Tag Archives: Writing Toolbox

Toolbox 18: Third-Person Omniscient Point Of View

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

~~~oOo~~~

While I was soul-searching and reading about writing the mystery genre, I discovered several explanations of third-person omniscient pov.

The pros of third-person omniscient pov:

  • Narrator knows all: which is limited only by the pacing of shared information over time
  • The use of summaries, transitions and bits of telling are acceptable and encourage to maintain reasonable word count
  • Conflict shows each character’s deepest expressible traits during a scene or dramatic moment.
  • Small spurts of backstory—personal or worldwide—can introduce or quickly explain character behavior and social climate within scene.
  • The biggest advantage of the objective point of view is it allows the reader to make up their own mind about the unfolding events within the story.

Cons:

  • The lack of connection and sympathy for the characters because inner thoughts are used sparingly if at all.
  • Depends completely on descriptions of body language, dialogue, and reactions to concrete details to express each character’s emotional state.

Other Cons and their solutions:

  • Head hopping an be avoided by sticking to the narrator’s pov.
  • Info dumps can be avoided by using using restraint when including transitions, backstories, and summaries. Less is more.
  • Psychic characters. Writers must remember that the narrator knows all—not the players.

Objective vs Subjective

Objective (dramatic) third-person omniscient pov is more of a fly on the wall narration. Think of watching TV or a movie. The narrator’s voice is nonexistent. Character’s emotional state is shown through stage direction, body language, concrete details, foreshadowing, flashbacks, and dialogue. No internal thoughts are shared. Emotionally charged words like felt/assumed or angry/sad are avoided.

Therefore, the reader has to determine what each character is feeling and thinking through observation alone.

Subjective point of view has a strong narrative voice. It is intrusive and can be anyone: a child, pet, ghost, etc. The whole story is filtered through the narrator’s tone, attitude and the judgment of the players.

There is less distance, because it is possible for the reader get close to and/or sympathize with the narrator. Especially when done with a slice of comedy.

Omniscient vs Limited pov

Although both are similar enough to be used (almost) the same way during a dialogue heavy scene, they have quite different advantages.

Third Person Omniscient’s descriptors are slightly different in a tell-y kind of way. They can simply state what kind of person a character is: weak but honest, harsh and cruel. It allows for quick explanations. The showing is focused on body language, dialogue, and reactions to concrete details.

Third Person Limited has more show-y descriptors. They are the observations of the protagonist and reflect as much about the person sharing as it does about the character being described. Inner thoughts are deep and limited to the observer comments.

Why consider using omniscient pov at all?

Plot driven stories aren’t completely dependent on the reader-character connection. Depending on the scope of the story your trying to tell, it may help with an unacceptably large word count. Summaries and transitions allow the reader to traverse time and space quickly and easily. It also allows the reader to engage with the story without getting confused or lost in its enormity.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Please share, I’m glad to learn more.

Gleaned from:

Advertisements

Toolbox 17: Tracking Timelines—Story and Reference Material

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

~~~oOo~~~

Whether telling a story chronologically or not, there should be a record of what happened and in what order.

It simplifies things.

I started writing a little document for each story about how the suspects knew each other before the inciting incident (usually murder in my case) and their motives behind their behavior afterward.

This evolved into other reference documents.

historical event timeline:

Whether in bullet form or in a short description, the incident must have a detailed timeline. Because it is in these facts, the murder and its motives are rooted.

The frenemies of the suspect pool share a common point in their histories—a wedding, a funeral, a picnic, etc. Something happens there and this historical event changes all of them to some degree.

Whatever the occurrence, it is the source/motive of all their following interactions… with the murder victim as the linchpin in both events.

Because the relationships between the characters were solidified long before they met again, their resulting interactions are more organic.

Think of a family stricken by a death and the member’s individual reactions. Some may feel guilt or react so strongly they that it can’t be contained. Words are said that can’t be forgotten, and/or forgiven. Violence may break out.

Just as likely,  a love affair may be abandoned because of the event. Leaving one of both lovers pining or dreaming of what might have been.

Everyone goes back to their usual life, but their feelings rub raw over time.  These rifts, bonds, scars, obsessions, and unfinished business overflow into the story timeline.

historical event touches the story Timeline

Later in the story, the characters will reveal certain events which may not be correctly remembered by everyone or had festered within one individual, warping their memory. No matter what happened, however, these recollections are up to the reader to interpret when the frenemies finally have it out.

The chaos between the suspect pool provokes fake alibis, lies, motives to kill, and deep dark secrets revealed.

MURDER Timeline

In theory every suspect should have had an opportunity/means/motive to harm the victim. Only one commits the crime unless it’s an Orient Express retelling.

Again, whether in bullet form or not, a copy of the murder must be written down for reference.

Why?

Because if something in my mystery timeline prompts a change, I can easily update all my reference material.

Story Timeline

In MS Word, I use the chapter/scene headings and table of contents to track my timeline. In each heading I note the day and time. As I re-rearrange my work so it will read better, I update the table of contents which supplies a new list of headings.

Reading it, I can easily see if something needs to be fixed.

In Scrivener, I use the meta-data or scene/chapter synopsis section and track my timeline from there.

For both, I simply use: “Day One AM” or Day One PM”. I break it down further only if necessary.

My motives are simple. These three documents help me keep the facts in order so I won’t paint myself into a corner. It gives me an opportunity to update one central document as I rewrite. It also helps me find plot holes and gives me an opportunity to look objectively for plot twists.

I hope I’ve made my thoughts clear. If not, I welcome questions? Feel free to ask away.

Toolbox 16: Engaging the Reader

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

~~~oOo~~~

I don’t know about you but I’ve been asking myself this for some time. What engages a reader? That fell flat on its face, so I move on to why do I read.

  • Biggest reason is I’m looking for the next big story.

While I’m looking I’m okay with:

  • visiting to another world (fantasy or not)
  • enjoying a good laugh, surprises, crazy antics
  • solving mysteries

I thought long and hard about what makes up a great story. The Five (TV Series) comes to mind. It blew my mind, but I’m not talking. You’ll have to watch it yourself.

And The Magicians + the Wayward series (the books) were definitely good.

I Googled it. Online says its all about the characters. I’m not sure it is only the characters, but I have to start somewhere.

WHAT MAKES CHARACTERS COMPELLING?

My problem is don’t necessarily connect with the characters immediately but I do accept them. I’m like that with the people I meet as well. Be warned: it’s a personal thing that may slant my point of view.

Online suggests to write a compelling story, we must start with a compelling character.

Some traits to include:

  • well-rounded and random characteristics from all walks of life
  • a driving need, desire, ambition or goal
  • a deeply hidden, possibly shameful, secret
  • coping/not coping with a contradiction and vulnerability (ex. bravery = deep need vs fear)
  • showing vulnerabilities beneath a tough exterior (to the reader at least)
  • the constant pressure of the consequences of success and failure
  • the drive to face an opponent that has a better chance of succeeding than they do

What’s a hero without a villain

Something I love to see the protagonist and antagonist are both sympathetic characters. I love understanding and even agreeing with both sides. It makes for an undetermined outcome. (Rarely found in a mystery.)

Lets say we’ve done all this and the readers are still not connecting. What then?

Characters carry the reader with them throughout; but occasionally, it takes time to get to know them. Stalling for time….

The world

We might have a very strong woman on a vestroid in the Asteroid Belt. We don’t know why she’s there.

Why do we care?

We might not. But hey! we are experiencing the Asteroid Belt. Hopefully that’s cool enough until the reader gets into the murder, industrial espionage and characters.

I’m thinking of the Magicians and Wayward. Sometimes the world can draw a reader in.

The Stakes

It isn’t the actor as much as what they face that brings out the egads in us.

Our actor faces an incident that could shatter their outer world as well as their inner reality, leaving them changed forever. The consequences leading to something more unimaginable. And will not only destroy the protagonist, but everyone else in their world.

For example check out an episode of Manifest.

Whether or not we used the stakes as a draw, we need to express them as early as possible.

OUR MISSION AS WRITERS

All of us need to find a way to engage our readers. They’ve checked out our cover, and read the blurb. They’ve scanned the first few pages. Lets not lose them now.

Anything you’d like to add? I’m all ears.

Gleaned from:

Toolbox 15: Horror Writing

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

~~~oOo~~~

I’ve read all kinds of how-to writing manuals. That said, I know that I won’t write romance, but some of my stories will have romantic elements. I include several genre elements in my work, so why not horror.

It’s October and during this month I watch, read and eat up horror stories.

Stephen King built his career on horror in the early years. Some quotes to consider:

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
― Stephen King

“There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.”
― Stephen King

“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” 
― Stephen King

My favorite is psychological

Some people imagine blood and guts when it comes to horror. I don’t. I’m more of the person who makes sure the windows and doors are locked because I suddenly suspect there is a vampire outside. I’m all about atmosphere and the creepy feeling that doesn’t go away after the story is over.

It’s exhilarating, and to me that’s horror!

It starts off in a normal world we are all familiar with. Then slowly changes into a world no one else would recognize.

Why it works

Horror has monsters—human and otherwise.

Darkness brings an element of the unknown it. Degrees of shadows that warp everything from playgrounds, and backyards to our neighbor’s face. Friendly streets become sinister when the lights flicker off.

We can’t help but instinctively want to avoid the imagined danger.

A flashlight is just a flashlight swinging in someone hand. But when it falls to the ground and rolls to a stop, it changes.

Without the deepened shadows, we’d easily see the fellow who dropped the flashlight bending over to pick it up.

And if we can’t see what’s there?

For all we know something’s lurking. Possibly behind the flashlight carrier. When the flashlight falls and is left untouched, there is only one answer. The answer is unique to each of our imaginations. If it frightens us, and we can’t call for help, the most we might do is watch as the batteries die.

Already imagining what we’ll find only inches from the Maglite come dawn.

Suspense is not Horror

Just as not all fingers are thumbs and all thumbs are fingers.

Suspense and tension are in all good stories. We want the reader to care. To feel the emotional escalation that drives the page turner.

Horror uses suspense with a mix of the fear factor (maybe sprinkled with the terror of it all) to drive the story forward.

Heroes are different too

In horror, we count on the hero doing more than we would dare. It has become cliché for a hero, alone and unarmed, to hear a sound and pursue it into a dark basement. It’s a cliché for a reason, fellow horror lovers.

Heroes offer hope. Out of all the things that happen, one person might live.  And when we watch or read on, we need our hero to fearlessly face what scares them most. They jeopardize their lives saving others or trying to.  To feel the failure, the heartache and shake it off long enough to try one last time.

Survival brings with it a giddiness that makes life sweeter, even if we still carry a little fear with us afterward.

Are you writing any horror this month? Reading some? Tell me about it.

Also: I’ve joined Wattpad. If you’re there too, let me know. Link’s on the sidebar. 😉

Gleaned from:

Toolbox 14: Query Revamping

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

~~~oOo~~~

Last post I shared that I submitted to ten agents since then I’ve received eight rejections. All form letters confirmed in QueryTracker.

A quick visit to  Query Shark, some heavy reading and I went into revamp mode.

I reworked my query, synopsis, and sample chapters.  I didn’t have to redo all of it. Form letters usually mean the reader didn’t get past the query letter, but once I started fixing things…

What i focused on when revamping

What’s the hook? Many of the example letters started off with a general book description. I didn’t make this mistake. I’m pretty sure I was too vague. She strongly suggests looking for the crux of the character’s dilemma, a rhetorical question, or grabbing the reader with a tagline.

Why does anyone care? Excellent question—hence the rewrite. Several actually. It took work to pin down why anyone would care and want to read my book.

Maintaining an even ten

Ten queries are out and its been quiet. Of the seven rejections, one came the next day. So now I’m wondering if I hit a busy patch or maybe they haven’t gotten to me yet. OR, fingers crossed, my query letter survived the agent’s initial read through and is in a holding pattern.

Anyhoo.

I’ve read this process can take years and it has been suggested I get working on my next project just in case I run out of agents on my list to keep me moving forward.

What do you do to keep a positive outlook when submitting?