Twists on Style and Technique

Twists on Style and Technique

I’m smack dab in the middle of The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford, a thrilling suspense of a woman who is bipolar. The story is good, no doubt about it, but that’s not what I’m writing about in this post. After all, I haven’t finished reading it. Second, I’m the worst at writing reviews. [Makes me wonder how I’m going to ever write a synopsis or query letter.]

I’m marveling at Susan’s characteristic tone and delivery of writing. Chances are I’ve seen it before, but where and when totally escape me.

She uses the deep POV approach. Duly appropriate because of the syndrome the protagonist has. Knowing what happens when she switched to manic is a main but not only twist in the story.

Susan chose to write this novel in third person, which is common enough, but she uses in the present tense. I find this atypical, although it could definitely be that my list of books isn’t reaching out far enough to find others. Anyway, putting third person with present tense is unexpected.

She has a few scenes where the POV is one of the other characters, but so far anyway, most of the scenes are from the perception of the first main character. [Am I using too many POVs?]

I’ve been writing my WiP in third person using past tense–prosaically common. I want to stay with the third person approach, but maybe I should think about switching to present tense to bring the reading in closer; have them feel that they’re standing right next to the character.

Susan does have some scenes that are done in past tense though. She’s done this to give back story. She brings the back story into the other scenes, but only glimpses because the bulk has already been addressed. I like this technique. Sure, it interrupts the story, but it enriches the knowledge about the character and, therefore, deepens the POV.

I’ve been trying to give out tidbits of back story as I write. It’s been such a struggle. I’m seriously thinking about going back and using Susan’s method.

Another aspect of Susan’s writing that I would love to practice so I feel comfortable with it is the abundance of narrative and less of dialogue. She has page upon page of narrative that moves the story right along. Somehow she gets the deep POV in there without any character talking.

This isn’t to say she doesn’t have any dialogue, but the conversations  I’ve seen in other books  are used for explanations vital to the story. This doesn’t seem to be the case in her stories. Instead, it’s the conversations that would be normally heard in such situations in real life. She gracefully enters the needed information in her narrative in such a way that the passages flow.

Yes, I’m one of those who has been using dialogue for clarification and description. I’m not even sure why I do it because I’d much rather use narrative for these aspects. I think I’m probably being lazy.

I’m glad I have found this incredible author. She has shown me possibilities I think I’ve needed to consider.

– that so much of what determines who we are, who we become, our sanity or lack of it, depends on circumstance, on voices from the past that whisper in our ears or lodge themselves in our heads. ~ Susan Crawford


12 thoughts on “Twists on Style and Technique

    1. I’m still reading it and enjoying it. I’d be done with it but because of astigmatism, I can’t read for very long without the print getting blurry.

      Thank you for stopping by. I hope you come again in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I hope to read this book, which caught my attention the first time I read a blurb about it.
    I agree with Sharon. Only another writer will notice nuances other readers may not. One can’t help but examine good writing to see how it works (or doesn’). 😀

    Liked by 1 person

        1. No, unfortunately. The shipping and handling of books at Amazon, no matter what the price of the book, is $3.99US. Still, this book is worth it, by far, in my opinion. The copy I received had some page with bent corners. That was the extent of it being used.


  2. Glynis, your analysis at the mechanics and structural level show you are reading like a writer–noticing what you like about a technique and trying to unpack it so you can try it yourself. It’s like a DIY approach to MFA-level reading. Pick it apart. Learn. Try it yourself.

    You could take just 500 words of your WIP and revise it to present tense, to see how you like the effect (and if you can handle its limitations). Past tense may be prosaic, but it’s also practical and manageable for a writer who is just starting out. It’s easier to manage the timeline for the characters and reader, regardless of POV. But it doesn’t mean you can’t experiment and revise small sections to see what you think!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ann, thank you for visiting my blog and giving me feedback.

      I tried the first few scenes with Susan’s approach. When reading it back, I did feel I was getting more of the close connection with the characters. In addition, while writing new scenes, I found it easier for me to jump right onto the active verbs using her style instead of getting into that awful habit of the being verbs. I may switch back with a later draft, but the action verb aspect is great for me while writing this first one.


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