Read Books By AWers!

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

editing for authors ad

A publisher or agency using Google ads to solicit your novel probably isn't anyone you want to write for.


Go Back   Absolute Write Water Cooler > General Writing Interest > Novels
Register FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-02-2003, 08:45 AM   #126
Dancre
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Story

hey, uncle jim,
i wanted to say i'm really get alot out of this thread. please don't stop. i really liked the post where you said tape your story on the wall and see if theres alot of narration. never thought of that. and lets see, write two hours aday, so if i start at 6pm on monday, i can still see monday night football. works for me!! oh, and i have to ask you, were you Maryssong on cacoethes scribendi's bb?
thanks
kim
 
Old 12-02-2003, 10:43 AM   #127
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Story

Hiya, Kim --

No, I've never been on scribendi's bb (and I go by my real name wherever I go -- I'm me, I stand behind my opinions).

Hi, Hapi. Good to see you here. Chime in any time you like.

===========

What shall we talk about tonight?

How about endings?

Books have beginnings, middles, and ends.

If your book doesn't have an end, your readers will be left unsatisfied, as if the chocolate cake they were promised for desert was snatched away from them at the last minute.

I've talked about chess games as a metaphor for the novel. All chess games end. Either with a checkmate, a stalemate, a draw, or a resignation.

Of these, only the checkmate is of interest. We want that checkmate ending to our books. When the reader puts our book down, he should say "I didn't see that coming, but by golly that was the absolutely right ending."

("What do we do if we're planning a sequel? What if this is one book in a series? What then, Uncle Jim?" I can hear you asking.

"My children," I reply, "the book must have an end anyway. You can leave room for more stories in the same world, with the same characters, but this story is finished. Suppose your reader is a sailor, a thousand miles away from shore, six months before he'll get home, and this is the only book on board his ship. Do you want to frustrate that poor swabbie, leave him hanging? No! Give him a conclusion, a satisfying conclusion.")

How to tell you've reached the end of your story:

The characters suddenly don't know what to do next. They wander around. One of them orders out for pizza.

A novel is not life: In life there are always loose ends; the story never really finishes. This is art: Here all the plot threads are gathered together. Sure, you can leave little things lying around ready to pick up in another book, but you can't leave major plot-arcs unresolved. The reader won't stand for it; he will throw your book against the wall; he won't buy your next book. Here's the game: You win if the reader buys your next book.

Do not leave your reader in any doubt that you've come to the end of the story! Imagine a play ... where the audience didn't know to start applauding, when to rise to their feet, when to throw bouquets on the stage. The playwright gives the audience clues that This Is It. If nothing else, when the lights come up, and the whole cast walks on stage and takes their bows, the audience knows This Play is Over, and it's time to go home.

So ... signal that it's the end. Coming to the last page isn't enough. I've run into books where I've been frustrated because the last page wasn't the end of the story. Do not do likewise.

Bad endings: There are three classic errors. One is getting into a land war in Asia. But the other two, almost as deadly are ending your book thusly:

1) It was only a dream.
2) ...and they were all run over by a truck.

Yes, yes, I know. <a href="http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/People/rgs/alice-table.html" target="_new">Alice in Wonderland</a> ends with "Oh, I've had such a curious dream!" That book has many other virtues, and the ending is in fact perfect for that book. The danger with using the "it was only a dream" ending with your book is that the reader has been worried about these characters all the way along, he's been hoping for them, fearing for them, and now, suddenly, you've told him that it didn't matter. Yes, it's all a fiction, yet our readers have laughed genuine laughs, shed genuine tears, actually checked to makes sure the windows were all locked, all over our creations. Don't remind him that you just made it up. One of the little fictions of our fictions is that we don't tell them that it's fiction.

The "...and they were all run over by a truck" ending has the element of arbitrariness to it; the author has gotten tired of these toys so he throws them away. Possibly the author didn't know how to end the story, and this presented a convenient way to do it after about three hundred pages. Again, the reader has gotten to care about the characters (at least we hope so, and if the reader is still following along at this point we know he does), and will be upset, perhaps angered, that someone he likes dies for no good reason other than the author said so.

Okay, okay, you're trying to make a point that life is random, brutish, and short, that we all die, and that existence is meaningless. Make your point some other way; this one has already been done.

What both of these endings have in common: The characters' actions didn't matter. That's disrespectful to your readers. Readers can tell when they're being dissed.
 
Old 12-02-2003, 12:04 PM   #128
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Forums and stuff

Since HConn brought up the Evil Overlord Plot Generator, here's <a href="http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/000290.html" target="_new">a lot more about it.</a>
 
Old 12-02-2003, 01:07 PM   #129
evanaharris
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Forums and stuff

Quote:
Since HConn brought up the Evil Overlord Plot Generator, here's a lot more about it.
That really is an excellent way to brainstorm. Personally, I love taking something like that and working off of it. I find that I usually change so much when I actually get down to writing it, that it's hardly recognizable for its source material.
 
Old 12-03-2003, 06:08 AM   #130
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Because I'm Lazy

I'm going to recycle a bit right now, from <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=263.topic" target="_new">another thread here.</a>

In that thread, HConn mentioned <a href="http://www.scriptsecrets.net/articles/magnify.htm" target="_new">this site</a>.

The following was my reply there.

(I'm thinking that after this I might blather on a bit about Point of View (POV), but that's for another post.)

<BLOCKQUOTE>
Quote:
<HR>

Well, books aren't movies (for all that they're both part of the entertainment industry). They're different art forms, both of which need to appeal to a mass audience. Yet, you can learn from them. I'm a big believer in finding lessons about writing in all sorts of non-writing or peripherally-writing places.

From where I sit, ideas are vastly overrated. One of the things you'll get sick of when y'all become Famous Big Name Writers (or obscure, small time writers like me) is the guy who comes up to you and says, "I"ve got a great idea for a book! You write it and we'll split the money!"

Ideas. I've got lots of my own, thanks. Aphorisms: Watt-Evans' Law: "There is no idea so stupid that a sufficiently talented writer can't make it into an entertaining story." Feist's Collorary to Watt-Evans' Law: "There is no idea so brilliant that a sufficiently ham-handed writer can't make an unreadable story out of it."

The Pump Up The Volume method (what this fellow calls "Magnification") can work, if you're the sort of person it works for. It won't give you <A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0767812158/ref=nosim/madhousemanor target="new">sex, lies, and videotape</a> for all that it might give you an <A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ B00000G3PA/ref=nosim/madhousemanor target="new">Armageddon</a>.

Films play games with higher stakes than novels, at least in the terms of cash outlay. For a movie maker, the special effects budget may constrain the storyline. For me as a novelist, it costs exactly the same for me to type <FONT FACE=COURIER>"Fred lit a cigarette"</font> as it costs me to type <FONT FACE=COURIER>"The world ended with an earth-shattering Kaboom."</font>

Study the story-telling caracteristics of allied artforms, yes. Remember that what you personally are doing is writing a novel.

You want an example of plot, pure plot, driving a work? Try <A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000648Y0/ref=nosim/madhousemanor target="new">Sweeney Todd In Concert</a>. This performance has no sets, minimal costuming, minimal props, minimal movement. Yet the plot itself, expressed through the characters, pushs us right along. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, has lots of narrative juice. This particular story has been consistently finding an audience for the last 160 years. When you analyse the themes, you'll find classical roots. I really recommend this particular performance of this particular work. Look at is as an example of Plot At Work.

(Oh, incidentally, <a href="http://www.findology.com/partner/rt.php?q=John%20Q" target="_new">John Q</a> sucked.)

</blockquote>
 
Old 12-03-2003, 08:23 AM   #131
Karen Ranney
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Endings

Endings - one of my favorite pet peeves.

In any genre , and let's face it, we live in a world of sub-specialization - there's an implied theme. Segue here – I write because I have to. It’s a bonus that people want to read it. I write in a genre that’s popular, which means that it’s entertainment, pure and simple. I personally want to enlighten, teach, amuse, and touch the hearts and souls of those people who read my books. But anything and everything I say is generated from the viewpoint of a genre writer. (If I wrote “literary fiction” my print runs would be a quarter what they are now.)

When a reader buys a book, he does so based on a particular genre or theme. The reader immediately has a certain set of expectations. Mystery = crime/detective/solution. You can vary within that theme, but if you do not meet those expectations, you will irritate the heck out of the reader.

Never make the reader mad at you. (You can make him angry at the characters, the situation, life, etc., but don’t make him mad at YOU.)

Case in point - A very popular author wrote a book using Old English dialect. Have you ever tried to read Old English? Pullllease. Now, she was lauded for having the courage to do something different, and wasn't she smart, etc., etc., but this little rose was annoyed. I refused to buy anything else by that writer. Why? The book didn't deliver what it promised. Instead, I got a 400 page headache. Plus, I felt stupid.

Never make a reader feel stupid.

You might feel better, a literati editor might congratulate herself/himself on the fact that they haven't wasted that Radcliffe/Harvard education, but you will irritate the reader, and the moral of this story is to sell books.

My second case in point is Susan Isaacs. Now, I used to love her writing...until I read that ghastly book where she KILLS off the main character on the last page. Huh? I've invested my time, energy, and emotion in this person and she's dead?????? Huh?

Never make a reader mad. At you. See above.

I didn't buy another Isaac book for years and years. Why? Because the entire book had been focused on two characters and their struggle to reconcile. I had ached for them, yelled at them, invested part of myself into the story. Then, Isaacs killed her off. Maybe she did it to prove that she could. I don’t know, but I never forgave her for it. To this day when I read Isaacs, I have a certain detachment. I refuse to buy into her characters wholeheartedly. She might kill one again.

The beginning and the middle must match the end, and the end has to deliver the payoff. Mystery - crime solved. Romance - Happy ever after.

Make a reader cry, laugh, be startled and even shocked. Thrill them, sadden them, but always deliver what you've promised.

FWIW - Karen
 
Old 12-03-2003, 08:44 AM   #132
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Endings

Sing it, sister!

I personally want to enlighten, teach, amuse, and touch the hearts and souls of those people who read my books.

So do I. So does everyone. But you know what? If they've thrown your book across the room you aren't going to enlighten, teach, amuse or anything else those readers.

Same as if they put down your book after the first chapter, meaning to pick it up again later, and never do.

You've made a deal with your reader: Give me a couple bucks and a couple hours, and I'll show you a good time. The reader wants you to succeed. The reader is willing to help you out. Just don't give the reader the idea that he's put more thought into the story than you did.

Who was it, Sam Goldwyn, who said "If you want to send a message, call Western Union"? Same with your book. Sure, you can put a message in it. That isn't the reason someone will read your book. Put your message on a different level. On the main level, put this: A story, fully satisfying.

Good point about the detective story. The reader wants you to play fair with him, including putting all the clues on the page, so the reader can solve it right along with the detective. Imagine if you read a mystery where it turned out the killer was some guy you'd never heard of, who'd played no part in the book. It wasn't the jealous boyfriend, the butler, the old school chum, or the dishonest stock broker ... it was some random guy, and the cops find him because he confessed after being arrested for some unrelated crime somewhere around page 300.

Or suppose, on the last page, the police inspector says, "Well, beats heck out of me who did it ... put this one in the Cold Cases file. I've got enough other crimes to work on." That's not going to be too satisfying either.

You made a deal with your reader. You have to carry out your part.

Soon ... POV!
 
Old 12-03-2003, 09:15 AM   #133
jpwriter
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Endings

Karen,
I read your post with interest. I noticed you mentioned your are a genre writer so I went to your web site. It looks like Historical Romance to me. I am going to get the first book in the series and see what I think. I have read one Historical Romance in my life. Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald. I got curious and did an internet search. This book was published in 1983 and is apparently the only book she has published, at least under that name. I loved reading Zemindar. If your work is in any way like hers, I will love it too. I find it odd -- in all the thousands of books I have read that I have only read one historical romance, especially since I was so impressed with it. Got some catch up to do!
I am a novice writer and haven't discovered which genre I want to write in. I love most genres and mainstream fiction equally. I do have an idea for a historical novel I have put notes down on but am not ready to start a novel yet. I am still writing short stories while learning the craft.
By the way. I hate being made stupid as well.
Jerry
 
Old 12-04-2003, 01:39 AM   #134
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Point of View

Before we start POV, let's look at yet another list of <a href="http://elmoreleonard.com/archives/010elrules.htm" target="_new">rules for writing,</a> this time from <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/external-search?tag=madhousemanor&keyword=elmore+leonard&mo de=books" target="_new">Elmore Leonard</a>.

Mr. Leonard is a noted stylist; widely published, well respected, best-selling. Pray notice when he says that the word for "said" is "said." He also comments on the author intruding in the book. He has other things of great interest.

What we're going to look at today is this bit: "If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character -- the one whose view best brings the scene to life -- I'm able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what's going on, and I'm nowhere in sight."


So.

The Point of View is the pair of eyes that is observing the scene. Those eyes, belonging to a character, are your camera. Those ears, belonging to a character, are the microphones that pick up the dialog in the scene.

You may or may not tell your readers what the chacter is thinking. You must tell your readers what one particular character is seeing and hearing.

If the character is not in the room for part of the scene, the readers will not see that part of the scene. Therefore you must either:

a) use a different viewpoint character for that scene, or
b) break the scene into two scenes, with a different viewpoint character in each.

Who should be your viewpoint character? Answer: the character who can best see or describe the scene; the most interesting view of the scene, "the one whose view best brings the scene to life."

How can you tell which one's view best brings the scene to life?

Experience. Reading other authors and asking yourself "Why that character? Why that scene?" Writing your own works, and experimenting with the characters and the scenes. You will eventually get the experience to choose a viewpoint and stick with it in each scene.

Your viewpoint character does not need to be your main character, or even a major character. Remember when I told you to cherish your minor characters? This is one of the places where they can come in handy: they're great viewpoints.

You can go through an entire novel without ever seeing even one scene from the point of view of the protagonist.

If a scene isn't working for you, before your try the other two general-purpose scene-fixes (to wit: shortening the scene or cutting it entirely), try this: rewrite the scene from the point of view of a different character.

What the character sees (that is, what he notices) will depend on the character. You remember Holmes saying to Watson, "You see, but you do not observe"? The same thing is true for your viewpoint characters. Each one of them will filter what they hear, what they see, and consequently what they convey to the reader.

Let us imagine a wedding reception. How would it be described by: a) the grooms' father (a military man), b) the groom's ex-girlfriend (an interior decorator), c) the bride, d) a criminal who is there on business, e) a cop who is there as a guest, f) one of the musicians, or g) the preacher?

Each one of them will see different details as important. Each one of them will hear the conversations differently even if they report them word-for-word. Each of them is more likely to stand in one place than another.

How can you keep close point of view? Try this: Write the scene in first-person as told by your viewpoint character. Then recast the scene in the revision stage to third person.

Readers will notice if you change point of view in the middle of a scene! They will be either annoyed, confused, or lost. Writers have a hard time noticing POV shifts -- this is because they are always looking through their own eyes, and know where they are. This leads to the "head story." A head story is one that's in the author's head, not on the page.

Alas, the only story the reader gets is the one on the page.

In slush I have seen writers change viewpoints as often as three times in one paragraph. This is the sort of thing that gets manuscripts slipped back into return envelopes with one of those little one-page photocopied notes that writers hate to get.

Another viewpoint is the one I call "John Ford's Camera." This is the viewpoint that just sort-of hangs there. It's the Eye of God.

The viewpoint character then is the Author. You. In this case you must be very aware that you, the writer, are a character and maintain scrupulous consistency throughout. (True, you can turn to your audience and address them as "Gentle Reader," though this is seldom seen these days outside of humor, but be ready for the heavy downside too: you are never allowed to use another viewpoint if you're already using your own, and the reader may come to dislike your character.)

-----------

Now comes that point of today's ramblings where I throw out little pearls of wisdom.

Here's one: Say one of your characters is the world's greatest political orator. Do not, under penalty of having your book flung across the room by your readers, attempt to reproduce that orator's speeches. Unless you personally are the world's greatest orator, anything you write will fall short of the reader's expectation. (Same rule applies if your character is the world's greatest poet, greatest preacher, greatest writer, greatest anything. Don't try to provide samples.)

What you do is this: Show people's reactions to the character when he's doing his thing. Don't reproduce the sermon, show the congregation falling to the floor weeping.
 
Old 12-04-2003, 03:26 AM   #135
Debra Lauman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
POV

Hi James,

Could you expound a little on omniscient POV? I don't really have a specific question about it. Just curious.

Though I've written (yet-unpublished) novels from a single character's or narrator's POV, I do enjoy both writing and reading novels with multiple POV characters (ie. "Pigs in Heaven" by Kingsolver, and "Celestial Navigation" by Anne Tyler, to name two of many). My one published novel has multiple POV characters, as well as what I believe would be considered the omniscient POV here and there.

I recently read an article in Writer Magazine about an author (I'll have to find the magazine to recall the woman's name or the names of her books), but she's known for "dipping into" various characters' minds and doing so within scenes, as opposed to a single POV within each scene. And I believe John Grisham -- at least in "The Brethren" -- does the same to some extent. That one, I've read. In my opinion, this CAN work in some cases and if handled verrry carefully.

Your opinion?

Deb Lauman
Author of "I. Joseph Kellerman"
www.debralauman.com
 
Old 12-04-2003, 04:00 AM   #136
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: POV

A better reply in a bit, Debra, but here's a principle:

In writing, you can do absolutely anything if it works.

The "if it works" part is the tough bit. Try, read it carefully, be honest with yourself. Get the reactions from your first readers.

Think of your novel as a video game. Every time you try something, if it works, you get some number of points. If it doesn't work, you lose that same number of points. The fancier and more difficult the thing you try, the more points associated with it.

You'll start the game with a certain number of points. How many depends on the reader -- if he's read and enjoyed a previous work by you, you'll get more points than if he's never heard of you before. If you're writing in a genre he likes, you'll get more points than if you aren't exactly what he was looking for, but he was bored and there you were.

You've got some points, though, or the cover never gets opened.

Now you start adding and subtracting points for "things that work."

If your score ever goes down to zero, it's Bzzzzt! Game over! and the reader throws the book across the room (or, more demurely, puts it down and doesn't pick it back up).

If you want to use omniscent narrator, find an author you like who uses it, read his book critically to see the technique, then go and do likewise.

A sufficiently vigorous story will overcome many rough patches.

=======

Aphorism: Style is what you can't help doing.
 
Old 12-04-2003, 04:16 AM   #137
Debra Lauman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
POV

Thanks, James. Looking forward to what comes next. (Meaning, your next post.)

Now I'm off to see if I can find that magazine, so I can get the name of that author, so I can get on with reading at least one of her books. (I just posted in another thread about the value of reading books to improve one's writing. I'm a believer, for sure!)

Deb Lauman
Author of "I. Joseph Kellerman"
www.debralauman.com
 
Old 12-04-2003, 06:20 AM   #138
Paul W West
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

I agree with your discussion on POV. I learned about it a long time ago from Dean Koontz's book "How to Write Bestselling Fiction". It was a great primer for me.

My question is, why do so many best-selling authors get away with writing scenes where they switch POV repeatedly? I have to believe it's because there is more to their stories than the mechanics, such as obediance to the POV rule. Their stories must be great enough that such infractions are forgivable.

Which leads me to the conclusion; we need to craft wonderful stories first and foremost.
 
Old 12-04-2003, 07:48 AM   #139
Karen Ranney
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Another one of my buttons!

Just FYI - To answer an earlier comment, I am currently published in historical fiction as Karen Ranney, which just happens to be my real name. My other stuff is not under Ranney, but we'll leave that for later...

About POV

My first four books were absolute disasters. I didn't know anything about anything. I head hopped all over the place, sometimes on the same page. Shoot, sometimes in the same paragraph. They were ghastly mistakes, but you know why each and every book worked?

I was unbelievably passionate about what I was writing. I cried over the keyboard, I sobbed aloud. I laughed, I screamed. There is so much raw energy in those books and that's why they succeeded. Passion can replace technique any day. People won't care if you've made mistakes if you entertain them.

Along the way I've learned a great deal and I am much more adept. I work in third person omniscient viewpoint, which is how - and this is the easiest way I can describe it - I get the hell out of the way.

There's nothing more jarring to me to know that the author is there, preaching, describing, telling. Let the people talk. I don't care about the author. I've always maintained that the book is more important than the author and I believe that wholeheartedly.
 
Old 12-04-2003, 08:08 AM   #140
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Paul, could you point to such a scene? I think we could get a better handle on the whole question if we had something concrete to analyse.
 
Old 12-04-2003, 10:37 PM   #141
Paul W West
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Well, I can't exactly copy some scenes here to analyze, but in most of the scenes written by Marry Higgins Clark, Richard Paul Evans, Nicholas Sparks, to name a few, where they write in third person, they seem to head hop all over the place, almost every paragraph is in a different POV from the previous one. Maybe they call it omnisciant, but to me, that's jarring and confusing too.
 
Old 12-05-2003, 11:23 AM   #142
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

I'll try to make it to the library tomorrow to find a Mary Higgins Clark book. Then we'll see if we can find a scene to discuss.

Meanwhile, this bit from <a href="http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/depts/rk0307.htm" target="_new">an article by Rob Killheffer</a> seems pertinent:

<blockquote>
Quote:
<HR>
It’s television’s fault. Television and movies. Visual media. In so many of these indie publications the narrative point of view slides around like a hot rock on ice, and observations intrude without any clear viewpoint at all. Consider this, from Thoughtmaster: “a skeletal face…whose shifting features left the viewer confused.” What viewer? Or this: “The voice was surprisingly strong from such a diaphanous figure.” Surprising to whom? Surely not to the only other person in the scene, who knows the speaker well.

These writers’ imaginations have been shaped by visual storytelling, in which there’s always an implied viewpoint — that of the audience, the camera, the peeping lens. They conceive their scenes as if they’re presented on a screen, and when they commit their prose, the camera remains, lurking outside the frame.

There’s no other explanation for scene shifts like those in Exile. As Jeff Friedrick and his pal Carl leave the bar where they’ve met, we’re told: “At the bar, a man turned his head and watched them go. He was tall, and a brief flare of light revealed reddish hair. Before the spotlight moved on, odd points of light deep in green eyes gave the impression of motion.…” Gave the impression to whom? The viewing protocols of film and television help us make sense of it: The two men who have been the focus of the scene get up and head for the door, and the camera pans aside to settle on this watcher. His reddish hair is “revealed” to us, the audience. We’re the ones who receive the “impression of motion.” It’s as if, in these moments, the authors are not crafting prose but working out a screenplay. I recall the oldest and most basic advice offered to the aspiring writer: Read! Read! And read some more! If you want to write a novel, don’t draw your skills from the big — or the small — screen.

<HR>
</blockquote>

The whole article is worth reading.

One of the points about point of view is that you don't need to tell the readers who your point of view character is, so long as you know who he is, and you remain consistent. Your readers are subconsciously constructing a world under your direction. If your blueprint doesn't make the unseen parts line up, the reader will disbelieve.
 
Old 12-05-2003, 01:21 PM   #143
evanaharris
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Would you care to touch on some of your ideas on "positional chess plotting"? I've ordered a copy of the book, but it's not due for another week.

It seems like the point is: give each of your main characters as many opportunities as possible to change the story (game); or something similar...
 
Old 12-05-2003, 03:39 PM   #144
HConn
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

James, if you want a book title where the POV really jumps around, look for _Swan Song_ by Robert McCammon. When I read Paul's post, I immediately thought of that book.
 
Old 12-06-2003, 05:43 AM   #145
Debra Lauman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Shifting POV

Thanks, HConn. I was looking for a book with shifting POV to see how the author handles it. I'll have to look for that one. Do you think it's handled well?

Deb Lauman
Author of "I. Joseph Kellerman"
www.debralauman.com
 
Old 12-06-2003, 06:35 AM   #146
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Alas, my library didn't have a copy of Swan Song. Instead, I got a copy of <A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671867113/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Moonlight Becomes You</A> by Mary Higgins Clark.

Here's the last scene from Chapter 34:

<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 with affection.

"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. Noticing the bemused expression on their faces, he added, "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 slowly, searching her memory. "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 mused. "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 him. "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>

It seems to me that the POV is <a href="http://www.livejournal.com/~jonquils/2112.html" target="_new">3rd person</a> <a href="http://www.sla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/narratology/terms/omniscient.html" target="_new">omniscient</a>. We'll talk more about it in a bit, perhaps look at the whole chapter.

In each case, we know exactly whose eyes we are looking through, to whom things "seemed" or who "noticed" what.

I will comment that the last line is a great chapter close.

More anon; right now I'm off to have Movie Night at my house.
 
Old 12-06-2003, 08:38 AM   #147
HConn
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Debra, I did not think it was done well. I found it very hard to read.

I read it before I knew anything about writing or POV, so I didn't know why it was so confusing, but it was.
 
Old 12-07-2003, 10:52 AM   #148
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Is this all sounding too much like high school English class?

Regardless ... onward!
 
Old 12-07-2003, 11:08 AM   #149
EJ
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Nah. 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.
 
Old 12-07-2003, 11:23 AM   #150
James D Macdonald
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Point of View

Black = narrator, or undefined POV.
<FONT COLOR="red">Red = Robert Stephens' POV</font>
<FONT COLOR="green">Green = Neil Stephens' POV</FONT>
<FONT COLOR="blue">Blue = Dolores Stephens' POV</FONT>


<BLOCKQUOTE>
<HR>

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

<FONT COLOR="green">"You look great, Mom," Neil said with affection.</FONT>

<FONT COLOR="red">"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. Noticing the bemused expression on their faces, he added, "What are you two smiling at?"</FONT>

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

<FONT COLOR="green"> "Neil, are you still seeing that girl you brought up here in August?" his father asked.</FONT>

<FONT COLOR="green">"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."</FONT>

<FONT COLOR="green">"What's the stepmother's name?" his mother asked.</FONT>

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

<FONT COLOR="blue">"That sounds familiar," Dolores Stephens said slowly, searching her memory. "Does it to you, Robert?"</FONT>

"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 mused. "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."

<FONT COLOR="red">The call, however, was for him. "It's Laura Arlington," Dolores Stephens said as she handed the portable phone to her husband. "She sounds terribly upset."</FONT>

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>

Most of the undefined/narrator paragraphs are probably from Neil's POV.


The 3rd Omniscient POV is a very easy POV to write. Since the author knows everything it's a natural viewpoint. It is gratifying to the author's ego to stand in center stage.

This section, however, points up some of the difficulties of 3rd Omniscient: the author can come between the reader and the story (not a big problem in this book; it has lots of story), and the shifting POV can destroy unity thus confusing the reader.

A couple of minor infelicities:

You look great, Mom," Neil said with affection, verges on a Tom Swiftie: "I love hotdogs," Mandy said with relish, or "My headache is gone," Tom said absentmindedly.

Dolores mused is a said-bookism.

Neither of those things are wrong; they have to be watched lest unintentional humor be added to the stew.

Next post, I'm going to try to rewrite this scene from Neil's POV. (Neil is a major character.) Then I'll try again, from Dolores' POV (Dolores is a minor character.)
 
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Custom Search

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

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)


All times are GMT +4.5. The time now is 02:36 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.