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Friday, October 12, 2012

POV = Point of View...What is it?

This week in F2K we are studying POV, which is writerese for Point of View.  What's that, you might ask.  When you write fiction, you have a decision to make before you ever set a word on the screen or paper.  You must decide whose voice is speaking.  Who is the one who is presenting the ideas here?  

There are several POV's available to writers.  The most common is called 3rd Person Narrative.  This is easily recognized by the pronouns being used.  Most 3rd Person Narratives use the pronouns  he, she,  and it.   One character usually tells the story.  This can be a live or inanimate character.  I've seen pencils be the protagonist, or "good guy" in stories, and very effectively, too.  An example of this POV is from my novel "Door In Time":

John and Sarah listened with amazement as the strange young man John had just rescued from his cornfield told an unbelievable tale of time travel beginning in 2007 and culminating in 1887.  John and Sarah exchanged looks of disbelief mixed with compassion for the distress the young people appeared to be suffering.  The young man’s speech was strange, using words like “bogus” and “cruised”. The young people’s clothing was strange, with pants cut off above the knee and shirts of strange fabrics, and they had talked of strange gadgets earlier, such as a cell phone, computer, microwave ovens. Sarah stated she thought the kids were practicing witchcraft and was afraid, but John sensed that they thought they were telling the truth, even though he believed they must be delusional or crazy.  How could they possibly believe in time travel?  What was going on here?

In this paragraph, which is actually 3rd person omniscient, meaning that more than one character's thoughts are known, John and Sarah's thoughts are shown.

Contrast that paragraph with the following paragraph, also from my novel:

“Well, when I got up this morning, it was August 23, 2007.  I was at my home in Wichita, Kansas.  My friend, Randy, called to see if I wanted to get together to find a baseball game or something.  We picked up Charity at her home and cruised around the city park.  We noticed this old building that seemed abandoned, and decided to explore it.  Inside, we found papers that said the place was an old time travel service.  We didn’t believe there was such a thing, but when we couldn’t find Randy, we began searching for him.  He had gotten separated from us while searching the different rooms of the building. We came across this gate that had a sign reading Gateway Time Portal.  We passed through this gate together and suddenly found ourselves in your cornfield.  I know it sounds really bogus, but that’s the truth.  I don’t know how exactly we got here, but we came here to find Randy.  Now he’s disappeared again, and we don’t know how to get home.  I’m sorry if we have caused you any problems.  As soon as we find Randy, we’ll try to return home and not bother you again.”

This last paragraph was written in 1st person narrative.  Notice the frequent use of the pronouns "I, we, he, and she."  This paragraph is told from the POV of Josh Peterson, the protagonist in my novel.  When you write from this POV, you must be ever cognizant of the fact that you cannot know what is in the thoughts of the other characters.  You can write what you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel, but you are not privy to the thoughts of others, only your own thoughts.

Another POV that is commonly used is the 2nd person POV.  With this voice, you are telling what the reader is feeling.  This is one of the hardest to write, at least for me, because it is so easy to slip unconsciously into first or third person.  An example of this style is:

You wake with a start.  You see the light coming through the window, splashing across your bed and onto the opposite wall.  You feel the warmth of the sun as it shines on your face.  Listening, you hear the sounds of pigs, chickens and cattle feeding from their troughs.  The sounds and smells of breakfast cooking assault your nose, and your belly growls in response.  You sit up in bed, and pain slashes through your consciousness and throbs in your head, bringing back memories of the night before. Oh, why did you stay out so late, and why did you mix whiskey and beer?  And for Pete's Sake, why did you drink so much?

There are other voices that can be used, but these are the most common ones used in writing today.  Which do you prefer?  The important thing to remember is that you should remain consistent in your story.  

Don't start out with 1st or 2nd person and switch back and forth between the two.  Don't throw in some 3rd person POV just for variation.  This will only confuse your reader and label you as an amateur.  

For each story, pick one POV and stick to it throughout the story.  If you need to switch, then go back to the beginning and rewrite the story from the new POV. 

Consistency is the key.

Happy writing!

Friday, October 5, 2012

All Eight Senses?

We are taught in F2K that there are actually eight senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch, space, time, and the unknown.  Lesson 2 in F2K is all about the senses.  We learn how to "show" the senses, rather than naming and "telling" them.  What does this mean?

If I say "I saw the boat on the water," it's easy to understand, but "yawn", so boring!  That is telling.  It's the way we are taught to write in grammar school.

Now, if I take the same sentence and "show" it: "The sails billowed in the gentle breezes as the sailboat skipped over the waves toward the open sea," it is much more visual and more interesting.  Which sentence do you prefer to read?  This is the kind of sentence we teach in F2K.  More description, without actually naming the senses involved.

You can show more than one sense in a sentence.  The sentence "I saw the boat on the water," does not evoke any senses except sight.  The showing sentence, however, evokes both sight and possibly smell and touch.  We smell the sea, we feel the wind on our skin.  Much more interesting, the second sentence is preferable to read.

Ok, so what about those three extra senses?  Where do they come in?  If  you are standing on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you are going to have a huge feeling of space.  A sentence about a clock ticking, for example, would evoke a sense of time passing.  And a good mystery or thriller novel, will definitely bring out that sense of the unknown.  How we write these sentences and stories will affect our readers interest level immensely.

I love to read books and stories that "show".  I want to feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck as I read a thriller with a feeling of suspense and the unknown.  I want a description of satin sheets to make me "feel" the smoothness and slipperiness of those sheets.  And I want to read about puppies with that softness and puppy smell that goes along with baby dogs.

As writers, we must grow up from those baby steps we took in our writing.  We must stop telling with those simple but boring sentences.  We need to expand our horizons, and the horizons of our readers and write descriptions that will bring out all eight of our senses.

We must show our readers what we are seeing, feeling, tasting and all the other senses in our writing.  

Happy writing!

Crazy weekend!

Today, I start a 4 day weekend.  I have worked for the past three evenings, usually getting home around 9 p.m.  I was up until midnight working on mentoring duties in F2K, then up again at 7:30 this morning.  I am planning the Paparazzi Open House for tomorrow, as well as getting "stuff" ready for a yard sale in the morning.  I'll start babysitting tonight for two granddaughters, and we have the usual Church, meals and housework to do.  Crazy!

I tend to double book myself with activities every weekend.  Sometimes it's not always my fault.  I'll have a nice relaxing weekend all planned out, then Dennis will come home and ask me to do something else with him.  Usually, I just dump my plans and go with him, since he is only home on weekends, but occasionally, I am compelled to keep my original plans and Dennis gets delegated to fit in the slots that are left over.  I hate doing that, because our time is so precious together.

I have so many things I want to discuss today.  But to include them all in this post would be nuts.  So I will just make this one short and post another later with another topic.

Have a nice day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Entrepreneur? Moi?...

I started a new home business a couple of months ago.  I was browsing around on Facebook (a bad habit I have when procrastinating).  I saw a post by a lady I didn't know.  She was talking about a party she was having for Paparazzi.  

I had never heard of this company.  Prior to that day, the only Paparazzi I had ever heard of had definitely negative connotations, as in teams of photographers hounding celebrities for candid, unauthorized photos that they sell to cheap rag magazines.  So I was not really impressed by the name.

But something kept calling me back to that post.  I must have scrolled my timeline several times, going back to that post.  I had been looking for a direct marketing business that I could do that would be a little different than the Avon, Tupperware, candle peddling businesses that I knew from our area.  I had sold Sarah Coventry jewelry years ago and loved doing it.  This might be just up my alley! 

So, I sent the lady a message.  We chatted on Facebook about it for a few minutes, and then I asked, "So how do I go about signing on with this company?"  I was hooked.  I visited the website, read everything I could find about it, and visited with Holly, the independent consultant I had first contacted.  Before the day was over, I was an independent consultant and had ordered my beginning sales kit.

I took the jewelry to my workplace and showed a piece or two every day to my co-workers.  I had a couple of bookings right away.  People were buying the jewelry faster than I could order it.  I thought, wow, this is so cool.

I know not every day will be smooth sailing.  I have had disappointments in this business, mostly because people already in the business before I started had already booked the largest events in my area, leaving me with only a few smaller events, and the parties I could book.  But I absolutely love it when someone asks, "do you still sell the jewelry?" and ask to see it.  I rarely show the jewelry but what someone doesn't buy some of it, if not for themselves, then for gifts.

With the holidays coming up, I'm hoping for some great days ahead.  I'm offering special hostess rewards for this month, since this is my birthday month.  I've booked some Christmas shows already, and I'm always watchful for new people to sign on to be consultants themselves.

We have city wide garage sales coming up next week, and I'm going to have my sign out in front of my house, offering special bonuses for anyone who buys 5 pieces of jewelry or books a party.  We can't lower our prices...every piece of jewelry sells for $5 + tax, except for the Starlet Shimmer pieces for little girls, which sell for $1 + tax, but we can offer free pieces for door prizes and sales incentives.

I have booked the annual Clyde Christmas Craft Show for my Paparazzi, and I'm looking forward to showing it to people then.  I had a booth at the Clyde Watermelon Festival, and sold close to $200 worth in the morning hours.   

I'm always open. Just give me a call, or do a search for my page DixiesDesigns on Facebook.  Send me a private message on Facebook if you'd like more information.