Once the research on Logan Thibault’s military experiences, the writing proceeded relatively smoothly. Aside from Logan’s recollections, it was for the most part a “linear” story and those are always a bit easier to write.
Still, as with all my novels, I wanted to do something different—not only with the story or the structure or the characters (as I always try to vary) but literally with the “voice” in the novel. I’ve written in first person and third-person omniscient, but with this novel, I wanted to try writing in limited third-person omniscient.
It was something I’d never done before, but something I’d always wanted to try. It allows the reader to feel an almost “first person” closeness with the character, while still allowing for all the characters to participate.
To do this, each chapter was told through the perspective of a single character. For example, in chapters labeled “Thibault,” only Thibault’s thoughts are included. Anything another character does is seen through his perspective, one that Thibault must only assume. If he’s talking to Beth, he can intuit what she’s thinking, but the reader is never allowed to know for sure. Until, of course, the next chapter arrives (perhaps labeled “Beth”) where she might reflect on what she’d actually been thinking.
It’s a powerful form of writing when used effectively, but the challenge is to make each character’s voice distinct enough to be immediately recognizable. In other words, the reader should be able to “know” who’s talking, even if the chapter hadn’t been labeled at all.
There was a learning curve associated with this. It made the development of the relationship between Thibault and Beth a bit more difficult (since it was only through one person’s eyes at any given time), but on the other hand, it made the characters themselves a bit easier to craft. And some voices were more difficult than others. Keith Clayton’s voice, for instance, was ridiculously easy to write. Logan – because he was reticent – was a bit more difficult. Beth was somewhere in between.
Then, of course, there’s the challenge of keeping the story “linear.” That’s a bit tougher to do when writing with this form of literary voice.
Still, it was fun to do. The writing was slow and difficult at times, easier and quicker at others. In terms of difficulty, it was probably in the easiest third of the novels I’ve written (The Guardian will ALWAYS remain at the top of the difficulty scale – see notes on The Guardian as to the reason why) but because it was longer than the three previous novels I’d written (At First Sight, Dear John, and The Choice), it seemed to take longer than normal, at least until the end of the novel. I think it took around five months to write the first 280 pages; the last 70 pages, however, were written in three days. The action packed ending of the novel literally wrote itself, and by that point in time, I couldn’t have been any happier about it.