Craft, Writing

What’s the point?

I have a dead zone in my brain. You know, that place where things you try to learn just won’t stick? If the formula for calculating percentages doesn’t dwell in mine, it’s definitely in the neighborhood. (Don’t tell my math teacher son.) Most tasks involving word usage reside in livelier areas, but one that doesn’t is the “point” referred to in the title of this post. That would be, Point-of-View—or POV if you’re into acronyms.

Oh, not everything about POV falls into my dead zone. I understand that it refers to which character tells the story and from what distance. I know the relevant terms: single, dual, multiple, omniscient, limited, unlimited, first, second, third, close. I’m aware of at least some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing in each, and I’ve written in all but one of them. Omniscient.

On second thought, I don’t remember everything I’ve written. I may have used omniscient at some point in my life, but probably by mistake. I’ve been told omniscient viewpoint was more popular in the past, so no doubt I came across it in the classics I’ve read. Today, literary writers most often use it. According to Elizabeth Lyon in Manuscript Makeover, it’s a viewpoint best reserved for use by “gifted” writers.

What I can’t retain is recognition of omniscient viewpoint—or maybe that it exists at all. Unless I’m forewarned, each time I encounter it I mistake it for an error, a POV slip by the author. (Revealing my ignorance today, aren’t I?) So, I go back and read about omniscient viewpoint and study the examples. I understand it. I think I’ll remember this time. Then whoosh, right into that dead zone it slips.

Maybe I’d have to use it in writing to make it stick in my brain. But I don’t want to. I’d probably do it wrong anyway. Lately, I’ve been looking at the characters in my WIP and wondering how long I can stick to my vow to write in single POV this time, but omniscient … nah.

Speak to me: What’s in your dead zone? Do you have any thoughts on omniscient—or any other POV? How’s the weather?

Fiction, Humor, Imagination, Inspiration, Novel, Writing

Did I just see a monkey?

A couple days ago, as I sat at the computer with the opening paragraphs of my finished-but-not-quite novel on the screen awaiting another edit, I glanced out the window hoping for some brilliant inspiration. It was a gloomy day, nothing much to look at, and my mind drifted. Then, just above my line of focus, I saw something jump from one tree to another. My first thought was Oh … a monkey! My second thought was HUH?!?!?! SockMonkey1

Now, in case you don’t know, I live in central California.There are no monkeys in the wild here. I’ve never lived where there were. So, why would my mind think such a thing? What strange things our minds are … and maybe especially, the mind of a fiction writer. I make things up. I imagine people, places, and events. Why not transform an ordinary squirrel into a monkey?

Oh! Wait … is my subconscious telling me I should have a monkey in my novel’s opening?