"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Point of View

This is cross-posted form the Romance Divas message board.

I write in both first person and third person. For me, it depends on what I want to convey in the story. If I want to show multiple character's viewpoints, I usually write in third. But if I want to limit my story to just one viewpoint, then I'll write in first.

For example, one of the young adult stories I'm working on is a romance and I wanted to include the heroine's, the hero's and the villain's points of view because I thought that would create more suspense for the story. Plus, I wouldn't have to rely on my heroine to resort to out-of-character ways for her to figure out if the hero is into her or not. Plus, my heroine has a supernatural ability that allows her to pass through the waking/real world and the dreamscape without realizing it and it sort of makes her crazy because she looses her grip on what's real and what's only a dram. But since I didn't want to confuse the reader with what's real and what's not, I can switch to another point of view, to someone who isn't going crazy.

In another young adult story I'm working on, my main character is completely obsessed over this guy. From her point of view, he's perfect. But I switch to other characters' points of view to show that he isn't as perfect as she makes him out to be, and that he could be a potential villain.

But the futuristic urban fantasy novel I'm working on is entirely in first person. My narrator thinks she knows about the world, but there's a lot of stuff that she doesn't know. So I can use her ignorance to show the world I've created to both her and the readers. Also, I felt if I told her story from multiple points of view that I would give away too much of the plot and take out that suspense element (which is the opposite of my young adult romance I mentioned above).

I also got started writing in first person because I had a difficult time with head hopping and never knowing whose point of view I was supposed to be in. By writing in first person, I could only write what this one character can see, hear, smell, touch, feel, do, etc. and I think it's helped me improve my writing. I'm equally comfortable writing and reading either third person or first person stories.

One of the other factors I keep in mind before deciding which point of view to write in is what genre I'm writing in. Most romances tend to be written in third person from the hero's and heroine's points of view, while urban fantasy tends to be written in first person. But then paranormal romance can be written in either, chick-lit is usually written in first, and science fiction romance can be in either, same with paranormal YA and mysteries.

I think the only point of view mesh up I don't particularly care for is multiple first person, where there are multiple point-of-view characters, but every one is narrated in first person. To me this creates what I call a campfire effect where everyone is sitting around a campfire, including the villain, recounting what happened to them. It annoys me because it just doesn't seem believable to me. But then I'm reading a story now that's in multiple first that doesn't bother me too much. The main problem I have is that all the characters' voices sound the same or at least very similar so it can be difficult to keep the different characters apart and tell which character's point of view I'm actually in. But then, I envy the author who can do multiple first really well because they manage to give each point-of-view character a distinct voice.


In case you haven't noticed, I finally figured out how to post while using my iPad.

Friday, September 17, 2010

When Beginnings Don't Work

This is cross-posted from this thread at Absolute Write.

I'm just getting back into editing one of my favorite manuscripts again just because I've been agonizing over the beginning. My beta reader suggested giving it a more action-y opening, so I wrote a new scene and tacked it on at the beginning. But the problem was just that, it felt tacked on. My original opening was also rather info dump-y, so I cut back on a lot of tha. But it still didn't feel very engaging to me. I mean, I like the scene and I like the characters, but that's because I already know who they are. I couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong with the opening, or how to it, so I stopped working on it for a while.

Then I read Kristen's blog post about killer openings and wondered if my opening was suffering from a similar problem. So I read her other posts on beginner mistakes, unsuccessful openings, and why she passed on sample pages. And I started really thinking about my opening and exactly what kind of problems I and my beta reader were having with it.

Anyway, I have a more action-y opening now, and one that I think will be more enticing to readers. All I did was take the last scene from chapter two and move it to the first scene in chapter one. I'll have to rearrange some of my earlier scenes around to make it fit, but I'm much happier with my beginning now. Plus, by switching these opening scenes around, I've added to my main character's motivation (which was another thing I was struggling with). And I actually want to work on it for a change, rather than just going, yeah, I really need to finish that.

I guess I'm just trying to say that I like agent blogs that talk about the rules and I like reading threads on message boards that talk about the rules. Because even thought I've been writing for a while now, and I even minored in creative writing at college, I'm still learning. I usually don't pay attention to the rules while I write, but reading other people's blogs and message board posts helps me understand why something I did didn't work so that I can fix it into something that does work.


Reading this thread at the Absolute Write Water Cooler reminds me of one of my creative writing classes in college where my husband said he didn't like what I wrote and thought it could have been a lot better, then proceeded to list all the things he didn't like about it and why. Then all the girls in our class were like, but you're her husband, aren't you only supposed to say nice things about her? And my husband was like, not if I actually want her to improve her writing.

I almost always show my writing to my husband first just because I know he won't sugar-coat anything. He's not afraid to tell me what sucks, what doesn't work for him, where I'm being lazy and not writing at my best, or where my MC is being too passive. He's also not afraid to tell me what he likes.

I can always go to him for brainstorming. And he's not afraid to tell me if something's really stupid. Though there've been time when he'll later tell me this really cool idea and I'll have to remind him that he thought it was stupid when I first mentioned it. Of course, he doesn't think it's stupid now.