Skip to content

Tag: writing tips

Moving Forward When You (or Your Characters) Are Stuck

As I was writing along a couple of days ago in the paranormal romance that I am working on, I finished writing a scene that was really exciting. I had done a rough outline of the book to start with, but my plans have recently changed, and my characters’ motivations have changed along with them. So, at this point—as I am mostly pantsing it—I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to keep moving forward.

Anyway, this scene was really intense. It got my blood pumping and my heart racing. I wanted to run over and tell my husband all about it, even though he hasn’t the slightest interest in paranormal romance. However, when I sat down to write the next scene the following day, I felt a little stuck. Now that this big scene was over, there was definitely some conflict between my main characters, and neither knew just what to do to fix it and/or move on. I stared at the screen for a while before closing out Scrivener and switching over to my freelance work.

While I was working, I kept stewing on the situation in my story so that I could get my daily writing in later. At some point, I had my a-ha moment. What I had to do was to go back to the basics for a little while and ask myself questions that would give me the answers that I needed.

In my case, because my characters were not yet ready to kiss and make up, I went back to my character sheets and asked myself the question, “What do my characters do when they are stressed?” I had already answered the question for one of these characters without really realizing it. She liked to hike as a hobby, and she also liked to walk to relieve stress. In an earlier scene, when she was afraid and overwhelmed, she took off and walked the city streets. As for my other character, it was time to develop that side of her as well before moving on. She had already faced a life-or-death situation and reacted quickly, maybe rashly, to save the day (maybe), but how would she react when the woman she loved looked at her with hate in her eyes? Would she analyze it, run away, feed her feelings, take a run, get defensive? The answer to those questions will help me write the next scene and move on with the story. By taking notes, I will also have resources for future scenes that will help me to develop a more fully featured and believable character.

So, if you are stuck and have written an outline or taken notes, go back to your plan and see what is supposed to come next. Examine how your characters would react to the situation at hand in a way that is uniquely their own. If you haven’t got notes or an outline, now is the time to start! In the process, always make sure that your character motivations are well grounded and that the transitions from event to event are believable. It can be easy when outlining to list events A, B, and C without giving reasons why one leads to another.

So, sit down with your story, your notes, and your character sheets and ask yourself some general questions (like “What would X do when Y?”) until you find the answer that helps you move forward. Don’t be afraid to do a little revising of your plot if it doesn’t fit with your excellent characters or to do a little revising of your characters if they don’t fit with an excellent plot. It will give you what you need to keep your story moving forward.

Update October 8, 2016: This one move has helped me immensely since I wrote this six months ago. This book is now over 50,000 words long, and I expect to have finished it by the end of November. Knowing the ways in which my two main characters react to basic situations and feelings has moved the story along in a scene–sequel/action–reaction pace that is natural and feels good to write. I’m still learning and polishing this technique, but it’s proven indispensable!

Resource

“Writing Patterns Into Fiction: Scene and Sequel,” Raven Oak (guest blogger), at Writers Helping Writers

 

 

 

1 Comment

SUNDAY REBLOG: 7 Ways to Help You Be Precise in Your Writing | Live Write Thrive via @CSLakin

After a week off to recover from bronchitis, I am back to share a great post from Live Write Thrive guest author Dawn Field. This post gives you some tips on how to evoke the feelings you want in your writing without using too many words. Read it, and see what I mean.

Today’s guest post is by Dawn Field: The best books suck you into an alternative world in a single sentence. Ideally, it happens in the opening sentence. Some take a paragraph—others longer. …

Source: 7 Ways to Help You Be Precise in Your Writing | Live Write Thrive

Leave a Comment

The Importance of Point of View: Part IV: Third Person

Welcome back! In this final installment in my series on point of view (POV), I will be discussing the most popular point of view used in fiction: third person. The different points of view and the use of first-person and second-person POVs were covered earlier in this series.

Third person is popular for a reason. It is very flexible. You can choose to show your fictional world from many viewpoints and intimacy levels within one POV.

Third-Person Omniscient: You can show the reader your world from completely outside the characters and setting yet be able to relate—or refuse to relate—the thoughts and actions of each at your own whim or for your own devious intentions (e.g., to drive your reader crazy with suspense).

Third-Person Objective: Again, you can show your reader your world from the outside but, in this case, refrain from getting inside the characters’ heads. Only actions, narrative, and description are used to tell your story. All thoughts and feelings must be learned or inferred by the reader from these elements.

Third-Person Limited: With this POV, you can take a more intimate approach and get up close and personal with one of your characters. This can be a single character in a novel (also referred to as third-person single POV) or multiple characters (also referred to as third-person multiple POV). The latter can be distinguished from third-person objective in that at any one time in the story, only the viewpoint of one character is shown. In this case, any shifts from one character to another must be done carefully, such as through a natural break in the story with a scene shift or new chapter.

As with the previous weeks, I will demonstrate third-person POV (limited in this case) with a short scene from The Magician’s Wife. This same scene was covered in the first-person and second-person POVs in my previous posts.


Excerpt, The Magician’s Wife by Janell E. Robisch

“Sarin, you must be careful.”

“Lew, do not speak that way. There is nothing to worry about. It is just another spell. As soon as Kaleo arrives with the herb, everything will be fine.” Her voice was shaking terribly despite all her efforts to remain calm. After wringing a warm cloth between her trembling hands, she applied the compress to her husband’s cheeks and forehead.

“Sarin, look at me, at my face!” he said, pulling her wrist and the cloth down.

Reluctantly, she brought her eyes to his, blinking back tears. His green eyes were bright, but the flesh around them was pale and drawn. Moving his hand to hers, he squeezed gently. “Sarin, this is the last time. The Guardians are calling me. It’s time to go.”

“No.” She shook her head hard and felt her hair brush the sides of her face. It usually annoyed her, but now it seemed unimportant.

Lew’s eyes focused on her once more. “Listen to me Sarin, you have to be careful with the magic. Do not trust anyone. Do not tell anyone. If I had known . . . . I never should have taught you anything.” She heard no malice in his voice, only fear and regret. “You must promise me to be careful.”

His lips faded to a lighter shade of pink as if all his blood were rushing down to his ailing heart, but Sarin knew the truth. She could feel its beat slowing as surely as if it were her own. Soon, it would stop.

“I promise,” she nodded. “I promise.” The truth of his departure was becoming clear to her as the emerald sparkle of his eyes finally began to fade.

As a warm tear slid down her nose, Sarin made the four-pointed sign of the Guardians over her husband’s chest. “I love you,” she whispered, burying her face in his shoulder, inhaling his scent as if she could hold on to it. She felt his cool, weak hand rest on her neck. “Don’t forget me.”

“Never, my little star. Never.”

The hand slipped ever-so-slowly from her neck, and Sarin broke into sobs, her fists buried in Lew’s tunic, knowing she would never hear his sweet voice again.


Now that you have read all three, which do you prefer for this scene?

Resources

Deep POV—What’s So Deep About It by Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog

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

Using Third Person Multiple POV by Mac Hopkins, Scribophile Writing Academy

What Point of View Should You Use in Your Novel? (First Person? Third Person?) by James V. Smith, Jr., Writer’s Digest

2 Comments

The Importance of Point of View: Part III: Second Person

In the third part of this series, I discuss writing fiction in the second-person point of view. In the first part of the series, I introduced and defined the basic points of view, and in the second part, I discussed the first-person point of view in more detail.  In this part, we’ll be discussing the seldom used second-person point of view.

Second person actually has a special place in my heart and in my origins as a writer. I started thinking of myself as a writer when I was a freshman in high school when an English teacher assigned us to write three pages a day of anything in a journal. Shortly after, I met the girl who would become my best friend. Somehow, during late-night gab sessions, we started a tradition of telling each other stories. These were almost always told in second person. They were told out loud and on pieces of paper passed as notes in class. They were full of adventure, romance, and anything that appealed to us. We met our favorite stars and fell in love.

The second person made that all possible. Writing and telling a story in the second person gave me the power to pull at the heartstrings of my friend, to see her reactions firsthand. It wouldn’t have been the same if the story was about “Kelly” or “Sadie.” It was about her and only her. It was a unique experience as a writer, to be able to share my story directly with my audience and to personalize it as I watched her responses minute by minute. It has been an experience that I’ve often wished for nowadays when I ask myself whether my audience will find a certain passage as exciting as I do.

However, the use of second person, especially in a novel aimed at the general public, is not for the faint of heart.

“If taking a gamble is not your thing, forget about second person point of view and stick to the ‘safe’ choices of first person or third person.”
Second Person Point of View, Novel Writing Help

It is the least commonly used point of view and can be seen as a cop-out.

“Like the one-sentence paragraph, the second-person point of view can also make us suspect that style is being used as a substitute for content.”
Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

So, one must be careful about using second person. However, when used effectively, as in the Choose Your Own Adventure books, it can be an effective way to pull your reader into the story in a way that is not possible with the other points of view.

As I promised, this week I have rewritten my scene from The Magician’s Wife in second-person point of view. Read it, compare it with last week’s excerpt, and see how it strikes you.


Excerpt, The Magician’s Wife by Janell E. Robisch

“You must be careful.”

“Do not speak that way. There is nothing to worry about. It is just another spell. As soon as Kaleo arrives with the herb, everything will be fine.”

Your voice was shaking terribly, although you were trying desperately to be calm for Lew’s sake. You wrung a warm cloth between your trembling hands and gently applied it to his cheeks and forehead. Oh, my darling husband!

“Look at me, at my face!” he said, pulling your wrist and the cloth away.

You didn’t want to, but you looked at his eyes, your own blinking back tears. His green eyes were bright, but the flesh around them was pale and drawn. You reached out to touch that bit of skin, as if by doing so you could bring the life back into it. You felt his hand touch yours, and he squeezed gently. “This is the last time. The Guardians are calling me. It’s time to go.”

“No.” You shook your head hard and felt your hair brush the sides of your face. It seemed so unimportant.

“Listen to me. You have to be careful with the magic. Do not trust anyone. Do not tell anyone. If I had known . . . . I never should have taught you anything.” His voice was soft. “You must promise me to be careful.”

You touched his lips as they faded to a lighter shade of pink. It was as if all of his blood were rushing down to his ailing heart, but you knew the truth. You could feel its beat slowing as surely as if it were your own. Soon, it would stop. You thought your own would stop with it.

“I promise,” you nodded. “I promise.” The familiar emerald sparkle of his eyes began to fade.

You could feel warm tears sliding down the side of your nose as you made the four-pointed sign of the Guardians over Lew’s chest. “I love you,” you whispered, burying your face in his shoulder. You felt his cool hand rest on your neck with the lightest of touches. “Don’t forget me.”

“Never, my little star. Never.”

His hand slipped slowly from your neck, and you couldn’t help it. A sob burst from your mouth. You grabbed his tunic in both fists, wrecked by the knowledge that you would never hear his voice again.


The Importance of Point of View Part IV: Third Person

Resources

Popular Second Person Books, Goodreads
“Why I Wrote a Novel in Second Person: A debut novelist takes a chance and finds her voice,” by Angelina Mirabella, Publisher’s Weekly

1 Comment

SUNDAY REBLOG: This Itch of Writing: the blog: Showing and Telling: the basics

This is a very informative article on the differences between showing and telling and the gradations of each. There are great examples of how to use this knowledge to improve your fiction mindfully.

 

showing, telling, show don't tell, fiction

Source: This Itch of Writing: the blog: Showing and Telling: the basics

Leave a Comment
%d bloggers like this: