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.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and Other Awesome Characters

Two old siblings I know have taken to blotting out people they don’t like, whether they be acquaintances, long time friends, or even family members. With any slight (even if unintentional by others or merely perceived by them), like characters they’ve drawn with white board markers, they erase individuals around them whom they don’t like. More threatening yet, if these erased ones are mentioned in the siblings’ presence,… Look out! Their white board erasers will linger over their sketch of you!

1) These siblings are very scary, controlling, and lonely people.

2) Life is made up of the good guys, the bad guys, ugly personalities, and a whole array of other awesome characters we writers can’t ignore, for if we do, our stories threaten to be mundane and boring.

3) What an interesting fictional character these two would make. Of course, to avoid any paranoid legal ramifications (even if merely perceived by them), one would have to make them one person — two would be redundant — and change their age, gender, race, weight, religion… oh, heck. Make them aliens! And, since trouble is an author’s primary goal for her main character, bring in those hurtful, mean, controlling folk and let them have their way with your MC. My sympathy is already going out to your own MC.

Happy writing!

Money! — Your Character and Finances

Money! We all need it. (And so do the characters about whose lives we wrangle.) We either love money or hate it, often both. Of course, there are the stories of a family living in a house a few square yards long, or a man solving his financial woes by retiring, or people investing and coming out with big money.  Well, you need money to build, to have put into retirement, and to invest. You read of lottery winners or of poor girls with whom a prince falls in love with. And the chance of either of those happening is such a sliver-thin chance we know it won’t happen to us. But we still hope. Oh, why has money so fascinated us?

On Saving Money — If the average American family eats out four times a week, and my DH and I only eat out once a month (and only to a fast-food-take-it-home-to-eat place), a suggestion to cook at home in order to save money isn’t really relevant. Give up smoking? Don’t do it. Give up annual family trips? DH and I spent $2,000 on our seven-week honeymoon, camping out in or traveling through sixteen states. Our family vacations were all camping or visiting out of state family. Both our cars are eighteen years old. It’s not like we’re putting that extra money in the bank every month; it mostly goes from paycheck to mouth and bills. So how does your protagonist save money?

On Giving Away Money — Even in the church-going realm, the Bible instructs to give one tenth of your income to God. (All of what you have is God’s, but we are expected to give back only one tenth of all that.) Many people claim to be “tithers” because they give money to their churches, but a recent poll showed that only 3% of church-goers actually give that full annual ten percent (and that’s before taxes, gang). The poll also showed that the people who give the larger percent have the less income.

On Having Extra Money — Are rich people happy because of money? How many people are like Rockefeller who, when asked how much was enough, answered, “Always a little more.”

On Being Free of Money — As I mentioned, we need money, but we can be freed from the hunger of it. One of my favorite lines about money is from a movie from a book by Bernard Cornwell. When Richard Sharpe is asked, “What do you do when you don’t have money, Richard?” He answers, “Do without, Sir.” The response is, “No, Richard. You borrow!” Richard is free of the entanglement of money. How about the characters you write about?

Writing Exercise: Think about a character in your story and where they are with money. Do not just think about where they stand physically (e.g., village in Sudan, wealthy American suburb, rural, urban, tourist area). Also wrap your mind around their attitude towards money. Are they needy? Greedy? Freed from it? Then plop your character into a situation to show off that attitude (e.g., earthquake, robbed in an unfamiliar city, divorce, health issue, etc).

Happy writing.

4 Agents and Michigan Sisters in Crime

Literature Blogs

Admittedly, the past two weeks were overwhelming with writing activities — that is, attending writing activities, not writing writing activities. It started with Miss Snark’s Secret Agent contest on Monday (I got my first 250 pages in for critiques — very helpful). Monday night WriteOnCon held a chat with three agents (interesting to discover their likes and visions for the future). I planned to get a post in on both those events, but sadly, like jokes, the timing is now past.

And then last Saturday, local writer Suzanne, hosted our first Sisters in Crime Michigan chapter (not counting the organizational one) with Bill Howe, a retired crime lab supervisor with the police department and currently the investigator for the county prosecutor’s office. I am not normally a mystery or crime writer, but, hey, these were local writers willing to get together right here in my home town, some coming from two hour’s away.  And learning new things is always interesting to me, especially if I can use some of the facts I glean to put into my fictional characters.

Bill’s presentation dealt with interviews and interrogation skills. Interviews are made with anyone involved, but interrogations are reserved for suspects. Bill addressed the importance of non-verbal communication, and that as one policeperson interviews the suspect, two others are watching the nonverbals. For instance, self-grooming or stalling to give answers (repeating the questions) are signs of deception. Bill explained how the eye direction of a right-handed person (v.s. left-handed) indicated truth or fiction. Interestingly enough, I learned that police are allowed to use trickery during the investigation. Sometimes the interrogator also uses sympathy, relating to the person and why they may have done such a crime.  Bill never felt good about doing this. In fact, it made him feel dirty. But if it got a confession by giving the suspect a way to save face (Bill: I can understand why you would ***. I feel like that all the time.”), it is a good interrogation technique.

The time with Bill passed in the blink of an eye. (Oh, no. Was I looking up and to the right, or down and to the left when I said that?) Will I ever use this information with my own writing? I don’t know. But now that I have it, watch out. I’ll be watching. Are you telling a truth or a lie? (Hee-hee-hee.)

Ebook Experiment

 Literature Blogs

I’ve taken the ePlunge.

I published three short stories into one book with Smashwords.com: BIKER FOLK TALES, BOOK I ( http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/46366 ), all for the whopping price of 99 cents! It’s also supposed to be on 7 other eReaders. Very cool.

This as an experiment at this stage — huge experiment — since ePublishing is a rather new business, and it’s completely new to me. I figure I’ll be tripping over my eToes for quite a while, learning, learning, learning.  A couple of weeks ago I uploaded the book, but then last night uploaded a revised edition to include the protect-the-author line in the beginning about the stories being works of fiction and the characters not based on real people. Wouldn’t want any biker gangs showing up on our front lawn because I unintentionally dis-ed one of their brothers.

A sample can be read for free. But if any of you actually make it through the ePurchase line… let me know your success story.

Writer’s Inspiration Boost

 Literature Blogs

I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking of how to connect two main characters in one of my novels (besides the obvious conflicts). I need (want) them to be interconnected, but I can’t brainstorm how they do. It’s been a struggle on my poor brain. I think about them, wander away, sometimes for a couple months, then come back to think some more. I keep wondering why it’s not working, or if I should just trash one character or perhaps the entire story. (It’s not really writer’s block. Although, I admit, I don’t know what that is besides an excuse.) However, the problem makes me wonder about various ways to boost inspiration and imagination and creativity.

1) Eat well, sleep well, get exercise, see your doctor. Being pain-free, and having blood moving swiftly through your body and into your little grey cells, can only help stimulate writing thoughts and get those creative juices flowing. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I take a LONG walk. This does three things for me: unfreezes my stiffened muscles from sitting hours in one position at my computer; distracts me with neighborhood happenings; and releases some built up story-making-adreneline to free my mind to think more clearly.

2) Get off of drugs which make your brain sluggish. (Talk with your doctor about this one.)

3) Get onto drugs, which make your brain a wilderness to explore. (A Federal Marshall I know who is a mystery writer solves his writer’s block or plot problems by “sitting down with Jack” (a bottle of Jack Daniels) until he comes up with a solution in his plot. Personally, I think this way would turn my mind to mush, so it’s not something I recommend; just something I know works for one crazed writer.)

4) Find writing support. Join a writing organization and participate. You can also find writing support by taking a class or by reading books on craft. Three of my favorite ones include ON WRITING, THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, and NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS: UNCOMMON WAYS TO REVISE. In the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of SCBWI bulletin, Kate Dopirak writes about forming her “writing team” in a classroom of middle school kids. A self-published author I know uses his “editors,” who are six beta readers, including librarians and teachers. There are unlimited writing support groups on-line (critique groups, forums, listservs, blogs, etc). It can be done live (critique groups, writing conferences, going to hear visiting authors, local write-ins, etc.). 5) Step back from the story. Maybe start another one. But then come back to your original story, knead out those bumps, and become an award-winning author.

What additional ways do you have to boost your writing?

Character Careers

 Literature Blogs

I was thinking about the various careers I’ve given characters through my stories, and how each of those careers make for something interesting to add to each story. It may be because I’ve held several different types of jobs myself, and oodles more if you count all the volunteer stuff I’ve done.

Years ago, when I received an email telling me I won a laptop (disclaimer — I’m not always that gullible), I was wading through their many pages of questions about me, when it started getting more and more personal. I thought to just quit, but decided instead to start making up things. After all, I AM a fiction writer. For my career, I wrote down “Hair Growth Specialist.” I have nothing for, nor against, these people. It’s just something I knew absolutely nothing about. I never did get that laptop (without having to buy a bunch of things), but even today, my spam will pick up emails about Hair Growth, and it cracks me up. I still know nothing about the job. So I’m thinking my next story will have to include either a hair growth specialist, or else a compulsive liar. Either one makes me smile.

So what out-of-the-ordinary jobs have you given your characters?

Poor Ole Secondary Characters

 Literature Blogs

As I was writing on my story this week, suddenly one of the secondary characters died.

Wait one minute! That wasn’t in the outline! Who was typing when that happened?

But then I thought to myself: total twist in the plot element. Cool. So I’m keeping him dead, poor guy. I just must take some think-time now to rework a few things, well, like the rest of the story, basically. Still, very cool.

Before this, I have intentionally gotten rid of characters, even main characters who didn’t serve any purpose except to give company to the main character. A parrot would have been more interesting. For me, taking out one of the major players was simply boring revision junk, to get rid of any sign the person existed.

Writing Challenge: Is each one of your characters essential to the plot? To the MC? Might a couple of them be combined, and still accomplish the same thing?

Poor ole secondary characters. Every last one of mine are now shaking in their paper boots.