What I see when I look at you is different from what you see when you look at me. Sounds obvious, no? But it’s very easy to slip up on this one.
I’m going through a manuscript and verifying there are no egregious errors. That gets more tricky because as part of the revisions I had to re-write some scenes from a different character’s point of view (POV). I’m doing a pass now specifically looking for moments when I slipped up and had a character start thinking about something they would never stop to consider. I think I’ve got most of them out, but I keep finding internals or visuals that are still from the original character’s POV.
“I hate thinking about point of view,” the heroic Handsomas thought as his chestnut locks flowed down over his manly shoulders to his rippling biceps. He looked the heroine up and down, his sapphire-blue eyes gleaming like the ripples on the lake near the cottage where he grew up, poor but smug.
It’s no comfort that I even see versions of this error in published books. Speaking as a human being, I rarely think of my bright blue eyes and flowing brown hair, let alone the fact that I grew up poor but smug.
Whether you write in first person, third person or shudder second person all depends on the effect you’re trying to achieve. But whichever you chose, be sure to stay in that POV while you’re in the scene.
Writing a scene that stays completely in the point of view of the character who has the most to lose can immerse the reader within a story. Breaking POV can throw a reader out of the story so fast that they stop reading and don’t come back.
How dare they not SWOON at the mere PRIVILEGE of being in the presence of a work of such INCREDIBLE genius?
One good thing about entering writing contests is that I got really good at receiving criticism about my writing. I didn’t always agree with the criticism. Sometimes it was infuriating, especially when someone corrected my grammar but didn’t know what they were talking about.
But I found that in one respect, it didn’t matter. Unless the critic was unreservedly enthusiastic, a little part of me felt miffed. I call that part my Inner Diva. Its ego knows no limits, and even the slightest breath of criticism causes the same reaction:
How dare they not SWOON at the mere PRIVILEGE of being in the presence of a work of such INCREDIBLE genius???
(Inner Diva is rather fond of multiple punctuation marks.)
So I’ve learned to allow for that reaction. Whenever I get feedback, I read it, write a thank you (the critic is trying to help me, after all) and then I set it aside and get on with something else. If the criticism was especially harsh, I have to clean something or go outside and pull weeds. Something that involves setting the world to rights.
Then I go back after a couple days and re-read the feedback. Often, on a second reading, the words on the page have magically rearranged themselves so that the critic is much less harsh and much more balanced and reasonable. Sometimes I have to go out on and pull a few more weeds, but usually I can take in their comments and move on with writing.
Feedback is helpful. Feedback is your friend. Feedback is not always right — it’s your story, not theirs — but it really can improve your story.
Just pat your Inner Diva on the head and get on with it.
I’ve had this blog for five months now. Met some lovely people in the comments. Had visitors from North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Antipodes. On the down side, no curious people from Africa have checked out the blog. Greenland continues to snub me.
I’ve sold a book and turned in the manuscript. While waiting on feedback about my revisions, I worked on another Western romance. In terms of writing, I’d say this has been a good year. But I am ready for it to be 2017 already.
Next year, I am going to have enough time in my writing schedule to go back to my English Victorian novels.
Where do you see yourself in a year? And what plans to you have to make your goals become reality?
I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. – Roald Dahl
Why write? Because I can spend hours working on a chapter and not notice the time has gone by. Because I can create a world on a blank page.
Because I love doing it.
What are you passionate about? Are you doing it?
If you’re putting it off… do you have a scheduled time for when you are going to do what you love to do? Life is too short not to include something you’re passionate about in your days.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Gospel of Luke, 2:11-14
Why do people ask ‘How do you become a writer’? Does anybody ever come up to a musician and say ‘Tell me, tell me, how do I become a tuba player’? No! It’s too obvious.
Ursula K. LeGuin, On Writing
If you look at writing blogs, you’ve probably seen other articles like this one on things you need to do before you become a writer. They aren’t as well written as this one, but they all, every one, annoy me. The basic assumptions underlying the article are flat wrong.
Look, it’s really not that complicated.
There are innumerable things you could do before giving yourself permission to be a writer. But there are two things you need to do before becoming a writer.
Obtain something to write upon, such as a piece of paper.
Obtain something to write with, such as a pen.
Anything else might help you to become a better writer, and that’s great, but I hate the idea that you have to sit there with a checklist and tick off every box before starting to write the story that you need to tell.