USING MULTIPLE VIEWPOINTS – TUESDAY WRITING TIPS

People often ask me , “How do you decide which point of view” to write in and to be honest, I think the decision is pretty much out of my hands. It’s the characters who decide.

As they emerge onto the page, they find their own way of speaking and getting their point of view across.

I’m currently working on my YA thriller, The Secret Life of Mindy Palmer about 17 year old Lia whose sister Mindy is murdered and Lia sets out to find the killer.

Initially I started telling the story entirely from Lia’s point of view:

 Lia

When Mindy died, pain gripped my heart like a hangman’s noose.

After three months, people said it was time to let her go, but I couldn’t. I missed my sister like crazy, and that last night of her life, Mindy had been trying to tell me something. I knew it. I should have asked more questions. I should have got answers. No matter what the cops said, Mindy’s death wasn’t a random act of teen daring. It was murder.

But then, the more I wrote, the more Mindy’s character appeared in my head too… and insisted on telling her side of things – she wanted the reader to know who she was and what really happened to her. She wanted to live her life again through my story.

Mindy

They say your whole life flashes in front of you just before you drown…and it’s true. That’s what alerts me to the fact that I’m about to die – that this time, the river is not going to let me go.

I had kind of been ignoring Mindy for a while and trying to focus on Lia, but Mindy kept insisting and in the end I gave in and decided to let her have her say. And to be honest, I think it’s added a lot more depth to my story. It allows me to build suspense because I can show the reader things through Mindy’s eyes…and give the reader information that the main character, Lia doesn’t know. So the reader soon discovers that Lia is in more danger than she realises.

There are a number of advantages to having more than one point of view. It means the reader can see things from different perspectives and that certain discoveries can be delayed. It has helped eliminate the flat points in my story.

But it hasn’t stopped there. As I kept writing,  a new voice emerged, wanting to have their say. It belonged to Lia’s best friend Steve who has been acquainted with the family all their lives and knows things about Mindy that Lia doesn’t even know.

Steve adds a male point of view to the mix and also allows me to present the entire Palmer family from a more objective point of view.

Some people aren’t born to deal with the crap that life dishes out. When reality slams them to the dirt, they can’t just pick themselves up and brush off the damage. They’re crushed in a way they can’t recover from without help. That’s why I’m sticking with Lia every step of the way, until we find the prick who killed her sister.I guess what I’m learning from this is that point of view is not static. There are no hard and fast rules and point of view is something that can change during the course of writing your story. It’s a case of listening to your characters and deciding what works best for you and the characters.

If something you’ve written in third person makes you feel as if your character is too distant, try rewriting it in first person. Experiment – see what works best. And don’t be afraid of multiple points of view, just make sure all the characters have strong, unique voices, that they come into the story at the right times and that each character has their own story arc.

If you have any tips or experiences about using multiple points of view, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)

Dee

P.S. Friday Feedback is on at DeeScribe Writing this Friday. Check back for a sample piece of writing and feedback.

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TUESDAY WRITING TIPS – WRESTLING WITH FORMAT

I have to confess to being pretty well stumped recently on the edits for my YA novel Street Racer. I was happy with the plot and the last half of the story, but the first part just didn’t seem to be working.

I’ve blogged about this before, but I’ve realised that what’s not working for me is my main character’s voice.

So over the last few weeks/months I have been exploring new possibilities for my MC. I had a thing for Master Chef for a while and thought that he might be  a cook, but I soon realised that WASN’T Ric. He’s not a chef, he’s a muso, a kind of rugged creative boy who’s not afraid to take risks. Ric ‘told’ me that he has his own band and that music means a lot to him.

So, it was time for a rethink. Time to make some music. If Ric was going to be in a band, it had to have a name – and of course he’d have a favourite band and that would need a name too.

So having come up with two band names that my teen and pre-teen son approved of, it was time to make some music. Gulp! It was time for me to take the plunge and write some songs – after all, every band makes its own music.

And bands write songs, don’t they? So that was my next task. That’s where the exploring new mediums comes in. To make my book, my mc and his band authentic, I needed to write songs.

I don’t have any expertise or experience in this field – all I have is my ‘creative’ brain, a willingness to try new things, a love of singing, a vision for my story, and some idea of how poems are written – and my philosophy that when it comes to writing, I’ll ‘give anything a go’.

After some angst and stress I emerged with five songs and on the whole I’m happy with how they’ve turned out.

Here’s a sample of one of Ric’s songs:

Engine oil

hot rod metal

pounding hearts

stamping feet

band plays

dog barks

rhythm and beat

rhythm and beat

Ric’s songs might not win any ARIAs, but this is what they do:

  1. Reflect contemporary culture and issues
  2. Fit with my main character’s voice and character
  3. Have rhythm and beat
  4. Have relevance to the story
  5. Add another dimension to my main character and his story

So I’m guess what I’m saying is this. When you’re writing a story, don’t be afraid to try something new, to explore new mediums to venture into a new realm that’s going to add another layer, another experience to your writing.

You never know till you try something.

Step outside the square and see where your creativity takes you. Apart from being a lot of fun it can really enhance your story.

Happy writing:-)

Dee

POSTSCRIPT: Street Racer started life as a verse novel and although I loved the verse, I have come to realise that it doesn’t work for this topic or this readership.

So, with heavy heart, I have discarded the last of the verse and rewritten it as journal entries.

As my wise 14 year-old son says, “Don’t worry Mum, you can always write a verse novel about something else.”


WRESTLING WITH FORMAT

Engine oil

hot rod metal

pounding hearts

stamping feet

band plays

dog barks

rhythm and beat

rhythm and beat

Over the last few months I have been wrestling with the format of my YA novel, Street Racer, To verse or not to verse, to have multiple points of view or not?

I ‘think’ I have finally made my decision based on the subject matter of the novel and the target readership.

Read all about it next Tuesday at Tuesday Writing Tips.

Till then, happy writing:-)

Dee

WHERE DO I START MY STORY? Whose Point Of View?

Whenever, I’m going to begin a new story, I always start with a head full of ideas…and a big piece of blank paper.

I ask myself a lot of questions – the two main ones being:

  1. What’s going to happen in my story?
  2. Who do I want to tell my story?

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN MY STORY

This is the plotting part – this is where I sit down and try to free my mind and just write down random ideas that come into my head. I don’t rearrange them into the story order until later – and some of the original ideas won’t get used at all. This is the mind-mapping part I talked about on Tuesday.

Sometimes I even change what happens in my story as I go. Sometimes, the character decides they want to go in a completely different direction. In fact, the more I think about who the main character really is – and what motivates them – the more the plot for my story develops.

When I’m thinking about the plot for my story, I think about:

  1. What is going to happen?
  2. How is it going to happen?
  3. Why is it going to happen?
  4. When is it going to happen?
  5. Where is it going to happen?
  6. WHO is it going to happen to?

WHO IS GOING TO TELL MY STORY?

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. I am the writer, and yes…I am the one writing down the story…but whose eyes will I tell it through? Whose point of view shall I tell the story from?

If I tell it in first person point of view (using ‘I’); then I will probably have the main character tell my story. This way of telling a story lets me write what is going on in my main character’s head.

For example: I don’t do furry pets and family holidays – probably comes from growing up without a mum. (From ‘Letters to Leonardo’ published by Walker Books 2009).

I could tell it from third person point of view where someone narrates what is happening to my main character, and this lets me describe more how things look etc.

For example: Matt wasn’t into furry pets and family holidays. There had always just been him and Dad, and they never went anywhere.

If I want to tell it from more than one person’s point of view, I can do this is third person omniscient where I hop from one character’s head to another. This can be a great way of adding lots of different perspectives to the story, but it can get confusing if you hop around too much.

For example: Matt had never been on a family holiday. Dad worked every weekend so they never got to go anywhere. Troy’s family went away all the time. Troy wondered how Matt coped with the boredom.

Don’t be afraid to change to a different point of view if the first one you tried doesn’t seem to be working. And don’t worry about scribbling all over the blank paper in writing that your mother couldn’t read. It’s important to get your ideas down so they don’t become a mish mash in your head. Then you can decide the order later.

The most important thing with starting a story is to ‘Start It’. Don’t put it off any longer. If you want to be a writer…you have to write, write and write some more.

Happy writing:-)

Dee

HOW TO DECIDE “WHICH” POINT OF VIEW – Tuesday Writing Tip

Following my blog piece about Point of View on 19th January https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/tuesday-writing-tip-pondering-point-of-view/  a number of people had questions about head hopping and choosing point of view.

It seemed like another blog post was definitely needed.

Mabel wanted to know,

Is it OK to have MC point of view told in the third person?

The answer to that Mabel is a definite, “Yes”. Choosing which point of view to tell your character’s story from is entirely up to you.

This is the last day of my Tuesday Writing Tips Blog Tour, so Mabel if you join us at the blog of Author and illustrator, Angela Sunde http://angelasunde.blogspot.com, you’ll find out a whole lot more about point of view.

Angela writes kid’s books and is also an extremely talented illustrator. I couldn’t resist showing you her wonderful illustration of Chee Chee the chook. Here it is.

Angela came third in illustrated picture book and the graphic novel category in the 2009 CYA competition for her gorgeous pics of Chee Chee and Mia.

Tuesday Writing Tips continues as normal next week at this blog https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com where  we’ll be discussing Good Writing Habits. Hope you can join us then.

In the meantime, if you’ve missed any of the Tuesday Writing Tips Blog Tour, here’s where we’ve been:

DATE BLOG TOPIC

2ND February 2010

Claire Saxbyhttp://letshavewords.blogspot.com Writing Picture Books – Leaving room for the illustrator.
9th February 2010 Dee Whitehttps://deescribewriting.wordpress.com Reviewing ‘There Was an Old Sailor’Reviewing vs Editing skills.
16th February 2010 Sandy Fussellwww.sandyfussell.blogspot.com Writers Need to be avid free range readers
23rd February 2010 Robyn Opiewww.robynopie.blogspot.com How to make your story longer – adding layers.
2ND March 2010 Angela Sundewww.angelasunde.blogspot.com More about Point of View – head hopping.

Happy writing,

Dee:-)

Tuesday Writing Tip – MORE ABOUT POINT OF VIEW

Talented author and illustrator, Angela Sunde

Tomorrow we’re going ‘in depth’ on point of view. It’s the last day of the Tuesday Writing Tips blog tour, and it’s going to be “big”.

I’ll be visiting talented author and illustrator, Angela Sunde http://angelasunde.blogspot.com to discuss the complexities of Point of View, and answer some ‘reader’ questions.

What are the various types and how do you choose which one for your story? And then there’s the vexed question of ‘head hopping’.

To find out more, drop back here tomorrow.

See you then.

Happy writing,

Dee:-)

TUESDAY WRITING TIP – Pondering Point of View

Jessica had  a great question for us at the DeeScribewriting blog. She said:

I’d be interested in knowing a little more about choosing point of view in a young adult novel. Are there different considerations for YA as compared to adult novels? Are omniscient and third person possibilities or do the younger readers need the immediacy of first person?”

This is a really interesting question, Jessica and there is no right or wrong answer – it’s what works for you. Third person and first person are both fine for YA novels – it depends on you and your story. Young readers can cope with either.

My early drafts of Letters to Leonardo were in first person because I felt that it helped me to get closer to my main character, Matt – and seeing he was writing letters to Leonardo da Vinci, it seemed kind of essential.

I was awarded a mentorship to work on the manuscript with an experienced writer, and she recommended that I change the point of view to third person. She felt that this would allow for more description and scene setting. I tried, I really did – it just didn’t work for me. It made me feel too distant from my main character.

The publishers must have agreed because nobody was interested in publishing Space, the version that was written in third person. Then again, there were plenty of other things wrong with that manuscript too – but that’s a story for another day.

One of the strengths of writing YA in first person is that it allows you to establish a unique voice for your main character. This isn’t impossible in third person, it’s just that it’s harder to do – and I think, requires great skill as a writer.

I have read some stunning YA books written in third person. They work because they are so beautifully written that the author still manages to make you feel that you are right there with the main character, and the setting description draws you into their world.  I can’t list all of the great YA third person books here, but if you are looking for a place to start you could try:

  • Dodger by Libby Gleeson
  • Marty’s Shadow by John Heffernan
  • Ganglands by Maureen McCarthy
  • The Singer of all Songs by Kate Constable
  • Feral Kid by Libby Hathorn

Third person allows for more physical description of the main character – it lets you see them through someone else’s eyes. It also allows you to keep secrets from your main character which another character knows – and the reader knows that they know – and wonders what will happen when the main character finds out. This is a great suspense builder and such secrets can be an important part of the character’s journey.

When Choosing Point of View – Ask yourself this:

“Who do I want to tell my character’s story? –How much does that person know?” The answers to these questions will help you make your decision.

It’s also a question of your writing style. If you’re not happy with how something is turning out, try writing it from a different point of view – this could be changing from first to third person or vice versa – or it could even require you to get a different character to tell your story.

My novel, Shadows of Silence (yet to be published) started out as a kid’s book. It’s about a child with selective mutism who can’t talk outside his home. It’s based on a true story and has powerful themes, but I soon realized it was too heavy going for kids. I rewrote it as an adult novel from the mother’s point of view and it works so much better.

For me, first person seems to be my natural voice, but maybe that’s because it’s the one I grew up using. I think if you are using first person, you need to make sure that you maintain your action, description and dialogue and try where possible to minimize the use of ‘I’.

So I suppose my final piece of advice is to see what comes naturally to you – and don’t be afraid to try rewriting your story in a different point of view if it doesn’t seem to be working.

I hope this helps. Thanks for sharing your question with us Jessica.

Happy writing

Dee:-)

If you have a writing question you’d like answered, leave it as a comment on this post, and I’ll schedule it in as a Tuesday Writing Tip.

Next Tuesday we’ll be looking at networking opportunities for authors. Hope you can join us then.

*    *    *    Stay tuned for more about point of view. We’ll be discussing First person and Third person POV in more detail on 2nd March, and looking at how to hop from head to head.