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Book Styling

Do you love the writing style or even notice it when you're reading?

what's your reading style?

I never realized how much writing—and readers—have changed, until I read an old favorite novel right after reading something current. 

What? How can words and writing them down change, you ask? 

Styles of writing do change, even the way we use and spell words can change. I mean, look at the classics, for instance. We write a lot less fancy than we used to and we write shorter (fiction) books, for the most part. (Charles Dickens anyone??)

I know when I recommend an old favorite to a new reader, they sometimes balk. There might be long introductions—almost like a movie with the credits playing and the camera gradually closes in on the main character or characters. Two of my favorite authors who didn’t start writing “in the middle of the action,” were Georgette Heyer and Elizabeth Cadell. At the time, I don’t remember it bothering me (and it doesn’t bother me now, but I do notice it now). 

Point of view changes are both more inflexible (IMHO) and more flexible. Crazy right? Another favorite author, Mary Stewart, wrote her suspense novels all in first person point of view. Another author I enjoyed in the ’90s was Joan Hess. One series, she alternated first person with third person. It was startling at the time, but now I see it done from time to time. I know once I got used to it, it didn’t knock me out of the story.

The common convention now is to NOT switch point of view in a scene, but Jane Austen used to switch POV in the middle of paragraphs! (Which tells me that good storytelling never goes out of style…)

Now that I write my own books, I’m more aware of these stylistics elements of writing than when I was a reader only. And now, looking back, I wonder if the books I didn’t like were more about the way the author told the story? For instance, I struggle with present tense in books. It feels strange to me and keeps me from going deep into the story, but I know a lot of readers love it. Seriously love it. 

Do you find that some tenses make you tense? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Lol I do know that some readers dislike first person, but I like it if I like the narrator in the story. 

Have you noticed style differences in the books you read? Do you tend to read the same style of book when you read? 

Perilously yours,

Pauline

P.S. Here’s a sample from one of my two, first-person books, The Spy Who Kissed Me (the first novel I wrote and published!). My main character, Isabel “Stan” Stanley, is trying to head home after playing the organ for the church choir: 

I headed for the door but got cut off at the pass by Reverend Hilliard. I was dripping with sweat and he looked like he couldn’t sweat and never would. His blinding smile featured two rows of gleaming, reverential teeth. He looked like he’d been born with the clerical collar around his neck. I fought back a sudden urge to confess something. It wasn’t a lack of material, you understand, but fear of bursting into flames. Didn’t seem like a good plan to incinerate a man of God.

“I can’t thank you enough for helping us out, Miss Stanley. I pray it didn’t inconvenience you too much?”

He probably had prayed. So glad he was keeping God updated on my movements.

“It wasn’t a problem. I’m glad to help out the kids.” I didn’t think he was interested me—because I’d seen me in the mirror—but it didn’t hurt to be honest. Just in case God was listening in. He smiled again, upping my guilt level by a factor of something times something else. I taught English, not math before I quit to write roaches. I added before he could pile on more guilt, “I really have to be going. I have Rosemary’s car and she likes it home by ten.”

He looked at me like I’d kicked a puppy but he forgave me because that’s just the kind of preacher guy he was. I fled because that’s the kind of girl I was. 

Outside the cold air sizzled against my hot cheeks. Just prior to spontaneous combustion, I stripped off the jacket, hat, and gloves, and tossed them into the back seat. I’d have taken off the thermals, too, but I didn’t want to get arrested in the church parking lot. I slid behind the wheel and started the motor. The heater blew cold. Before it could change its mind, I switched it to cold vent and opened the sunroof, welcoming the combined rush of frigid air across my steaming face and neck. As I kicked it into gear, cold began a slow seep into the thermal covered areas.

Earlier, snow had mixed with rain. Clouds still obscured the stars, but the air was now dry and devoid of flakes. In the fitful light of the street lamps, the road gleamed slick and empty. I drove with caution—because it wasn’t my car—enjoying the feel of fresh air, sweet solitude—a rare commodity in our over-stocked household—and a great car. Pleasantly tired and full of chocolate, I drove on auto-pilot, my thoughts drifting to my current romance novel with its impending love scene that I still didn’t know how to write. 

“Get a better imagination or a lover, Stan,” my agent had advised, the one time I’d let her read a draft.

“Maybe I should get a new agent,” I muttered. About then I saw the stop sign and hit the brakes. Across the intersection, an unfamiliar street retreated into murk, lit only by the faint glow of the street lamps.

“Great.” I’d taken a wrong turn again. I crossed the intersection, straining to read the signs. The one I managed to pick out was sort of familiar, but I couldn’t place myself relative to home—

To my right, several firecrackers went off, one right after the other.

Then a man burst through the bay window of a house.

* * * * 

This suburbanite is about to meet a dashing spy…

Isabel “Stan” Stanley is stuck in a rut in the DC suburbs. As a wannabe romance writer, she hopes a sexy muse falls into her lap. But she never expected a handsome spy to dive through her sunroof…

Pursued by a hail of bullets, international CIA Agent Kelvin Kapone didn’t have plans to make friend. But when his latest mission puts him in the bewildering burbs, the charming Stan is a surprisingly strong guide. As he discovers a chilling terrorist plot, Kelvin doesn’t want to admit that he may just need the suburbanite’s help…

Despite her best efforts, Stan can’t break free from the dangerous mission. And while being in close quarters with a sexy spy is getting her great material for her novel, it won’t do her much good if they both end up dead…

The Spy Who Kissed Me is a suspenseful comedic romance novel. If you like high-stakes action, laugh-out-loud scenes, and stories where opposites attract, then you’ll love Pauline Baird Jones’ award-winning tale of espionage. 

Buy The Spy Who Kissed Me to pucker up for a fun, flirty escape today!

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