Skip to content

Month: December 2015

The Importance of Point of View: Part I: The Types of POV

Welcome to the beginning of a short series of posts on point of view (POV). Point of view, or the perspective from which a story is told, is so very important, yet so many writers either neglect to choose it carefully or else fail to use it to its full potential. In this series, I will first define various points of view. In upcoming posts, I will focus on each major POV and illustrate each with a short scene written from that perspective. For comparison, I will use the same scene each time and leave it up to you, the reader, to decide which is most effective in this particular case.

 

What are the Different Points of View?

1. First person: I, I, I. First person is all about “me.” This intimate point of view allows you to get inside the mind of one character. A successful example of this is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Butcher puts you into the mind of Harry Dresden, Wizard, and keeps you there for 15 books and counting. This doesn’t mean that the reader knows everything that Harry is thinking, but it does mean that everything the reader knows is colored by Harry’s own thoughts and experiences.

2. Second person: You, you, you. Second person is all about you. The story is directed to you and is about you. Granted, because of its trickiness, this isn’t a popular POV, but it can be effective if your goal is to take the reader on a journey of possibilities. For a list of some popular books written in the second person, take a look at this discussion on Quora.

3. Third person: He, she, they. Third person tells the story from “above.” You may think that this means that the reader sees all and hears all. However, this is the most flexible of the POVs. A writer can choose to use the third person yet show only the thoughts and feelings of the main character in a manner almost as intimate as first person. Alternately, she can travel in the opposite direction and show readers only what happens and distance them from the the inner workings of the characters’ minds. There are many possibilities, and I will explore them later in this series.

Please note that while most good novels find a certain point of view and stick to it, occasionally, a situation calls for switching up POVs throughout your novel. Rules were always meant to be broken but only if you can do it well!

The Importance of Point of View II: First Person


Resource: The Power Of Point Of View: Make Your Story Come To Life by Alicia Rasley


 

4 Comments

Character Motivation: Sunday Reblog

Should your characters change during your story? The state of your the actors in your plot can drive your story or make it stagnant. This excerpt from an older post at WritersDigest.com is worth another look. Read on.

 

characters

 

4 Ways to Motivate Characters and Plot

Some of your characters will change during the course of your story—let’s call them changers. Others—stayers—will not change significantly in personality or outlook, but their motivations may nonetheless change as the story progresses from situation to situation. Both changers and stayers can have progressive motivations.

Confused? Don’t be; it’s simpler than it may seem. Characters come in four basic types:

By Nancy Kress

  1. Characters who never change, neither in personality nor motivation. They are what they are, and they want what they want.
  2. Characters whose basic personality remains the same; they don’t grow or change during the story. But what they want changes as the story progresses (“progressive motivation”).
  3. Characters who change throughout the story, although their motivation does not.
  4. Characters who change throughout the story as their motivation also progresses.

When you know the key motivation(s) behind your character and plot, you can write scenes that not only make sense to you and your readers, but also add depth to your story. Because character and plot are intertwined, we’ll refer to the above four as character/plot patterns. Let’s further explore each one.

 

Continued at 4 Ways to Motivate Characters and Plot | WritersDigest.com

 

What are your favorite ways to balance your characters and their motivation to keep your story moving forward? Do you prefer them to be static or dynamic?

Leave a Comment

What Is a Beta Reader? (Updated November 2017)

“What is a beta reader?” As a writer and editor, I am a member of many writing groups, both online and off, and I hear this question with surprising frequency.

For simplicity, you can head over to Wikipedia and get this definition:

“[A] beta reader…is a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling…[and give] suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting.”

Beta readers usually, but not always, provide this service free of charge.

Why Do I Need a Beta Reader?

In most cases, a novel will require several drafts before it is ready for publishing. Unless you’ve got plenty of money to spare, you might not want to pay for a professional editor at every stage. Optimally, your novel should be read and critiqued by a small group of people in addition to yourself. A small pool of beta readers will give you a variety of opinions on what can be done to improve your novel, from small details, such as spelling and punctuation mistakes, to big issues, such as flaws in plot and characterization.

What Should I Look for in a Beta Reader?

Having beta readers is like having a small focus group for your novel. Look at them like a small sample of your potential audience. With that in mind, look for beta readers that like to read in the genre or niche where your novel falls. Asking a person who reads only business texts to read your suspense novel will probably not get you feedback that will be relevant to your audience. In addition, dependability and attention to detail are also important.

Where Can I Find Beta Readers?

A few resources include:

1. Writers Groups: Your fellow writers may be more than willing to read your work and give you feedback, especially in exchange for the same favor from you. These groups can be in-person or online. For example, there are many fiction writing groups on Facebook, some of which provide a forum for critiques.

2. Friends and Family: The people that you are close to may be chomping at the bit to get a first look at your story, and even if they are not, they will often be willing to do you the favor of giving you a bit of advice on it. Don’t forget to ask your Facebook friends! This is a time when those overly critical relatives might come in handy, as you don’t want your beta readers to ignore flaws in the manuscript in order to save your feelings.

3. Online Forums: There are many online sources for beta readers. These include Wattpad, Goodreads, and many others.

If you have patience and an open mind to accept their feedback, beta readers can be a great boon to your writing process and can help you improve your novel and perhaps even your future writing.

Be sure to click on my Resource Editors for Fiction Writers for more info on finding beta readers and dealing with beta reader feedback.

What is the best thing a beta reader has done for you? Have you had a bad experience with beta readers? Finally, where did you find your beta readers? Help other writers out by leaving a comment below!

Leave a Comment

SUNDAY REBLOG: Writing Mechanics: Scene Structure as a Mini Novel | Live Write Thrive

Is your scene structure moving your story forward? This week’s reblog comes from C. S. Lakin’s Live Write Thrive. It is the final installment in a series of 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing.

This month we wrap up our yearlong look at the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing. Editor Rachel Starr Thomson opens up our look at Fatal Flaw #12: Flawed Writing Mechanics. We’ll be looking a…

Source: Writing Mechanics: Scene Structure as a Mini Novel | Live Write Thrive

Leave a Comment
%d bloggers like this: