Tuesdays With Story
July 4, 2012
editor Alicia Connolly-Lohr
“The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Last Night at the B & N:
Pam shares part 2 of her screenplay, Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt. Judith liked the characters but had a question about psychics and how much they charge. Pat thought it moved fast, but she wants to like or get to know the main character more than she does already. Also, does the psychic need to be such a vibrant character? Lisa thought so. But she’s having a problem following how the character thinks she can see the future. Alicia (Liam’s roommate) wonders if she could introduce it earlier. Aaron suggests having the manifestation appear so the main character sees it before anyone else. Pat thought the teacher’s character switched in the middle of the scene and found it disconcerting.
Judith shares the first part of her short story, The Man With the Broken Heart. Pat liked the style and could see the jumping in and out of the vignettes. She doesn’t know how they go together and neither did Lisa. The beginning consists of the thoughts running through a character’s mind as he dies. Andy sort of picked that up by the time he got to the end. The experimental writing style was a little hard to follow and lost him at some points. Alicia enjoyed her character descriptions. Jerry had a note about hyphens and dashes.
Amber shares Chapter eight and nine from Noble. Pam thought it was in a weird order and the discussion of the librarian should move up. She also thought Moira wouldn’t fall in with Bertram so quickly. Aaron thought it worked to bring up the librarian after the idea that naming something gives it power. Is it Ms. Noble now and forever, or should Moira tell Bertram to use her first name. Jerry wondered how Moira would see over the jock’s shoulder.
Lisa shares a rewrite of Chapter two of Follow the Yellow. Judith had a question of how blind the main character is. Andy thought she didn’t have to disclose that information until it comes up in the story. Pat thought the chapter got much tighter and flowed better. Rebecca liked that she doesn’t have the main character smelling another. Jerry wondered if it was just the bathroom floor to be heated or the floors, including the bedroom.
Jerry shares Chapter five of Thou Shalt Not Murder. Lisa had a problem with the abbreviation of A.J.’s name but she enjoyed the conversation between the characters that Jerry read. Pat wonders if the mother would use a different euphemism for if they were going to kill her son and if the orange jumpsuit is too recent. Jerry says it’s not. Judith liked the conversation with his friend’s buddy at the end of the chapter. Pam thought the Southern accents were a little inconsistent. Lisa thinks it reads authentic.
Who’s Up Next:
July 10: Terry Hoffman (chapter, The Great Tome), Rebecca (chapter 14, The Cheese Logue), Jack (one or two poems), Jen (another chapter of Hogoshiro Chronicles), Katelin (???).
July 17: Spike Pedersen (???), Andy Brown (chapter 1, Lo’s Quarter), Amber Boudreau (chapter 8, Noble), and Aaron Boehm (film script, part 3, “Stealing from Yourself”).
From: The How to Write Shop http://howtowriteshop.loridevoti.com/2012/07/point-of-view-types-tips/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HowToWriteShop+%28How+To+Write+Shop%29
Point of View: Common Types and 5 Tips for Strengthening
Posted by Lori Devoti on Jul 2, 2012
Point of view, it seems so simple, but it is so easy to screw up, and if you do, all your other hard work plotting and building characters my be for naught as your reader, frustrated with not knowing whose head they are in, flings your book across the room. First, let’s review…
The most commonly used types of point of view in today’s fiction.
First Person – Uses “I” pronoun. As close as a reader can get to a character. They live the story inside that character. They become that character.
Third Person Close – “He” or “She” pronoun, but gets in close to the character. Reader can hear the character’s thoughts. Very similar to first person. One trick to doing this is to actually write in first person then switch out the “I”s.
Third Person Objective – “He” or “She” pronoun, but never get in the character’s head. More distance from character. Objective is frequently used in prologues. Think “fly on the wall.” No internal thoughts from anyone including narrator.
Third Person Omniscient – Story teller is not part of the actual story, but knows everything that is happening, including all characters’ thoughts. This type of point of view was used more in the past by such authors as Tolstoy and Dickens. It is not as popular today. Omniscient narrator can also have own personality and offer thoughts on what is happening. Today this is frequently seen as “author intrusion.” “Little did he know.”
First Person Omniscient – Story teller is not part of the actual story, but knows everything that is happening, including all characters’ thoughts and the story is told with an “I” pronoun. There are very few ways this makes logical sense. Narrator would have to be godlike, dead, etc.
Five Tips for Strengthening Point of View
1.) First person and third person close will draw your reader into the story the most quickly and keep them there. Third person objective and omniscient are not as popular (in modern books) or as personal of a choice, but can be used if you do so knowing why you are using them and for a specific effect/outcome.
2.) Decide upfront whose point of view you should be in for this scene/chapter/book. The best point of view for a scene is the point of view of the person with the most to lose.
3.) Try to stick with one person’s point of view for as long as possible. Switching back and forth between points of view, even with a blank line to show shift, can be confusing. Really think “Do I need to make this switch? Will it enhance or detract from the reader’s experience?”
4.) Check yourself to make sure you are truly in the chosen character’s head. Would this character “know” the thoughts and events happening in this scene? Would they think in this manner? For example a 14-year-old girl witnessing a boy skateboarding through the mall is going to have a completely different reaction from a 40-year-old mother witnessing this same scene. Make sure you are not only in the proper character’s head, but also that you are not in YOUR head. Give us the character’s/narrator’s thoughts/reactions, not the author’s. (Unless you are using an omniscient narrator who is you—Note: I don’t recommend this for most books.)
5.) Avoid giving a character a point of view scene only for effect. Too many points of view can be confusing, and readers tend to latch onto characters whose heads they have been inside. Because of this, it is best to avoid showing a scene in a character’s point of view who readers will not meet again. Ideally, point of view characters are important enough to have their own story arc, even if it is a small one.
Have other tips? Or confused by which type is best for your story? Share!
Lori Devoti is the multi-published author of romantic comedy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She also writes the Dusty Deals Mystery series under the pen name Rae Davies. Look for her workshops at Write by the Lake (DCS University of Wisconsin), at various conferences, and here at the How To Write Shop. For more information, visit her web site.
Prolific author, Ray Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012 at 91 years of age. He was best known for his dystopian novel, Farenheit 451. An overview of his life and writings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Bradbury In light of his career, the blog, Open Culture revisited his 2001 speech in which he gave advice to young writers.
Ray Bradbury Gives 12 Pieces of Writing Advice to Young Authors (2001)
Like fellow genre icon Stephen King, Ray Bradbury has reached far beyond his established audience by offering writing advice to anyone who puts pen to paper. (Or keys to keyboard; “Use whatever works,” he often says.) In this 2001 keynote address at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium By the Sea, Bradbury tells stories from his writing life, all of which offer lessons on how to hone the craft. Most of these have to do with the day-in, day-out practices that make up what he calls “writing hygiene.” Watch this entertainingly digressive talk and you might pull out an entirely different set of points, but here, in list form, is how I interpret Bradbury’s program:
• Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”
• You may love ‘em, but you can’t be ‘em. Bear that in mind when you inevitably attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to imitate your favorite writers, just as he imitated H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and L. Frank Baum.
• Examine “quality” short stories. He suggests Roald Dahl, Guy de Maupassant, and the lesser-known Nigel Kneale and John Collier. Anything in the New Yorker today doesn’t make his cut, since he finds that their stories have “no metaphor.”
• Stuff your head. To accumulate the intellectual building blocks of these metaphors, he suggests a course of bedtime reading: one short story, one poem (but Pope, Shakespeare, and Frost, not modern “crap”), and one essay. These essays should come from a diversity of fields, including archaeology, zoology, biology, philosophy, politics, and literature. “At the end of a thousand nights,” so he sums it up, “Jesus God, you’ll be full of stuff!”
• Get rid of friends who don’t believe in you. Do they make fun of your writerly ambitions? He suggests calling them up to “fire them” without delay.
• Live in the library. Don’t live in your “goddamn computers.” He may not have gone to college, but his insatiable reading habits allowed him to “graduate from the library” at age 28.
• Fall in love with movies. Preferably old ones.
• Write with joy. In his mind, “writing is not a serious business.” If a story starts to feel like work, scrap it and start one that doesn’t. “I want you to envy me my joy,” he tells his audience.
• Don’t plan on making money. He and his wife, who “took a vow of poverty” to marry him, hit 37 before they could afford a car (and he still never got around to picking up a license).
• List ten things you love, and ten things you hate. Then write about the former, and “kill” the later — also by writing about them. Do the same with your fears.
• Just type any old thing that comes into your head. He recommends “word association” to break down any creative blockages, since “you don’t know what’s in you until you test it.”
• Remember, with writing, what you’re looking for is just one person to come up and tell you, “I love you for what you do.” Or, failing that, you’re looking for someone to come up and tell you, “You’re not nuts like people say.”
The Last Word/Food for Thought:
“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.”- Ernest Hemingway
An old college professor of mine used to say the greatest American novel ever was Moby Dick (Herman Melville). There is no consensus but some other books are frequently selected as among great American novels, including: The Scarlett Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne); To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee); The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane); The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald); The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck); Call of the Wild (Jack London); and Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell).