Monthly Archives: September 2017

Point of View

Credit: theodysseyonline.com

The correct point of view (pov) can make or break your novel. The reader wants to be drawn in and feel like they’re part of the story, and this happens through point of view.

New writers often believe that the omniscient point of view is the one they should write in. That way, the reader can know everything that is happening in the story. Makes sense, doesn’t it? At first glance, it does. Omniscient point of view does have its place, and works very well for certain types of story, but it takes a seasoned writer to do a masterful job of this pov.

Party Stories

When you’re at a party, or meeting a friend, and you tell a story – think about what you do and say. Chances are you’re going to be using first person (I) and, if you’re like me, gesturing a lot and getting extremely animated. Using first person, allows you to bring in this personal aspect into the storytelling. It does force you to tell the story only from that person’s viewpoint, but there are ways around that too.

Chances also are that the person who’s telling the story is also the most important person in the story – otherwise, why is he telling the story? He’s the only one who knows the story intimately and that’s the beauty of this pov – that intimacy will shine through. We are in that person’s world, feeling what he feels, doing what he does, and being crushed when he is. It’s probably the easiest pov to write as well, since we can immerse ourselves into the character’s emotions and thoughts.

Third person point of view works too. Although it does not have the immediacy of first person, it is the pov that works for most novels. It also allows you to use other characters’ voices in the story. Definitely not as limiting as first person, but it’s a good idea to limit your pov’s to two or three people or you’ll end up getting as confused as your reader will be.

What pov do you like to write in?

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Breaking Down a Scene

Your story is made up of multiple scenes. It’s what moves your plot along and takes your character to his/her goal.

Every scene can be broken down into five parts:

1) Point of View Character

If you are writing from a first-person POV – then you have no problem figuring out who your POV character for the scene is. If not, think of which person has the most at stake, emotionally – and bingo, that’s the person whose POV you should write the scene in.

2) Goal

What is the goal that the POV character is pursuing in this scene? It can’t be something vague like ‘oh, he’s going to rescue the girl’. He needs to be more concrete like ‘he’s going to choke her whereabouts out of the villain, after which he will pound them to a pulp’, then go rescue the damsel in distress.

Your goal must be clear, possible and important to the character

3) Conflict

Every scene must have conflict. That doesn’t mean there has to be a fight between characters. All it means is that the other person must have specific goals as well, and they should be at odds with the pov character. We don’t need to know what the other person’s goals are at that time. They just need to be pursuing another agenda.

One of the characters in the scene will achieve his/her objective or goal, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the protagonist’s.

4) Setback/Disaster

As I said above, one of the conflict characters will achieve their goal (hopefully not the protoganist because then your story is limited). The protagonist can have some questions answered, some small goal achieved, but always foiled in some way until the end.

5) Scene End

End your scene on a bit of a cliff hanger. Hopefully, not only has your heroine not achieved her goal, but has made her life worse – and your story more interesting.

You might also like this post from Writer’s Digest:

How to Fail as a Writer

Here are a few ways to ensure you fail as a writer. Let me know if you can think of a few more.

1. Start your novel off with plenty of back story. After all, your readers will want to know all that before they actually get to the exciting stuff. Under no circumstances, jump right into the inciting incident so that you can grab the reader’s attention immediately, and keep them flipping pages and salivating to find out more.

2. Don’t bother to write more than your first draft. You find it interesting, so of course everyone else will. There may be logistical problems with your story, but hey! the reader can figure it out. Why bother with having someone critique it, and why bother writing a second, third, or fifth draft so that the story is compelling, thrilling and exciting.

3. Spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical errors – who cares about them. Of course, it’s quite easy to use spellcheck – but really, why bother?  What’s important is the actual story, so readers won’t care.

4. Writing is an art form, so working on your novel should only be done when the muse smacks you over the head. There is no hard work involved, no craft to learn. It’s easy peasy, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. All those great writers like John Steinbeck and Hemingway – well, the prose just flowed out of them. It was a gift. They didn’t do any work, why should you?

5. Reading is for chumps. If you read the type of stories you like to write, it will hinder your ability to be original. Just write what you know, and others will read it when it is published – because of course your novels will be published – you’re that good, and everyone will know it immediately.

6. Make sure your ending fizzles out. After all, the ending isn’t that important. Readers don’t care. They don’t want to close a book feeling satisfied, do they?

7. You’ve written your manuscript – it’s your first draft, not proofed, not critiqued, but you know it’s good and every literary agent is waiting with bated breath to sell it to the highest bidder. Don’t bother researching agents to find out who represents your genre; don’t bother writing a proper query and don’t bother finding out how to spell the agent’s name. You’re a shoo-in.

Writers – what do you think?

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