Draft to 50K: Point of View

Blank to 50K(2)Point of view is the essentially the narrator’s position, how the story is told. Ideally, you should decide this before you start writing, though I’ve been known to switch partway through a book. In fact, when I first wrote Fatal Impulse, it was in first person. I got all done and my editor suggested third person. I changed the manuscript (a HUGE undertaking!), but think it was a better book for the change.

Here is a brief overview of each common POV, along with my bewares and tips:

First Person

This is the “I” version. The story is told from the viewpoint character’s point of view. That person must be able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel everything that you write.

Beware: it is very difficult to really get into your character’s head, and to avoid telling the story.

Tip: Get closer. For instance, instead of saying, “I heard the boom of thunder,” say “The window glass vibrated with the boom of thunder.”

Third Person

Third person is the he/she version. The story is still told from a character’s point of view, but through the filter of the author. Again, the person must be able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel everything that you write.

Beware: Headhopping is a common mistake. Remain in one character’s head per scene or, better yet, per chapter.

Tip: Add internalization. Much can be said by what the character thinks as opposed to what he/she says. Sharing your POV character’s thoughts is a way to put your reader in the characters head. There’s no need for italics or saying he/she thought. Simply write the character’s thought. The reader will get it. Trust me.

 Second Person

Second person is you did this, you did that. The story is told from the reader’s point of view. The narrator tells the reader what is happening to him.

Beware: This should be used sparingly. It can be jarring to the reader, and is tricky to pull off.

Tip: In short bursts, this can be useful because it truly does put the reader in the character’s shoes. Read the first chapter of Harlen Coben’s The Innocent for an example of how this can be used effectively.

Draft to 50K: Which tense?

Blank to 50K(2)You have your characters, you understand point of view, but what about tense?

Tense places your reader in time. It gives your story a framework: present? past? Think about your favorite novel. What tense was it written in? Pick out a handful of novels that are similar to what you want to write – what tense are they written in?

Present

Present tense is written as if the action is happening right now. Jane swims to the other side of the creek. This is seen often in YA currently, and can work very well in short fiction where every word counts and you really want to pack a punch.

  • Immediate
  • Energizing
  • Engaging
  • Adds punch

Past

Past tense is written as if the action has already occurred. Jane swam to the other side of the creek. This is the most common tense, and has been for a very long time.

  • Traditional
  • Freedom to move in time
  • Pacing can adjust
  • Control

Whichever tense you use, make sure you are consistent. One caveat to that – no matter which tense you use, remember that you can adjust your tense through your character’s voice. For instance, if you write a story in the present tense, but can have your point of view tell a story in the past tense. The same applies in the alternative. You can write a story in past tense, but have a character speak in the present tense.

 

Blank to 50K: How to Plot a Novel

http://lorilrobinett.com

Plotter or Pantser

Writers are generally in one of two camps: Plotters or Pantsers.

Either one is fine. Either one works. But in order to decide what works for you, you need to know a little bit about it.

Think of Plotters as those who create a map before they start along the journey of writing the novel. As you draft your novel, you read your map and follow the directions until you reach your destination: The End.

Pantsers are folks who hop in the car and go, turning right or left on a whim. They may have a general idea of where they want to go, or they may be happy with wherever they end up. Personally, I tend to be a pantser. For me, the true joy of writing is when the characters chatter away in my head and I feel as if I’m channeling them when I sit down at the keyboard. That said, I do more plotting now that I’m more serious about my writing.

Ways to Plot a Novel

  • Outline: You’ve done outlines. Remember those outlines you wrote when you were back in school? Like that. Essentially, think of your novel as a three-part story. I. Beginning – II. Middle – III. End. Simple right? YES! Don’t try to make this too complicated. These are the basics, enough to get you started. Add subsections if you’d like, for the chapters, with scenes under that. My tip? Keep it simple, and don’t get too caught up in this step. You just need a general road map, not a turn by turn with maps. Drawback: this method is a little harder to reorder if you don’t like the way something flows.
  • Sticky Notes: This works especially well if you have a big, blank wall. You can also use the back of a door, or even a big piece of poster board. Think of this as a storyboard for your novel. Again, keep it simple. You don’t need to write a note for every single scene. Just hit the high points. Think about things that move the story along, actions that need to happen to move your story from the beginning to the end. My tip? Use different colored sticky notes to represent different things such as POV.
  • Index Cards: Holly Lisle offers excellent instructions on her website. In short, you will have an index card for each chapter, with different colors representing different POVs. Once you’ve got your index cards, you can move them around and come up with the best chronology to fit your story. My tip? Write how you want the chapter to end. That way, when you pick up an index card to write the chapter, you know where you’re going. See? There’s the map analogy again!
  • PowerPoint: This is the index card method, for those who prefer computers to paper. Each slide will be a chapter. Again, you can move them around to tweak the chronology.
  • Snowflake: This is the brainchild of Randy Ingermanson. The idea is to take the kernel of a story and build upon it, piece by piece, until you have a novel. Take a peek at his instructions and you’ll see that he recommends that you start with pre-writing, in order to lay the groundwork for writing your novel. Though this is technically plotting, it sure makes figuring out your plot a lot easier.

How to Pants a Novel

Okay, technically, if you’re a pantser, you just sit down and write. BUT . . . there are things you can do to make the process go a bit smoother.

Before you begin:

  • Write character sketches
  • Collect inspirational pictures of settings and characters, like this.
  • Know your genre

Once you begin, you need to provide yourself with fuel so you’ll have something to put on the page when you’re able to sit down. Here are a couple of things to try:

  • Talk to yourself. Ask yourself, “What can go wrong today?”
  • Email yourself a few sentences several times throughout the day

Each method, Plotting and Pantsing, has its advantages and disadvantages. Give whatever appeals to you a try, and be willing to trash it and start with a different method if it doesn’t work for you.

If you want to read a book that was done totally by the seat of my pants, check out Denim & Diamonds.

http://carypress.com/denim-diamonds-by-lori-robinett/

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett