One Way of Handling the Writing of Different POVs in one Novel

My WIP has two characters’ POVs. One character is our hero. I was getting distracted by the other character, but knew his story also needed to be told, for they intertwine, of course. Oh, how to weave them together into make-sense archs? The recommended alternate chapters did not allow for the larger picture. I found that the dance I was creating involved a lot of toe-stepping.

After continually getting myself confused (Which month is it now? Where did I leave the other?), I finally decided to focus on one character at a time. Oh, how writing life becomes so simple when centering on one thing at a time. (I’m not a very good multitasker, anyway.)

Our hero’s tale is done at 45k. The other messy tale is at 20k, but only about half-done in rough draft stage. Since extracting one POV from the other, I’ve realized exactly how messy messy is. I’ve taken the 12 chapters and started a new file. Oh. It is so messy!

Now I have color coded the chapters within the text and am in the process of writing out the chapter summaries, title, or sometimes a lone scene, onto index cards. In the order I wrote them, it looks like someone shuffled up the deck pretty good. But this is a start…or rather, a middle. I must determine what character #2 really wants, and then what he really, really wants, and if it has any connection with character #1 at all. Then I will have to decide whether to toss half of the chapters I’ve already written in his POV, or twist them into cohesive shape. Or just start fresh.

Ah, the writing life.

Villians and other Scaries

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Thinking of writing about bad guys, I started wondering what makes them so bad. One thing which comes to mind is that there is something socially unacceptable about him, something which makes her stand out in a crowd, something not quite “normal.” Another thing is the element of surprise, as in, he seemed so regular, or you thought she was your friend, a person just like you, until… Most importantly (HUGE flares go up for winning the top villain reason), there’s conflict. And conflict gives birth to emotion. A story without conflict will put you to sleep. Life without conflict is boring — although those of us with plenty of conflict in our lives fantasize how lovely it would be without any.

Writing challenge: Name your top three real-life villains. Or think of just one.

Two stipulations: 1) They have to be real people and 2) You have to personally have had contact with him/her; so it can’t be a Satan incarnate taking over the world type.

Name not the person, but why they rank so high on your list of despicables.

10,000 Lives

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Life is so fascinating. If I lived 10,000 lifetimes, I couldn’t do, learn, see, say, taste, or meet all I would love to. I’m neither Hindu nor Buddhist. Even if I were, I wouldn’t remember my previous lives, so being one doesn’t even count for more than one life. We only have one life to live. Maybe I should write a soap opera show with this brilliant title. Oh. Right.

I attended a symposium this past weekend. A Navajo workshop speaker shared how, growing up off reservation and also being college educated, he wanted to live on reservation to know how it felt, including not knowing from day to day from where food or money would come. He told how he made a three-year commitment, he would survive like his people did during that time period, or else up to the point where he would have to declare bankruptcy.

Screech, went the tires of my thought-car. How is that the same? He always had an out. Always. Unlike those who live their entire lives on reservation. And then I crashed right into my own lifetime as a writer.

What gives me the right to write about cattle round-ups (I’ve only been on two), or wildfires (I do recall the heart-racing “will we survive hiking off this mountain” and other times “will our house burn”)? What gives me the right to write about life in a small Lake Michigan town in 1873, when I don’t even live in that town, let alone not in that time? And what gives me the right to write about unicorns when I’ve only met one… Oh. Right.

I may not really have 10,000 lifetimes to live, but there are millions more than that to read about. (Yea, books!) And there are millions of stories scrambling to escape from my head. (Yea, writers!) In this one life to live today, read some, write some, talk with strangers and with friends, do something out of the ordinary, and come live 10,000 lifetimes with me.

Full Moon Hike

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I’m going on a Full Moon Hike tonight, sponsored by the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Although I know nothing more about this than the words “hike” and “night,” I can hardly wait until dark.

I figure I must be half-cat since I mostly prefer natural light to, say, flashlights. When an electrical light is on out of doors, my eyes adjust only to that one small area where the light shines. How creepy is that? What lies beyond that lit circle? If I were a cartoonist, there would probably be lots of eyes watching me. I prefer my eyes adjusted to the darkness, where I can see shadows moving and identify shapes.

Yet, we are talking full moon here. I have been around on full moon nights before, sometimes the light is so bright I can read by it. Unfortunately, there’s not much snow on the ground right now, so we won’t get that tripled-brightness which a full moon on white snow gives. Still, it will be enough light for bumbling humans to trampse around in.

Maybe I’ll slip away from the group… after dropping a hint here and there about snipes and snipehunts. I’ll trail behind behind the ones who depend on flashlights to light their way… and then take a silent shortcut through the woods… and then…

Wait one minute. Am I creating a story scene here, or remembering snipe hunts of my past, or what they might have been like?

One of the coolest things about writing fiction is that you can play the “what if” game, and it doesn’t even have to stay in your head. You can get it onto paper (or flashdrive or iphone). Plus, you constantly have conversations with people who don’t even exist. In the normal world, this would be a crazy person posting such thoughts. But in the writing world, this IS normal.

Never let go of your imaginative ways.

No Moving Body Parts!

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When I first started in this writing business (for real), I was in a critique group with a wonderful well-published author who wrote in a completely different genre than I. When she’d come across some of my phrases, like “Her eyes dropped to the floor,” Barb would waggle her finger at me and say, “No moving body parts!” I guess I did it often enough for the phrase to stick in my head.

Today I came across a critique from someone in my critique group, of someone else’s writing. The critiquer had highlighted that the submitter used the phrase “her eyes darted around the room” twice in as many paragraphs. It was the repetition which she’d pointed out. But for a flash, I remembered Barb’s words and imagined the heroine eyes floating from the body and moving quickly around.

So, here is my question concerning this phrase: Can eyes dart (they do within sockets), or should they not dart (detached from the body)?

Voice Workshop – Post #3 – Exercises

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Continuing with our online critique group’s Voice Workshop. Our workshop teacher, Rose Green, had us do some voice recognition and experimenting exercises. 

Exercise #1, part a: Find a passage in a published book with a good example of voice.

I was terrified of this exercise. Even after reading the assigned articles, what did I know of voice? It’s the very reason I so needed this workshop. I simply couldn’t wrap my brain around what voice was. When I was a kid, if I didn’t know how to spell a word, teachers told me to look it up in the dictionary. I don’t care how big the dictionary, I could never find the word psychology in the “S” section. Finding voice was the same. And then – kapowie – it stuck me. The published author who came to mind has a voice which is the voiciest voice I know: Barbara Parks in her Junie B. Jones series. The passage I chose was from Junie B. Jones is (Almost) a Flower Girl, p. 19.

The next day at recess, I sang the pretty bride song.

I sang it to my bestest friends named Lucille and that Grace.


That Grace looked admiring at me.

“Wow. I never even knew that song had words,” she said.


Exercise #1, part b: Embland the passage.

What a cool-cool word. I like to roll it around in my mouth. Embland. Embland. What it means is to take out the voice, to make it bland. So here was my attempt:

The next day at recess, I sang the bride song to my friends, Lucille and Grace.

“Here comes the bride. All dressed in white. Her name is Clyde and she reads TV guide.”
Grace smiled and said, “Nice.”


What I learned from doing this exercise: 1) I CAN recognize voice; 2) I don’t follow directions very well – I added my own voice with the last word of the emblanding exercise; 3) taking voice out of the passage certainly made the words sound dull; and 4) Dag-nab-it! Why did the emblanded passage have to sound an awfully lot like I write.


Exercise #2  Pick a passage from your own writing and instead of emblanding it, give it more voice.

For everyone in our group, this was much more difficult than doing it with someone else’s writing.  To me, it ended up being more noticing when I told and didn’t show and putting things into my main character’s mind. I found with mine and with some of the others, that it is easiest to do this voice when using dialoge. But friend Jaclyn shot that down with what she did with her own passage. Jaclyn’s changed passage was still in narration, however, in her voicier passage I felt that it read like first person v.s. third.

From Jaclyn’s writing:

Mr. Gormelly, Shasta’s homeroom teacher, was talking to a boy that Shasta did
not know when she entered and made her way to her usual seat.  He gestured toward a
desk at the back of the second row and the boy nodded.  As the students filed into
homeroom, Mr. Gormelly made the announcement.
 “Class, settle down and take your seats, please.  We have a new student with us
and I’d like to introduce him before first period begins.”
 As Shasta slid in behind her desk, she tried to size up the new boy.  He wasn’t
completely hot but he wasn’t bad, either.  There was something uneasy about him,
though.  Shasta thought it could be the dark look in his eyes; almost like that of a
criminal.  She had to smirk at her own imagination sometimes.
Shasta frowned as she made her way to her usual seat.  Who was that boy talking
to Mr. Gormelly?  She watched the boy glance toward the second row and nod. 
Still fixated on the new boy, Shasta could briefly hear Mr. Gormelly’s voice in the
background, but only caught the words “new student”.
Her curiousity still not satisfied, Shasta popped open the flap of her white backpack style
purse and pretended to check out her bangs.  She waited for the boy to sit, so she could get
a better look at his face.  Something about his dark brooding eyes made her think
of the book they’d been reading in English, The Outsiders, and she wondered if
he’d been in a gang in his old school.  Closing the flap on her bag, she tried to settle into
the routine of another boring class, but her imagination continued to remain fixated on
the new kid.

Voice Workshop – Post #2 – What is Voice? (What I Learned From Others)

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The first day of the workshop for our on-line critique group, our workshop leader, Rose Green, gave us several links to articles and blogs. A couple of us “students” also shared a link or two. We read the dozen or so articles, then discussed what we learned. Here are a few of my highlighted insights.

Learned from Margot Finke on Harold Underdown’s site: There are two voices in writing – the author’s voice and character voice. This was brilliant, and finally made some things clear to me. Articles I’d read had to do with one or the other, making me confused as to what this voice was which everyone was talking about. Margot simply informed the reader me that sometimes an agent/editor/author may be speaking about author voice, and sometimes they may be speaking about character voice. Huge lightbulb turned on for me.

Learned from Editor Caroline Meckler, from Tabitha Olsen’s blog: Voice is the expression of the content, consisting of various elements, including diction, detail, imagery, syntax, and tone. This has to do with author voice, previously might be known as style.

Learned from Editor Cheryl Klein: Play with masks. Put on the mask of one of your characters and write in that character’s voice for a while, whether s/he is the MC or not.

Voice Workshop – Introduction

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My on-line critique group has taken a break from our weekly critiquing now and then to do workshops. Since “voice” is big with agents and editors now, and we have been talking about it for the past year or more, this week our critique group is doing a Voice Workshop together, led by our own, Rose Green. Then here, smack-dab in the middle of the week, I got this brilliant idea that next week we each write a post on our blogs on Voice, as sort of a term paper summary from this week.

It will take a while to soak in all the things we’ve been learning, so I may be compartmentalizing into more than one post next week. I always tended to be a rule breaker, even when I was the one making up the rules.

What we hope to discover in our Voice Workshop is:

1) What is Voice?

2) How do you create Voice?

3) What kinds of Voice appeal to you?

See you next week.

Why Write? (part II)

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I feel like standing up and saying, “Hi. My name is Sandy. I’m a writer.”

I haven’t confessed to too many people that I actually have four blogs. I don’t post on them all regularly, but they are four very different blogs on very different subjects. For instance, I also have a humor blog where I write true funny family stories, but also stick in some good old clean jokes now and then. That blog is strictly for sharing the funny. Another blog concerns my husband’s occupation — b.o.r.i.n.g. to most people.

Why four blogs? For compartmentalizing different focuses.

I also have written nonfiction articles, as well as stories cross-genre and cross-age, from PB to adult thrillers. (The last is under a pen name, so as not to confuse my dear children readers.)

When I was a freshman in college, my advisor — a very plump woman threatening the existence of her chair, with narrow eyes which burned into your very soul — asked me what I wanted to be (when I grew up). I got all fluttery and replied, “I just don’t know. I love being outside, but I love working with kids, and I want to help people, and I want to explore places, and –” She slammed her hand to her desk to stop my babbling. I was startled because, after all, she’d asked. She waggled her finger at me and said, “Focus. Decide on one thing and do it.” Then she waved me out of her presence with the back of her hand. I was devastated. But then, I ended up in a profession which did all of the above. I was an elementary school teacher, and a girl scout leader, later becoming a wife and mom and cub scout leader. I really COULD do it all. Ha on her!

Coming back to my wide interest in writing… I feel my former advisor shaking her pudgy finger in my face with a “Focus!” Will I ever learn? Could I focus on just one series and write a bazillion stories with those characters? Not sure it’s in my varied personality. But because of my families adventuresome spirit, I don’t need to do tons of research for what it would be like in many situations. We’ve been there. OH! something I hadn’t thought about because it is far too scattered to focus into one book — a memoir!