Friday, January 19, 2018

Point of View: Getting Inside Your Character's Heads

Point of View Made Simple In This Link!

When I began to write, the first person (the "I" narrator) felt most comfortable.  When you are in a character's head, "I" helps you relate to that character.  I wrote 5 novels ( 3 published) using the "I" (first person voice) to help me understand the character of my narrators. 
I  wrote short stories from various points of view, including even some beavers, but I was still most comfortable in "I' mode.  Here is an example from "The Rich Are Different" in the anthology Coast to Coast: Murder From Sea to Shining Sea. Here us Molly introducing herself. 

I got off the plane in Fort Lauderdale in early June hoping to find a cooking gig. What turned up was a chance to sling hash for the hired crew sailing the Marie Galante, a sixty-three foot yawl, to New England for the summer. Except for a husband who wants to kill me, I’d still live in my old Chicago neighborhood. Said husband is just your normal Neanderthal who went bat shit crazy when served with divorce papers and a restraining order. 
Bud, the skipper, took me under his wing, and gave me a small advance. I bought some warm second-hand clothes that I hadn’t thought to bring along and a cheap cell with pre-paid minutes. I had much to be thankful for, and I didn’t want to screw up.  
Then I began a new book with a character, Maxine. It was weird. Maxine sat on my shoulder and practically dictated the first quarter of the book to me.  But Maxine was never "I."  She was always "she."  And then I needed to get into the head of Lotto, the drug lord who wanted Maxine to disappear. It was fun to be Lotto.  He had a weird sense of humor and he fainted at the sight of blood. He thought everyone he dealt with was stupid. Lotto was not the main character, but his point of view was necessary. Maxine had a sister she was searching for. If only she could find the sister. But the sister had gone off track many years back, and wasn't anyone Maxine wanted to find, but she didn't know that. When Maxine finally found her, I was in the sister's head. She was terrible, but it was fun. She had great survival instincts, and a yen for money.  I enjoyed writing in the sister's head as much as in Lotto's.  
I wrote a women's novel and also used she, not I. It's actually the story you are writing that dictates the point of view, which writers abbreviate POV.  In that novel, I only used one point of view. Now I have started a novel set in two time periods, 1953 and the present, and of course I have two narrators. One is "I" and the other is "she." We'll see how this works out. So far so good. 
I have never written in second person, the "you" voice, but a few writers have had success with it. Here is a passage by Annie Dillard in the second person "You." 
"You are a sculptor. You climb a great ladder; you pour grease all over a growing longleaf pine. Next, you build a hollow cylinder like a cofferdam around the entire pine, and grease its inside walls. You climb your ladder and spend the next week pouring wet plaster into the cofferdam, over and inside the pine. You wait; the plaster hardens. Now open the walls of the dam, split the plaster, saw down the tree, remove it, discard, and your intricate sculpture is ready: this is the shape of part of the air." (Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Harper, 1974)
 There is also the omniscient POV,  in which the author is in everybody's head.  This was more common in prior periods, although some authors (especially in Britain) are very adept at it. It's called "head hopping." In the hands of an inexperienced writer, it can be deadly.  
When we learn to write, we learn that there is such a thing as a point of view violation, which comes from not understanding the rules. It can be blatant or so subtle no one is likely to notice.But it's best to learn and apply the rules.
Writing is a part art and part craft. The craft can be learned. My college English teacher told the class, "I can teach you to write not badly, but not well."
Ah, the subtle difference.     

These writers also have something to say on the subject.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the different takes on the same topic. Take a gander.

Dr. Bob Rich
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax
Fiona McGier
Judith Copek
Marci Baun
Anne de Gruchy
A.J. Maguire
Skye Taylor
Anne Stenhouse
Beverley Bateman
Rhobin L Courtright

Diane Bator 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Are. You An Unpublished Writer in the Crime Fiction Genre?

E.A. Poe, the father of the mystery story 

Two. $500 Scholarships from MWA Organization 

Writers who have not been published in the mystery field are eligible to apply for the annual MWA-Helen McCloy Scholarship, which awards up to $500 to each of 2 writers to take a legitimate course of study or series of classes or workshops to improve writing skills. Writers may submit the first 3 chapters of a mystery novel, or 3 short stories, or a script (movie, tv, or play), or 3 short nonfiction pieces in any mystery or mystery subgenre.

Scholarship funds will cover actual tuition and fees, not travel or accommodations, and are usually awarded in April or May of every year in time for classes beginning in the summer, fall or winter of that year or early spring the following year. You can download the application form, learn the details, and send for a copy of current guidelines here: