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?

Advice, Characters, Craft, Dream, Fiction, Scene, Tips, Writing

Frigid Fiction

The beginning of this post is rather … unusual, and to lessen my chances of it getting search hits of the wrong sort, I will use creative spelling.

Let’s just say a woman had a s.e.x dream and in this dream, though aware the act was taking place, she felt none of the usual physical sensations. Then, at the moment of what should have been an exhilarating s.e.x.u.a.l orgasm, she felt her soul being pulled out through her entire upper body instead.

As a writer, I might see this dream as an illustration why a scene I struggled through editing yesterday did not have the desired impact. Although the scene is written in deep third pov, I failed to convey the intensity of the character’s thoughts and feelings. Though I wanted the reader right there in the scene, I kept them far away from feeling the emotion of it. In effect, I ripped the soul out of what should have been a powerful scene.

It’s okay, we’re all adults. Let’s talk openly. Do you ever discover passages of frigid fiction in your writing?

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Characters, Editing, Fiction, Novel, Revision, Writing

Meanwhile, back at the keyboard …

I rose before dawn this Saturday morning; partly because the cat decided I should, but mostly because I kept waking myself to think about what I need to write next. I’m so near the completion of the writing now, that I’m anxious to move on to the next stage. As I said in an earlier post, I don’t write the way the books say I should. I submit for critique, revise and edit as I finish each chapter, so when I say I’ve finished writing the novel, it will be ready for one final edit, beta reader feedback, and then a final polish.

Before I complete Part II of my work-in-progress, I need to write one more scene. Not the end scene, that’s already written. This is an inserted scene suggested by some of my critique partners. So, while Jalal and Renee sit in the most creative corner of my mind discussing how they want to spend this peaceful, happy scene, I sit here at the keyboard cutting and pasting dialogue and narrative, from partial or whole scenes already written, into the new chapters that will comprise Part III of this novel.

I will change POV again for this last section and that’s an exciting challenge for me. Although Jalal is the true main character, being the only one who appears in all three sections, only Part II is written from his point of view. Part I is experienced through Meredith and now, in Part III, Renee will tell the end her way. This partitioning and POV selection seemed natural to me because the novel grew from a trilogy of stories. If, in the end, this doesn’t work, well …

You’ll find me, back at the keyboard …

Characters, Dialogue, Dream, Fiction, Inspiration, My Books, Novel, Writing

The art of balance

Anne Lamott says this about dialogue: “Suddenly people are talking, and we find ourselves clipping along. And we have all the pleasures of voyeurism because the characters don’t know we are listening. We get to feel privy to their inner workings without having to spend too much time listening to them think. I don’t want them to think all the time on paper. It’s bad enough that I have to think all the time without having someone else dump his or her obsessive-compulsive, paranoid thinking on me, too.”

I’m fairly strong on dialogue. For me, it’s the easiest part to write; it’s the narrative I struggle with. But I know I can’t have my characters talking non-stop, as some realworld teenage girls do … you know … like … bffs.  So, I have to go back and add some action, some description, some thoughts. Even then, as I write in close third pov, thoughts become another sort of conversation, which I tend to get carried away with. I have to remind myself to interject some action between spurts of inner monologue.

I think most of you who read my blog are writers, so I trust you’ll understand what I’m going to say next and not take the title of this blog literally. The idea for the novel I’m writing now came from a dream I had exactly a year ago. Initially, I wrote it down as a short story, somewhat loosely based on the dream, but the characters weren’t satisfied. Meredith protested that I hadn’t really told her full story. Jalal insisted that I didn’t really understand his devastation. And Renee informed me that I flat out just didn’t have a clue.

So, I said, “Tell me.” And for the last eleven months I’ve listened as they told me their stories. I’m fascinated when they talk to me, but when they don’t, I sulk, I get angry at time wasted, then I fear they won’t ever speak again. When they do speak, or think, I’m fascinated and gladly record it all. Of course, I also watch what they’re doing, I just don’t like to write that part out.

But <sigh> I know I also have to write the parts I don’t enjoy, otherwise …  all talk and no narrative will make this a dull book.

Characters, Critique, Editing, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Revision, Voice, Writing

Pollen, point of view, and people

It’s raining pollen here. Seriously. You can stand in my yard and watch it shower down around you, on you. My lovely red car, parked in the driveway, now has a fine yellow-green tint. Needless to say, I’m taking my allergy med.

I’m working on honing my deep-third point of view skills. I’ve already edited the first couple chapters to deepen Meredith’s pov, and I’m using it for Jalal as I write more in Part II. I found that I’ve always thought in deep-third, but revised it to just limited third as I typed. So now I can stop censoring myself. What I can’t stop is rewriting my first paragraph! I have seven versions so far, none of which sings to me. Or maybe I’ve gone deaf.

My bigger problem is that my critique partners were less than thrilled with the introduction of my third main character. So now, I’m trying to figure out how to revise that. Late last night, I finally realized a part of the problem. This character’s personality has changed from my original conception, but I failed to remove all traces of the former, causing a conflict with her current incarnation. She’s a great character and she’s exactly the right person to come into Jalal’s life at this point, but her introduction was clumsily executed. It’s back to the keyboard—eventually. For now, I’ll have to slam a few hundred Wii tennis and golf balls until I’m inspired. I’d rather play Bejeweled, Twist Text, or Candy Cruncher, but I really should exercise more than my mind. Really. I should.