Episode 93

Dramatic Irony in First-Person POV

As an editor, my authors’ late-night, semi-coherent correspondence, choppy first drafts, and deepest darkest secrets die with me. However, today I am sharing an email exchange between an author and myself, with the author’s permission, of course.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"Space Cassette" by Humans Win

"Wichita" by Humans Win

"Before You Go" by Humans Win

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

As an editor, my authors’ late-night, semi-coherent correspondence, choppy first drafts, and deepest darkest secrets die with me. However, today I am sharing an email exchange between an author and myself, with the author’s permission, of course.

The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s settle into our usual table, and I’ll fill you in on some publishing news.

Tor Books is in the hot seat after creating a cover for the dark romance Gothikana by RuNyx using two Adobe Stock images that are labeled as being generated by AI. After a BookTok influencer posted about this online, many readers expressed their disappointment in Tor Books. However, Tor Books tweeted that while they didn’t realize that these images were AI generated, they were moving forward with the cover due to “production constraints”. What do you think? How would you feel if your publisher created your book cover using AI-generated images? Would you even care?

Longtime Writing Break listeners will remember the paper shortage in publishing caused by paper mills changing up what they were printing in order to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it appears the paper shortage is over, or nearly over, and a recent discussion between executives at three different printing companies revealed that part of the shortage was caused by printers purchasing as much paper as they could. One printer admitted that they’re still going through their stash.

ft out of the running for the:

What is doing better right now is love. Romance book sales are up, especially in LGBTQIA+ romance. Check the show notes for links to those and all of today's news stories, including two reports on how romance sections in bookstores are getting larger and romance-only bookstores are on the rise. I love love, so I thought it would be nice to visit one of those romance-only bookstores this episode.

Get ready, we’re going to Wichita.

Blush Bookstore in Wichita, Kansas, is adorable. In addition to romance novels, they sell many other reader-friendly items. They have pens, notebooks, and other writing supplies, of course, but they go the extra mile and stock fresh flowers, fuzzy slippers, and cozy sweaters.

This is one bookstore in which I cannot be left unsupervised. Luckily, you’re here, so let’s take a stroll around the shop and check out an independent author.

ra Scott is the winner of the:

“My world turned to shades of grey as I squared my shoulders and turned around. The woman with the short, dark hair and the blue scarf was the only source of color in the coffee shop. I seemed to glide across the floor until I found myself standing by her table. She had been stunning from across the room; up close she dazzled.

Suddenly, there was Sophie.....

On the surface, Jensy Willett appears to have it all: good friends, a storied basketball career, a great job, and most important, the love of her life, Sophie Barnes.

But there is a secret in Jensy Willett's past that she will not share. Not even with her beloved Sophie. That vow of silence will have far-reaching ramifications when a chance encounter results in a disastrous decision. A decision that will tear at the fabric of Jensy and Sophie's relationship and send them spiraling out of control.

Can their relationship be saved?”

The Touch of Her Voice is available in paperback and ebook formats, and it’s free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

Now, let’s head back to the Writing Break cafe to discuss today’s writing tip while lounging on the Overthinking Couch.

One of my talented clients sent me a question from deep within the pages of his latest work in progress. It's about dramatic irony, which, in short, is when the reader knows something the characters don’t know. Fun fact: It’s not called dramatic irony because it’s exaggerated but because it originated in ancient Greek drama.

Not only do I have his permission to share this Q&A with you, but it was he who suggested I do so. First, his question:

“I'm working on a first-person novel and would appreciate your insight into best practices for developing suspense through dramatic irony considering the limitations of that POV. My protagonist believes he is a partner in a criminal enterprise when he is really being set up as the fall guy. I need the audience to know things he doesn't but if I make the clues too obvious then I'm risking making him look stupid, and if they're not obvious enough then I'll have no suspense. I'm trying to avoid the heavy hand of retrospective regret (if I knew then what I know now etc). Considering present tense which would eliminate that method anyway.”

Great question, and while I haven’t read any of this manuscript . . . yet . . . I did my best to answer. I provided 4 suggestions, not all of which were focused on dramatic irony, and if you’re up for a thrill, why not pause here and see if you can come up with 4 or more suggestions before listening to mine? OK, here was my answer:

There should be a reason he is confident, or perhaps overconfident, in his position within the criminal enterprise (e.g., special skills or connections, did a big favor for them once, nepotism).

The protagonist should have a character flaw that supports his confidence (e.g., arrogance, sycophant, delusions of grandeur). He is not stupid, but his flaw skews his perception in certain situations. Rather than retrospective regret, he could have a character arc that removes this flaw and possibly even swings the pendulum in the other direction (for additional chaos).

Other characters could call out his flaw via dialogue.

There should be anecdotes about eliminating other people within the organization that makes the reader wonder if the protagonist is really safe.

So, did I miss anything? Let me know. Until next time, thank you for listening, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.