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Posts from the ‘Writing point of view’ Category

Month In Review (September 2013)

Writing Novels in Australia has reached the end of its ninth month of articles for 2013 from this year’s line-up of monthly contributors encompassing aspiring novelists, early-career novelists and established novelists.

Writing Novels in Australia contributors Helene Young and Alison Booth are each attached to a novel writing retreat in 2014 with Novel Writing Retreats Australia.

You can connect with Writing Novels in Australia on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

Articles for September 2013

Using Observation And The Senses To Enhance Your Writing by Lia Weston

Knowing When To Take A Break From Your Writing by Phillipa Fioretti

When Our Fiction Impacts Readers’ Lives by Jenn J McLeod

On Sex Scenes In Novels by Alison Booth

Writing About The Future In Fiction by Ben Marshall

Refining The Tone Of Scenes When Editing A Novel by Helene Young

The Ups And Downs Of Writing A Novel by Onil Lad

Building A Profile As A Novelist by Kelly Inglis

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‘Month In Review’ Updates

For more articles on writing novels you can check out Writing Historical Novels and Writing Teen Novels.

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Writing Novels in Australia
www.writingnovelsinaustralia.com

Writing A Novel With Shifting Points Of View, by Greg Barron

Most people serious enough about writing to read this blog post will already know the basics of POV. You’ll know that, in general, a story is told from the perspective of one or more characters – that the story is “seen” through their eyes. The words you write describe the world as they walk, talk, eat and drink. You do your best to write so that the reader feels what the character feels, smells what they smell and hears what they hear.

In first person POV books this is straightforward. They are a great place for the beginner to start. So too with third person narratives that stick to the POV of one main character. The difficulties occur with complex, multiple POV stories, particularly where the writer follows the modern convention of restricting each scene to the POV of one character.

In more traditional styles, with an omnipotent narrator, the writer simply jumps from the mind of one character to another:

“You are a beast,” Ellie shouted, wondering how she could ever have loved him at all. 

“That’s your opinion,” Thomas snapped back. Yet he could see the hatred in her eyes. It unsettled him. Had he really been so mean to her? 

Modern readers and editors can find this unsettling. The one POV per scene rule is standard these days. There is, however, a problem when several POV characters get together. Sometimes, in a long book, you might have three or even four POV characters in the story all having a conversation. Whose POV do you use for the scene?

My usual answer is to use the dominant character’s POV but this doesn’t always work. They might have a relatively unimportant role at this point. I might choose the perspective of the character whose emotional reaction to events at hand is strongest. A nice touch might be to use a relatively unimportant player who can observe all your characters dispassionately and thus reveal information about them that has not yet been disclosed. You might choose the hostess of a dinner party, for example.

Most often, however, particularly in popular fiction, you want the lens of your writer’s telescope fixed on the mover and shaker, the character who is doing things, not having things done to them. If your dinner party involves a major character pulling a gun on another, accusing him of betraying his country, are you are better off with the reader’s eye looking down the sights of the gun or staring at the muzzle? This is not an exact science.

If you are writing primarily for women, you will probably take the POV of a woman. The opposite applies when writing for men.

Rules are made to be broken, of course, but jumping all over the place, from mind to mind, will not look professional unless you already have a track record as a successful writer. There are lots of little POV traps:

Sara followed him outside to the stables. 

“Wait here,” he said. 

She obeyed, standing, playing with her Blackberry while he disappeared inside, took down a blue nylon halter from the nail and returned leading a glossy black stallion. 

How does she know what he’s doing inside the stables? She doesn’t, so you can’t put it in there, unless you’re using an omniscient narrator. If it’s important to the story, you’ll need to write a little scene from his POV to explain what he does. If it’s not important, cut it.

Sometimes, with POV, you just have to go with your gut feeling. There are so many variables to take into account. My advice: write with the eyes and ears of your chosen POV character for the scene and you won’t get into too much trouble.

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Greg Barron’s author website: www.gregbarron.com

Greg Barron’s Bio Page

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Rotten Gods by Greg Barron - Australian novelistSavage Tide     Half Moon BayPromiseHouse for all Seasons by Jenn J McLeodThe Book of Love

Writing Novels in Australia
www.writingnovelsinaustralia.com

Point of View and Creating Suspense in Your Writing, by Jeff Nelson

Jack opened the bedroom door, walking into the room beyond. The fugitive, hidden behind the door, stepped out and shot him in the back.

Poor Jack. While the reader is likely to be surprised at his potential demise, where is the suspense that will capture the reader and draw them into the story? Particularly if the story is all about Jack and told from his point of view (POV).

Try using a different character POV – say that of the fugitive. I’ll call him Harry.

Harry nervously waited behind the door, his hands sweating, his heart pounding, as he could hear the cop’s footsteps approaching on the other side. He couldn’t let them take him, not again, he was prepared to kill rather than spend time in a cell again.

Jack opened the bedroom door ….

Better? The reader is now wondering what Harry will do, whether Jack will get a bullet or somehow avoids one. This is an example where the reader and current POV character (Harry) know more than another character (Jack). Harry knows the cop is on the other side of the door, but Jack doesn’t know Harry is.

Consider another POV this time from a third character, Steve a fellow police officer of Jack’s.

Steve lay on the rooftop, his binoculars trained on the apartment building opposite. Through a window he could see Jack in the apartment’s sitting room moving towards the bedroom door. Suddenly he saw a shadow move in the next window; someone was in the adjoining bedroom. Steve trained the binoculars on the bedroom window. It was the fugitive and he held a gun. The man had obviously heard Jack approaching and was waiting for him on the other side of the door. Frantically Steve reached for his mic.

Jack opened the bedroom door ….

Now the suspense is created by the reader wondering if Steve will be able to contact Jack via his mike and warn him before he steps into the room. Steve knows that the fugitive is there but Jack doesn’t.

I had an interesting conversation with Steve Rossiter of the Australia Literature Review recently on ways of adding different character point of views into a story to create and build suspense. Those conversations lead me to adjust and see clearer where my novel had to progress too.

We went through a number of ways that POV can be added:

1] Where the reader knows more than the current POV character.

For example the story will have already said earlier that the fugitive is hiding in the bedroom, so as we see Jack (in his POV) going for the door, the reader knows, but Jack doesn’t that the fugitive is inside the bedroom.

2] Where the reader and current POV character know more than another character.

Examples of this are the two given above using the different POV’s of Harry and Steve.

3] Where the reader and another character know more than the current POV character.

Here we could have the story telling how a tenant in the building where the fugitive is hiding sees him run into the apartment but doesn’t inform Jack as he hates Cops.

4] Where the current POV character knows more than the reader.

This is where the POV character knows or is planning something that hasn’t been revealed in the story yet. For example we could have Jack wearing a bullet proof vest, Jack knows he’s wearing it, but the reader doesn’t. It will come out later that he was wearing one.

…and finally

5] Where another character knows more than the reader.

I hope this helps in your writing.

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Jeff Nelson bio page

B is for Burglar: A Kinsey Millhone mysteryMoney RunConflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)Plotting and Writing Suspense FictionHitchcockThe Arvon Book of Crime WritingThe French Riviera: A Literary Guide for Travellers

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