A tree with lights in the snow at night

AW Amazon Store

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.


 

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Page 7 of 398 FirstFirst 1234567891011121317325782107257 ... LastLast
Results 151 to 175 of 9948

Thread: Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

  1. #151
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    From Neil's POV:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    <HR>
    At six-thirty, dressed for dinner, they sat on the back porch, sipping cocktails and looking out at Narragansett Bay.

    "You look great, Mom," Neil said.

    "Your mother's always been a pretty woman, and all the tender loving care she's received from me over the last forty-three years has only enhanced her beauty," his father said. H
    e paused. "What are you two smiling at?"

    "You know full well I've also waited on you hand and foot, dear," Dolores Stephens replied.

    "Neil, are you still seeing that girl you brought up here in August?" his father asked.

    "Who was that?" Neil wondered momentarily. "Oh, Gina. No, as a matter of fact, I'm not." It seemed the right time to ask about Maggie. "There is someone I've been seeing who's visiting her stepmother in Newport for a couple of weeks. Her name is Maggie Holloway; unfortunately she left New York before I got her phone number here."

    "What's the stepmother's name?" his mother asked.

    "I don't know her last name, but her first name is unusual. Finnuala. It's Celtic, I believe."

    "That sounds familiar," Dolores Stephens said. "Does it to you, Robert?"

    "I don't think so. No, that's a new one on me," he told her.

    "Isn't it funny. I feel as though I've heard that name recently," Dolores said. "Oh, well, maybe it will come to me."

    The phone rang. Dolores got up to answer it.

    "Now no long conversations," Robert Stephens warned his wife. "We've got to leave in ten minutes."

    The call, however, was for Robert. "It's Laura Arlington," Dolores Stephens said as she handed the portable phone to her husband. "She sounds terribly upset."

    Robert Stephens listened for a minute before speaking, his voice consoling. "Laura, you're going to get yourself sick over this. My son, Neil, is in town. I've spoken to him about you, and he will go over everything with you in the morning. Now promise me you'll calm yourself down.

    <HR>
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

  2. #152
    reph
    Guest

    POV

    Uncle Jim, couldn't "Neil, are you still seeing that girl..." be from anybody's point of view?

  3. #153
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: POV

    I'm assigning it to Neil because of the "his father" marker.

  4. #154
    evanaharris
    Guest

    Re: POV

    Ick...I don't like 3rd person omniscient...At least not Mary Higgins Clark's version of it...

    Though come to think of it, I can't think of an instance where it's been used and I liked it...It always comes off sophomoric.

  5. #155
    HConn
    Guest

    Re: POV

    Amazing what you can accomplish with a delete key.

  6. #156
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    Before plunging back into Point of View, let me natter on a bit about Positional Chess Plotting.

    What this means, to me, is that when I start a book I have a general idea of what I'd like to do with it (checkmate the other guy!), but I'm vague on the exact path that'll take me to that goal.

    I know how I want the book to end, yet all the steps in between the start of chapter one and "The End" are as much a mystery to me as they are to my characters. The major characters are the pieces. The minor characters are the pawns.

    I do know some things -- the size of the area I'm working in (be it a single room in a single night, or half a galaxy over a span of a millennium) -- and the characters I'll be playing with.

    From experience, I know that it's best to get the characters out, early, moving. That they need to control the whole of the game board.

    I know, from experience, where each kind of character is strongest. I try to put him there. It may not be obvious at the time why I'm moving a character to some location, but I know if he's there he can be active, and control part of the story.

    I know to place my characters so that they guard and support each other. Then, later, when plot starts to twist, my characters are where they need to be. It's almost magical. This is how I arrive at the state where the book writes itself.

    Then, as the story drives forward, suddenly the exact way in which I'll arrive at the conclusion becomes apparent, and it will be both surprising (because it's only now been revealed to the characters as it was only now revealed to the author) and at the same time inevitable, the "right" conclusion, since the characters had been heading to the places they needed to be since they were introduced.

    This is a rather sloppy description of what I hope will become clear as you play through some chess games, noticing how the master moves, what he knows, what he doesn't know, and what he does because he knows it's the right move even though _why_ it's the right move isn't obvious to anyone at that time.

    Let me give you the first three moves, with Chernev's commentary, from one of the games in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0713484640/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Logical Chess Move By Move</a>. This one is an example of King's Gambit Declined. White is Blackburne, Black is Blanchard, the game was played in London, 1891. Please follow this with a chessboard in front of you.

    <blockquote>

    1. P-K4

    Values were constant in many fields of endeavor, at the time this game was played.

    Stories began, "Once upon a time."

    Tic-tac-toe players put a cross in the center square.

    Checker masters started with 11-15.

    Chess masters opened with 1. P-K4.

    Despite the researches of the scientists, these remain good beginnings.

    1. . . . P-K4

    Black opens lines for two of his pieces and establishes equilibrium in the center.

    2. P-KB4

    An offer of a Pawn to induce Black to surrender the center.

    Accepting the gift enables White to continue with 3. P-Q4, and dominate the center with his Pawns. In addition, the opening of the Bishop file will offer White the opportunity of directing his attack at the vulnerable point KB7. This is a tender spot whether Black's King stays at home or castles.

    2. . . . B-B4

    Probably the safest way to decline the gambit:
    a) The Bishop bears down on the center and controls an excellent diagonal.
    b) The Bishop supplements the Pawn's attack on Q5 and prevents White from moving his Pawn to Q4.
    c) The Bishop's presence at B4, overlooking KKt8, forbids White from castling in a hurry.

    3. Kt-QB3

    White avoids 3. PxP, as the reply (coming like a shot, probably) Q-R5ch 4. P-Kt3 (even worse is 4. K-K2, QxKP mate), QxKPch wins a Rook for Black.

    White's actual move is not as energetic as 3. Kt-KB3, but Blackburne was trying to lure his opponent into playing 3. . . . BxKt 4. RxB, Q-R5ch 5. P-Kt3, QxRP when 6. R-Kt2 followed by 7. PxP gives White a fine game.

    3. . . . Kt-QB3

    A simple retort to the dubious invitation.

    Black continues mustering his forces out on the field of action. In the fight for control of the center, his Knight does its share by exerting pressure on the squares K4 and Q5.

    </blockquote>

    This is a short game, just 18 moves. Please play it out to its astounding conclusion. It perfectly illustrates my theory about positional play in plotting.

    Sometimes I'll do things in my first drafts for no other reason than to have stuff to play with later on. I might put the hero, Dick Steeljaw, on the same train as the villain, Rotten Robert, and both of them carrying identical carpetbags.

    If nothing comes of it by the end of the story, the carpetbags (and indeed the train trip) can be deleted in the next draft. But if some interaction follows, with surprising results, the effect can seem magical.

    (A note on names. In first drafts I often name my characters for their functions in the plot. The hero's buddy may be named "Buddy," while a minor viewpoint character may be named "Walkon" or "Cannon Fodder." Global Search-and-Destroy with a wordprocessor makes giving them all reasonable names easy in a subsequent draft, and makes keeping them straight easy in an early draft.)

  7. #157
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: POV

    Back to POV.

    Here's that scene from Moonlight Becomes You, this time from Dolores' POV:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    <HR>

    At six-thirty, dressed for dinner, they sat on the back porch, sipping cocktails and looking out at Narragansett Bay.

    "You look great, Mom," Neil said as he air-kissed her cheek.

    "Your mother's always been a pretty woman, and all the tender loving care she's received from me over the last forty-three years has only enhanced her beauty," her husband said. "What are you two smiling at?" he added a moment later.

    "You know full well I've also waited on you hand and foot, dear," Dolores Stephens replied.

    "Neil, are you still seeing that girl you brought up here in August?" Robert asked.

    "Who? Oh, Gina. No, as a matter of fact, I'm not. There is someone I've been seeing," he continued, "who's visiting her stepmother in Newport for a couple of weeks. The girl's name is Maggie Holloway; unfortunately she left New York before I got her phone number here."

    "What's the stepmother's name?" Dolores asked.

    "I don't know her last name, but her first name is unusual. Finnuala. It's Celtic, I believe."

    "That sounds familiar," Dolores Stephens said slowly, searching her memory. Something she'd read in the paper a week or two ago niggled at her. "Does it to you, Robert?"

    "I don't think so. No, that's a new one on me," he told her.

    "Isn't it funny. I feel as though I've heard that name recently," Dolores continued. "Oh, well, maybe it will come to me."

    The phone rang. Dolores picked up the portable.

    "Now no long conversations," Robert Stephens said. "We've got to leave in ten minutes."

    The call, however, wasn't for Dolores. She nearly didn't recognized Laura Arlinton. The woman was talking too fast, repeating, "Robert, please? Is Robert there?"

    "It's Laura," Dolores Stephens said as she got up to hand the phone to her husband. "She sounds terribly upset."

    Robert Stephens took the phone, "This is Mr. Stephens," he said. A long pause followed. Then: "Laura, you're going to get yourself sick over this. My son, Neil, is in town. I've spoken to him about you, and he will go over everything with you in the morning. Now promise me you'll calm yourself down.

    <HR>
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

    The main emphasis has gone from the new girlfriend, Maggie, (in the Neil's POV version) to Laura and the phone call (in the Dolores POV version.)

    In the original Omniscient 3rd POV, the reader is left off-balance. This might be a deliberate choice -- we're about half-way through the book, where the reader is meant to be off-balance. This is a thriller, a mystery, and a romance, all at once. We're transitioning from the opening to the middle. In the opening, the writer opens up possibilities. In the middle the themes are balanced, strengthened, and simplified. We're going to start radically cutting down on possible directions the plot could go.

  8. #158
    LiamJackson
    Guest

    Re: POV

    Speaking of third person omniscient ("tpo"), many critics openly express a dislike for the style. In my humble opinion, that particular voice can add strong touches of drama when needed. I agree that it would be tempting to go overboard with "tpo" but I really don't understand what seems to be near universal disdain for it among this latest generation of critics. Maybe I'm just weird.

    Any thoughts? (other than "that guy is just weird?")

  9. #159
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    To sound like a high school English class there would have to be lots and lots of nattering on about gerunds and past participles and such.

    English is a frightfully difficult language. The grammar consists of exceptions papered over with idioms, the pronunciation makes you wish we'd just stuck to ideograms instead of pretending that we're in a phonetic system (The tough coughed as he ploughed the dough ... I ask you!), and depending on how you look at it English either has just two tenses, or thirty-three. The line between nouns and verbs is porous. English is graced with a vocabularly larger than that of the next two languages combined: As James Nichols put it, "We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary."

    Speaking English badly is easy. Speaking it well ... brother, you have a lifetime's work cut out for you.

    If you slept through high school English, now's the time to make up those classes. Get a study book, work through the exercises. At the same time, read lots of novels by acknowledged master stylists. Some of it will rub off.

    Oh, yes, and <a href="http:// http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0192813897/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Fowler's Modern English Usage Dictionary</a> (get the 2nd edition -- do not get any of the abominable recent editions) is a wonder and a delight. Read it, learn it, love it, live it.

  10. #160
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: POV

    Any thoughts? (other than "that guy is just weird?")

    You're just weird. Sorry about that.

    Otherwise: Third Person Omniscient is easy to do badly. I think we've already mentioned that it can come between the reader and the story; an additional layer of filtering. It can also become the author showing off, and no one likes a show-off.

    Third Person Omniscient is a POV that's often attempted by new writers, since it maps easily to the way they look at their own story. An author can look into anyone's head at any time he pleases. He can go anywhere, do anything.

    This is why he shouldn't. Because if something is too easy, the reader can cease to care.

    Suppose we're in Third Person Omniscient, and we're in a murder mystery. The reader can become annoyed with the author, because the author knows whodunnit, and isn't telling. Remember above when we said, "Don't annoy the reader, and particularly don't get him annoyed with the author"?

    That is where the skill comes in. Using Third Omniscent means you're facing a curveball. Even the best batters can miss curveballs.

  11. #161
    HapiSofi
    Guest

    Fowler

    H. W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Get the first edition, or the second edition that was edited by Gower. Third edition is Right Out.

    Get a second stylebook to go with it, because Fowler is quirky. His theory is dead solid -- none better -- but he can be odd on the specifics.

    ESL handbooks make surprisingly effective stylebooks.

  12. #162
    EJ
    Guest

    Re: Point of View


    To sound like a high school English class there would have to be lots and lots of nattering on about gerunds and past participles and such.

    English is a frightfully difficult language. The grammar consists of exceptions papered over with idioms, the pronunciation makes you wish we'd just stuck to ideograms instead of pretending that we're in a phonetic system (The tough coughed as he ploughed the dough ... I ask you!), and depending on how you look at it English either has just two tenses, or thirty-three. The line between nouns and verbs is porous. English is graced with a vocabularly larger than that of the next two languages combined: As James Nichols put it, "We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary."


    Didn't mean to sound like I was putting down HS English classes, they just always annoyed me because we went over the exact same things every year.

    I have always been very quick to pick up the rules of speach (I was correctly using the word I at the same age that my brother was speaking of himself in the third person and my sister was calling herself "me") and the constant repitition annoyed me.

  13. #163
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    Didn't mean to sound like I was putting down HS English classes, they just always annoyed me because we went over the exact same things every year.

    I'm not responding to you directly, EJ -- I'm just sayin'.

    If you're capable of writing two consecutive pages of grammatical English prose with standard spelling, you're already in the top ten percent of the slush heap.

    Writing isn't a lottery -- the talk about the "odds" is misleading -- it's a game of skill. If you write total trash, no matter how many manuscripts you send in you won't get picked. If you write Really Good Stuff, the only thing that'll keep it from being published is if you don't submit it.

  14. #164
    Dancre
    Guest

    omniscient pov

    i have to agree, writing 3rd omniscient pov gets on my nerves! when i read tolkien's lord of the rings trilogy, it drove me crazy because i couldn't get close to the characters! it seemed as if there were too many holes in the story. when the group was in lothlorien legolas and grimli became friends. well how? did they have boys night out, go to a strip club and get drunk? sit around, watch football and belch? what! i have to agree sometimes omniscient pov can alienate the reader and a writer has to have great talent to pull it off. i admire anyone who can do it. (and yes, yes, i know, that's how they wrote in those days. but it doesn't mean i have to like it.)
    kim

  15. #165
    LiamJackson
    Guest

    Re: omniscient pov

    James and Dancre: Points well taken.

    Dancre, perhaps you just mentioned the single most important reason (LOTR) that I'm fond of the PoV.

    Now, having stated that I like that PoV, I should also mention that I've tried to write from that perspective and quickly gave it up. I couldn't reconcil "knowing" and "keeping the reader in suspense."

    That's one "curve ball" that I wish I had the knack for hitting.

    Thanks.

  16. #166
    HapiSofi
    Guest

    Tone: a digression

    I'm sorry, this isn't about POV or plot, but there's a bit in that Mary Higgins Clark scene that drives me straight up the wall:

    "Your mother's always been a pretty woman, and all the tender loving care she's received from me over the last forty-three years has only enhanced her beauty," his father said. He paused. "What are you two smiling at?"

    "You know full well I've also waited on you hand and foot, dear," Dolores Stephens replied.


    Does anyone in the world talk like that? Mr. Stephens' line only works if he's a flaming mariposa going for comic effect (no disrespect intended toward flaming mariposas, who are some of the modern masters of baroque language), or this family's idiolect is heavy on sarcasm and theatricality, or he's an intolerably pompous windbag.

    He pauses after saying it, which fits with the theory that he's talking that way for humorous effect; but his wife's response implies that either she doesn't think he's trying to be funny, or she's incapable of noticing that he is. We therefore have to assume he's speaking seriously.

    His wife's reply is as problematic as his, in its quieter way. "You know full well" is middlin' archaic English. You don't really hear that phrase used these days by people who don't read a lot of fantasy. "I've waited on you hand and foot" is also odd. It's been a while since the social consensus has been comfortable with the idea that a wife should do that for her husband. "I've waited on you hand and foot" therefore ought to mean "I've done/had to do more for you than I should have."

    My other hypothesis, based on his line about the "tender loving care" he's bestowed on his wife, and her reply about waiting on him hand and foot, is that this respectable-looking middle-aged couple is engaged in a serious long-term D/s relationship.

    I doubt it, though. I think what's happening here is that Mary Higgins Clark is trying to jam several bits of initial exposition into the dialogue without regard for the way it makes her characters sound.

  17. #167
    HConn
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    I know, from experience, where each kind of character is strongest. I try to put him there.
    James, I'm the first to admit that I'm no chess player. I understand most of what you're talking about, but I can't apply it when I'm actually playing the game. I stink.

    So maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't understand what you mean by moving characters to the place where they're strongest. I had understood that a protagonist should be shoved into a situation where he is not strongest. He should be thrown outside his comfort zone. The cop that is suspected of a crime and pursued by his own department. The high-powered CEO who loses everything. The dedicated humdrum family man who discovers his wife is having an affair.

    And so on. But if you don't mean something like "comfort zone" when you say place where they're strongest, I have to admit I don't know what you mean.

  18. #168
    pdr
    Guest

    p.o.v.

    James, I'm really enjoying the p.o.v. discussion. Thank you for provoking it! Isn't third omniscient a handful? I did not enjoy the Mary Higgins Clark extract at all because it was, for me, the sort of story that needs the reader to identify with one character and the t.o.v. frustrated that. But t.o.v. is perfect for 'The Lord of the Rings' as the story covers a vast expanse of space, time and characters and the story needs one voice to hold it together. Surely that's what t.o.v. is, the voice a writer needs to whip the reader through time and space as in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' - 'Meanwhile on the other side of the galaxy...' or carry the reader through stories of epic mythic proportion with a huge cast of characters.
    Someone asked about why the first p.o.v or third limited p.o.v. are de rigour for writers today. Is it because we are expected to try and understand ourselves and others through our emotions and motivations and to do that in a novel the reader has to be inside a character's head? Inside a character means 1st person or limited 3rd for the writer.
    What do you think of the 2nd p.o.v. where the writing is all 'You get up knowing today is not a good day. You haven't slept well...' etc.

  19. #169
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    The cop that is suspected of a crime and pursued by his own department.

    He may not be in his "comfort zone," but he's been moved to where he is active, has choices, and can have others act upon him.

    He's been moved off the back row.

  20. #170
    EJ
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    I think the meaning with the chess analogy is that the piece must be moved to the spot where it is strongest for that particular game. Sometimes, the strongest place for a piece is a place where it is sure to be captured and help cause an opening. It's not what's best for the piece, but is what is best for the game as a whole.

  21. #171
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    It's not what's best for the piece, but is what is best for the game as a whole.

    Sure, those sacrifices and combinations that get people to gasp when they see 'em, and have the little (!) annotation when the game is written down.

  22. #172
    HConn
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    But the characters don't care about the game as a whole. They just don't want to be ruined.

    I understand "being moved off the back row" but I don't understand having your characters move to their strongest positions. Could I get a non-chess analogy for that one?

  23. #173
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Point of View

    But the characters don't care about the game as a whole.

    Nor do the characters care about the book as a whole. The author, on the other hand, does. Just as a chessmaster will move and perhaps sacrifice his pieces, an author will move and perhaps sacrifice his characters.

    Rather than their strongest positions, how about putting the characters into their most interesting situations? This is "interesting" as in the curse, "May you live in interesting times."

  24. #174
    EJ
    Guest

    Writing as Chess

    I'm really liking this chess analogy you have going. I'm a bad chess player, but that fact is actually helping me to understand the concept more and how it applies to my writing.

    The queen is the most versatile piece, and, to me, represents the main character. There are three very basic ways to play your queen. You can under play her, over play her, or play her so that she interacts with the other pieces (both minor and major) to bring about a satisfying conclusion to the game.

    In an actual chess game, I usually under play my queen. She is my most powerful piece and I was afraid of loosing her and not being able to get her back.

    In my writing, I tend toward the opposite, though I have gotten a lot better about this. My major characters would passively support the queen while she did all of the work and had everything happen to her.

    Ideally, you'd want the queen working in harmony with the major pieces and pawns in order to protect the king (which would likely represent an idea/theme/goal that the character stands for) and to checkmate the other side's king.

  25. #175
    Dancre
    Guest

    Re: omniscient pov

    hi liam,
    i find that interesting that you like omniscient pov and you have a hard time writing in it. i have no problems writing omn. pov, i could get away with it but i hate it! i write all my first drafts in omn. pov then rewrite them into 3rd.

Page 7 of 398 FirstFirst 1234567891011121317325782107257 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search