I have a lot of ideas for poems, but I have neglected the one, wonderful, article that should have been put up here months ago. I am honored to have Kellyn from the blog Reveries, who may of you know as an author and whose blog I hope you follow. Today, I have the honor of this post, and though I have never read this book, I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did. I’m sure Kellyn would take questions in the comments, wouldn’t you? 🙂
Here’s the article….
3 Things Northanger Abbey Can Teach Writers
Hello, my name is Kellyn Roth (though you can call me Kell), and I was honored to be allowed to guest post here on A Notebook, One Pen, and Me today! *waves wildly at Saanvi* *jumps up and down excitedly* Okay, I’m calm, I’m calm …
Today I’m going to talk a little bit about what the classical romance novel, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, can teach us as writers.
However, before we begin, I’d like to introduce myself. Because who wants to read a blog post by someone they don’t know!? That’d be boring!
Five Things About Me
1 // I’m the self-published author of three historical novels.
2 // I blog about myself, my books, and writing. I post fun stuff sometimes, too. 😉
3 // I’m an ISTP or INTJ … I can never decide which!
4 // I can be super sarcastic or super serious. It really depends on my mood.
5 // I’m a Christian homeschooled country girl. So the best combination ever? 😛
And, because you need to know a little about the book we’re talking about …
Three Things About Northanger Abbey
1 // It was Austen’s last work and it was published posthumously. Lots of people look down on it even though it’s an excellent novel because it was written in a slightly different style.
2 // Catherine Moreland is the main character. She is a 17-year-old clueless country girl who gets an opportunity to go with friends of her family to the social hot-spot, Bath, for a few months where she expects to have grand adventures like those she reads about in novels.
3 // It’s my opinion that you should read it if you like Austen. However, people who dislike Austen probably won’t like it so much.
And Finally …
|Three Things Northanger Abbey Can Teach Writers|
1: The Main Character Doesn’t Have to Know Everything
Having a main character not know something can be done as a way to throw off the audience. What could easily be seen from the bird’s eye view of omniscient may be hidden from one character, the basis upon what many mysteries are founded.
Although Northanger Abbey is written in a omniscient point of view, many of our observations are limited to what Catherine Moreland can see. Catherine’s calling card is cluelessness. She’s one of the few characters who does it well.
However, your character doesn’t have to be clueless! Even if you have an incredibly intelligent character, they won’t – and probably shouldn’t! – know everything. Catherine is an extreme example.
2: Show the Character’s Character Through Actions, Not Words
We all love our dialogue and our explanations, and it’s an easy way to get a peek into the personalities of a character. However … it’s generally lazy writing. (And I’m saying this from the perspective of an author who writes very dialogue-heavy books oftentimes.)
Consider this. You’re writing a limited third person point of view with your heroine, er, Nancy. Annie is smart. Nancy reflects that Annie is smart. Nancy says Annie is smart. Annie says smart stuff. Our audience comes to the conclusion that, guess what? ANNIE IS SMART!
However … wouldn’t it be better to have Annie prove that she’s smart through actions? Indeed, it would!
The best example of this from Northanger Abbey is one Isabella Thornton. Isabella continually tells Catherine how she loves her, adores her, would do anything for her. She’s sweet and kind in her speech towards Catherine.
But Isabella is anything but! Through her actions only is her true character revealed. Never until the end does dialogue develop Isabella. It’s all about action. What the character does, not what the character says.
3: Omniscient Can Be Done Well, But Voice is Everything
Omniscient Point of View (in which the story is told by a narrator rather than from the perspective of one character) was very popular back in the day. Austen was, in fact, one of the first to use a limited point of view (with her Emma). Limited has gotten more and more common over the years until omniscient is frowned-upon.
This is in part because of the ease in which head-hopping (switching from the thoughts of one character to another randomly) sneaks into the Omniscient POV (point of view). However, Omniscient can be done without head-hopping and some people do enjoy it.
However, the key to an Omniscient POV is … voice.
In 1st person or 3rd person limited, your voice is defined by the protagonist. But in Omniscient the voice is defined by you, the author.
This can lead to Omniscient being very boring, not because authors have no personalities (although some of them don’t … like me …), but because authors are so used to thinking like their protagonist that their voice often depends a great deal on their protagonist.
In Omniscient, it’s all on the author. The characters don’t influence the voice!
In Northanger Abbey, we get to see Austen’s saucy, witty commentary on the characters and plot. She brings the story together. If it weren’t for her voice, the story would crumble.
After all, without Austen’s wit, the story would be a silly, dull, predictable one indeed.
Well, that’s all I have to say on the subject. I hope this post was helpful … and that maybe it inspired you to read Northanger Abbey! 😛 Thanks again for having me, Saanvi! ❤
Kellyn Roth of Reveries
What a wonderful post! I’m sure these tips would be helpful for all the aspiring writers out there. Please do check out Kellyn, she’s a wonderful person who I had a pleasure to work with. She was patient when I couldn’t get her article published, and most of all, she doesn’t hate me! YAY!