaxed in my editing, and perhaps allow a few more 'rough' sentences to remain as they are.

The other thing I found challenging in the books was Garth's use of omnipotent point-of-view. I've seen it used in other books, but never quite as smoothly as he did it, with transitions occurring in a way that was both obvious and seamless. It made me realise the tremendous power of that POV - how handy it is to be able to jump into someone else's head when convenient, and also to be able to describe things that none of the characters is actually witnessing. My usual POV choice is through the head of the protagonsist, and I'm noticing particularly with MMA that that can sometimes be quite restrictive. Not that I'm about to leap into omniscient - I don't think I can, seeing as GPL was written in third-person limited. But it's something I'd love to try in future books.

Overall, I had a fabulous read, and learned some important lessons at the same time! It doesn't get much better than that.

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