Tag Archive - POV

Considerations for the First Page of Your Novel

I hope you know why it’s so important to craft a terrific first page. Surely if your first page is awful, it’s likely your reader won’t read further. And that’s a bad thing.

When we realize that literary agents often won’t read beyond the first paragraph if it doesn’t spark interest, it puts a lot of pressure on us writers to come up with a stellar first page.

But it doesn’t and can’t stop there. A great first page is not going to make up for the next three hundred blah pages.

While there is a ton to learn about scene and novel structure (and my blog contains something like a million words of instruction on those topics, so dig in!), there are some key lessons to learn about fiction writing from focusing on the first page.

Why? Because the elements on a first page should (and usually do) reflect the quality of writing in the rest of a novel. In other words, you can’t just work hard to make that first page sing and then ignore the rest of your manuscript.  Continue Reading…

A Deep Dive into POV

One of the most important decisions a writer has to make is regarding what POV she will use for her story or novel—not what character to write in, necessarily, but whether to write in first or third person, and if the latter, what variant of third person to use.

Sometimes the reason writers fall into the POV pit is the wrong choice of POV in the first place. They may have chosen to write their novel in first person, but their plot and premise require showing a lot of action involving other characters at times when they are not with the protagonist.

Genre may also influence this choice—for example, much YA today, especially dystopian, is in first person, present tense. This POV and tense provide the greatest intimacy with the main character, and that’s what YA readers want.

Some stories are essentially one character’s journey of deep insight and reaction to the world around her. Women’s Fiction, for example, is often told in first-person POV, for a deeper sense of intimacy. Other stories need to show multiple characters’ motivation, needs, and goals for the plot to work, and so usually the best option is multiple or shifting third-person POV. And yes—even despite all the warnings you might hear, you can use omniscient if you want to. It’s your story, after all.

But more than genre should determine the choice of POV. The primary question is “Which POV choice will best tell this story?” Often that choice is third person. Continue Reading…

A Look at Masterful Character Description

We began this series on masterful writing last week by taking a look at James Lee Burke’s wonderful character descriptions. All too often writers—beginning and seasoned—skimp on description. Or if they do manage a few lines, they’re uninspired, boring, or laden with stereotype. Good writing—masterful writing—takes hard work.

But it’s not just effort that’s involved. More than effort is needed to craft masterful description. Description is more than what the eye sees. It involves making judgments, coming to conclusions, forming impressions. Since our descriptions must be filtered through our POV character’s mind and heart, instead of thinking of description as a laundry list of items (hair color, eye color, shoe brand), they should reveal just as much, if not more, about our POV character as the person (or place or animal or food—anything) being described.

Think how differently you might approach describing a character who walks into a room if you focused more on the one witnessing than the one being described.

I mentioned in the last post that you must truly know your characters through and through. You must create deep, rich, complex characters full of experience, opinions, tastes, beliefs, sensibilities, prejudices, wounds, knowledge, and so much more. If you don’t, you can’t mine deeply into description fully in POV. Continue Reading…

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