Sunday, July 29, 2007

She Said or Said She?

A few weeks ago, Elodia blogged about Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King. It was the first editing book that I read about writing and it turns out the best I've read. I have learned so much from it. I originally read it about four years ago. One of the things that I learned is that you write: "Hello," she said and not "Hello," said she. So, naturally, I had to go back to my manuscripts and change all of those.

My question is, why do I still find that technique -- said she in some books that I read. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books (or seen any of the movies). Please don't blast me. I know I'm like the only one in the world. Sorry. Please, still be my friends. Anyway, I recently skimmed a few pages in the latest Harry Potter book while I was at the grocery store. She uses that technique as well? Is it acceptable, then? I was really under the impression that you don't do that.

While we're on the subject of things you don't do. What is the deal with switching point of views every other paragraph? I am currently reading my first ever Nora Roberts book. I've never read one before, but apparently she's written a lot of books. Anyway, she constantly switches from one POV to another. Again, referring back to the Self-Editing book, you're not supposed to do this. I'm always careful not to do this because that's what I was taught. How is it that so many authors in the national market, as well as the LDS market switch POV's. How unacceptable is it if they're doing it? Does this bother anyone else when they're reading? It drives me crazy. Sometimes, I don't want to finish a book because I can't keep up with POV"s. Of course, I did it too when I first started writing, but that was before I read that you weren't supposed to. Do some authors just get to be so famous and best-selling that nobody cares that they don't follow the rules?


Tamra Norton said...

I think the rule is, once you've made the NYT Bestseller list twice, you can do whatever you want. :)

Seriously, I have no clue. I'm just finishing HP6 (I think I'll be done tonight--I know, I'm late) and she breaks a lot of "rules." But she's such a fantastic storyteller that I guess it doesn't matter.

Robyn Heirtzler said...

Working in newspaper as long as I have, I get easily annoyed with books or articles for that matter. There are so many rules that are broken constantly and I quite often throw out the newspaper or put down a book after just a paragraph or two.
One that particularly bothers me is the meeting will be held. You hold babies, not meetings! Yes, I know all about the he said vs. said he also.
The POV thing ... oh, yeah, I go nuts when it switches so often. Books that do that aren't worth my time to read them.
There are rules that should be followed and as far as some of the bestselling authors go, they sell for their names, hence they are more easily able to break those rules.
While I'm here, let me plug my favorite writing book, Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. It is a MUST for any serious writer.

Karlene said...

She said vs said she--English usage changes over time and not always for the better. My pet peeve is the move to get rid of all irregular verbs. (Ex: replacing "lit" with "lighted".)

If you're writing for modern American English readers, it is always "she said." "Said she" is more formal and British.

Tristi Pinkston said...

British usage is different from American usage, so you will find different structures in a book written by a Brit. But like Tami said, she gets away with stuff because she's Rowling! :)

As far as the POV thing goes, some authors get away with a lot. I really dislike such rapid shifts in POV and think it's a mark of unprofessionalism. You will, however, find a lot of varying viewpoints on that. A good rule of thumb in any case -- if the reader is confused, don't do it.