30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (7)

Note: I actually wrote this lesson yesterday. I wrote halfway through this and realized it didn’t belong as lesson 6. This is a good example of letting go of control as a writer. I outlined each lesson, organized them, researched for them, and still managed to run into a hiccup. No worries. Just postpone one chapter and figure out where to put it later. In our Editing lesson, we will talk about this more.

Without further ado…

Point of View

PoV (Point of View). The PoV alone can set the tone of the book. Do not take this lightly, this may be the single most important aspect (not really, but it is important!) It is the view point of which your readers will follow, and will determine how they connect to the characters.

First Person:  First Person is written from the main character’s (or any character of your choosing) view point. It is the direct link to the character’s thoughts and feelings and, when done appropriately, can be very impactful.

E.g. The sound of my shoes click-clacking on the cobblestone was soothing. The air was cold, and my breath came out in ghostly puffs. I walked slowly, trying to draw out this trip as long as possible–even though I was running five minutes late. John was surely waiting at the coffee shop already. I didn’t want to talk to him. But I had already agreed. Why was I always so agreeable?  He knew something, I had seen it in his eyes–the suspicion.

When writing in First Person, remember to use pronouns of “I”, “me”, “myself”, etc., because you are writing a direct line from the character’s thoughts. Think of it as the MC’s personal diary. However, unless you are writing straight from a diary, be careful not to treat First Person as such. Note in the example, I maintained a past tense, giving it the same flow of a story being told. Now take into consideration that excerpt written like this:

Click-clack, click-clack–I love my tappy shoes. I love high heels! I’m so short, I feel like this gives me an extra edge, lol. Brr, it’s cold out here. I wish it was summer. Omg, why did I agree to meet that weirdo John? Geez! What is with that guy? I think he knows my secret. But what does he care anyway? I don’t even know him.

Notice the lack of description, and the intimacy of the text. This writing certainly gives you a strong voice of the main character, but the average reader will not suffer through this long. This loose and exaggerated writing works well with middle school to young adult books (e.g. Diary of a Wimpy Kid). If you’re trying to write a serious novel, I would caution you from this writing. Editors and agents will not take you seriously, because this is not good writing.

Second Person:  Rarely will you see second person point of view in a novel, because it is a difficult view to write. This is not to say it’s a bad style, it is just difficult for both writer and reader. However, it can be done. Second person is used when the narrator (meaning you) is telling the story to another character using ‘you’, or when the narrator is telling the story directly to the audience in which pronouns of ‘you’, ‘your’, or ‘you’re’ is used. This blog is an example of Second Person, as it is a narration from me to you.

E.g. You walk along the cobblestone street, listening as your shoes click-clack noisily. The cold wind bites through your light jacket, and you shiver.

If you’re up for the challenge, fiction can be written using Second Person. You might struggle with it, but it can be done, and it can be done well. But mostly it is reserved for email correspondence, educational blogs, and manuscripts.

Side note: I always thought second person was weird. What if you portrayed your MC as a girl and it was a man reading your book “your high heels, your luscious long hair”, etc.

Third Person: This is the most frequently used form of writing. It is versatile in the fact that you can cover a variety of characters with your story and can illustrate the world from a panoramic view. It uses pronouns of “he”, “she”, and “it”, and allows you to get into any character’s head–even an animal’s, such as a dog.

E.g. John tapped his foot absentmindedly. The bustle of the coffee shop surrounded him, voices mingling in the air, a never ending buzzing drone. He wasn’t a coffee drinker–to be honest, he never liked the stuff. It was too bitter and reminded him of dirt. But he had found coffee shops to be the ideal place to meet strangers. His thoughts were on the woman he had met the other day–the incident. He hadn’t been able to get it out of his head, even now, his hands shook just thinking about it. She had tried to cover it up, tried to run away even. So why had she agreed to meet with him–a stranger, the only witness to the incident, but a stranger none the less? Seven minutes after. She was late…or not coming at all. He leaned forward on the table, raking a hand through his blond hair.

Homework: Decide which PoV you will use in your story. Commit to the view point, to your decision to write this story. You’re on an adventure, and it started when you conceived this brilliant idea. Write three paragraphs in your MC’s PoV in a setting of your choosing. Discover the “voice” of the character, get a feel for what they will sound like on paper. And for gravy’s sake, have fun!

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30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (6)

World Building

We touched on this briefly in our Research chapter, now we will break this down more clearly and discover what World Building entails.

Setting > Real world or fictional

See why research is important? What if you wanted to write about Paris, France and realize you know nothing about France? For the story to feel real, you will need description of buildings, names of real streets, local highlights, parks, even culture. But say you’re writing fiction–your very own Middle Earth.

We have already talked about drawing out maps. This is a good habit whether your book is set in Paris or in [insert-epic-name-here]. You as the writer needs to understand where you are, where you are going, and where you have been (not ‘you’ you, but your characters of course).

Take Middle Earth, since we brought that up. A vast world is explored over the course of those books. There are mountains and rivers and countries and kingdoms. Each geographical monument is drawn on paper for clarity. Directions–north, south, east, west–are set in stone. As a writer, you can watch your characters traipse across the land and not worry about whether the sun is rising in their faces, or urging them on from behind. The goal is to be as accurate as possible, because while poking fun at the discrepancies in your favorite movies is entertaining, it can be embarrassing to experience first hand. It’s going to be hard enough not to have typos, let alone correctable mistakes in a world of your own making.

Give your readers credit. They are incredible intelligent and observant.

Enough about maps, let us talk about description.

What not to do:

E.g The old coffee shop was directly ahead. It was full of people, chairs and tables. A bell rang when people walked in and out. Jane could smell coffee as she sat down with John.

What a blah description. I wouldn’t read that book, would you? Depending on your reading level, I suppose you might. But I’m going to assume you are educated which, in itself, denotes an intelligent individual. You’re welcome.

What to do better:

E.g. Jane approached the quaint coffee shop. It was an old building, the walls sagged and the red paint covering the door had long since faded and chipped. But such wear and tear did not affect the shop’s business negatively. When she pushed through the door, the bell overhead jangled softly. Voices bubbled and fluttered through the room. It was bustling with activity. The family owners hastened to and fro, stirring up the famous concoction known as coffee. She had smelled it blocks away, that earthy, robust aroma which boasted of sunshine and better days. She breathed it in a moment before searching for a blond man seated alone.

Notice the difference? Good description works in an orderly pattern, whether chronological or in order of importance. It gives color and detail to an otherwise black and white world.

When building a world, it is better to have too much than too little. You can always trim down too much, and a good editor will instruct you on what to trim. But it is difficult to look at something and say, “I can’t put my finger on it, but it needs more.”

Homework: Select a descriptive scene and spend fifteen minutes writing it.

Option #2: Draw a map. ;D