Monday, September 19, 2011

Choosing the Right Point of View

How many writers actively think about point of view and how they're going to tell their story?

If you as a writer, want to be successful, you'll give some thought to it before sitting down at your computer. It can make or break your story.

This became clear recently when I was critiquing stories by two of my fellow-members of the Port Yonder Press mentoring group I'm in this year.

I am most comfortable writing in 1st Person--i.e., I said, I did. And while I don't exclusively read first person stories, I am drawn to them more than their third person counterparts (i.e. he said, she did.)

This came across to at least one of my crit partners in a pretty obvious way--both of them got suggestions from me to switch from third to first person.

Why would I suggest this?

Because the story they were telling needed a more intimate experience, at least in my opinion.

There are a lot of reasons to take into account when you're choosing your point of view. Most authors and writing coaches indicate that scene-to-scene, you should write from the POV of the character who has the most to lose in any given scene. This works better when you're in 3rd Person, when it's more acceptable to switch from John's head to Mary's head, then pop into Peter's across three scenes.

But that's not always possible, especially if you're writing from a singular point of view, whether it be first person or a very tight third.

I ran into this problem when I was writing the first few drafts of Homebody. My problem? I'm a bit of a romantic at heart, and while Homebody is told in first person point of view, there were several scenes I needed to tell that would work best from a second person's perspective.

My solution?

A very unorthodox approach. I switched to 3rd person for several scenes so I could show things from MC Amanda's boyfriend's POV. Being able to work from Rick's (the boyfriend) perspective opened things up. I was able to show things that Amanda wouldn't know, including several scenes where Amanda wasn't even present. While he (Rick) doesn't show anything critical to the mystery in the story, it does open things up to the romantic side, one where Amanda has been cold far too long.

This is an approach I have seen infrequently in novels: the most notable example I can think of is a particular Alex Cross novel by James Patterson (although it's been several years since I've read any of James Patterson's work, so I can't recall which one.) But, it *is* out there, it's just used infrequently. The important thing to remember is you have to be a good storyteller before you start breaking the rules of storytelling. While I'm not sure I'm a great storyteller yet, this was what worked for me in how I tell this set of stories.

I'm hopeful an agent and an editor will agree.

Until next time,

Monday, September 12, 2011


I must apologize first off for my lapse in the last two weeks of posts. I got caught up in preparations for my trip, then forgot to finish and post the one post I had started! Argh! Hopefully, I won't have such a lapse again. Anyway, I'm back, and that's the important part. Now, if I can just get my PCs to cooperate with me...

Today is my post for the blog chain... and as is apt having just come off my vacation, I'm writing it today... that's how much I'm behind! The topic is "Coming Home".

I haven't had the benefit of even looking at anyone else's posts, so I have no idea where everyone has taken this.

But, I had a literal coming home experience last week, so I'll talk about that.

First, I should tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with traveling. I like being away from home, but I hate the inconveniences of being away--being in an unfamiliar area (so I don't sleep as well), having my kids way off schedule, and not having any time (or inclination) to write or read. The worst of these is usually having to sleep in a hotel (or even in a relative's home.) The mattress never feels right, and the surroundings are such that I sleep very lightly, awaking to every little sound, even if it's one that normally wouldn't bug me at home.

Chasm Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park
The drive home last week was lengthy. We were in NE Wyoming with family, and we left their home at 8:45 AM Mountain Time. TMOTH and I have done this drive in 12ish hours before, so I had hoped we'd be home by midnight (allowing for extra breaks.) By the time we'd been on the road for ten hours, we'd stopped 8 times. Yeesh.

It seemed the miles came slowly, driving across four states in order to get home. Stopping for the night wasn't an option: TMOTH had to be at work the next morning. When we stopped to pick up my dog from Grandma, it was 12:30 AM Central, and we had one more hour to go.

Getting home was great. I was so relieved when we pulled up. Even when we walked in and found the place smelled like the garbage can we'd forgotten to take out when we left. (Poopy diapers left for 8 days don't smell that great--let me tell you!) I was just so relieved to be home, to be able to drop into my own bed.

There were a lot of reasons to be relieved to be home. Our car had actually made it! In Colorado, we were climbing Pike's Peak, and the car was acting very strange. We had to stop because our toddler, who is potty training, needed to use the bathroom. While we were doing this, we left the car running (hubby was afraid to shut it off) and it was sputtering and just not acting right. With our little boy in the car (asleep) and hubby off utilizing the men's room, my daughter and I were standing outside, taking pictures and the car just died! That's a little scary, when you're halfway up a mountain, and you don't know how you're going to get back down.

Fortunately, TMOTH is a mechanic by trade. He recognized what the car was doing, and determined that we had to let the engine cool down. We ended up making it to the summit, but the next day was spent in Denver, locating parts to replace a part of the engine.

What a way to spend a vacation!

So you can see why I was most relieved on our home coming. Things could get back to normal. Our car wasn't in perilous danger due to altitude. And I could sleep in my own bed.

At least I had a break from writing--and I'd recently just finished writing "Cora's Song" before leaving. On the way home, I figured out my laptop's fan had gone dead. Which definitely puts a damper on the whole writing thing. But, I'd at least gotten a preliminary read of K.M. Weiland's new "Outline Your Novel" done. I'll be doing a review here in a few weeks once it's officially released. I'll say this: I'm actively outlining again. This is a good thing.

I know this is a pretty disjointed post, and I apologize. Hopefully you can make sense of my version of Coming Home.

Until next time,

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