“One book that I frequently recommend for writers is Orson Scott Card’s Characters and Viewpoint. I do it for a number of reasons. First, Scott looks at such issues as whether to write a novel in first person, second, or third; he also look at past, present, and future tense, and comes to the conclusion that it is virtually almost always best to write in third-person, past tense. Now, that is pretty much the standard for all writers, but Scott makes some very insightful comments on why it is best, which will undoubtedly confound new writers who are tempted to write in first person present tense…”
Chances are good you’re using a third-person POV (or Point of View) in your story right now. If not, then you likely used it in the past or will give it a try in the future. It’s a nearly universal writing technique and the most popular of all the POV choices. But are you using it correctly?
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive that tie in with our exploration on scene structure. I want to touch on a few insights regarding Establishing Shots and how they come into play in writing twenty-first-century fiction.
“ Unreliable narrators have been admired by readers and writer alike since Holden Caulfield set the gold standard—and they’re more popular than ever in today’s bestsellers. Here are 8 reliable ways to make your characters just unreliable enough to keep readers guessing.”
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.writersdigest.com
When we make POV errors? It shatters the fictive dream. That is why getting really good at POV is vital. We must maintain the magic. Here’s the secret that a lot of writers don’t realize about POV.
By Toni Kennedy
Most people have little experience writing in the first person about themselves. Of course in order to be successful, you have to have the goods: you must have published the types of things you’re supposed to have published. If you don’t have the right stuff it won’t matter how well you present yourself on the page. On the other hand talented and qualified people often fail to make a strong case for themselves because they are too modest.
Part of doing well on any writing assignment has to do with understanding what’s required and then practicing. You might have to write a cover letter to a publisher, or a personal statement that describes you and your work. The task may seem simple, but there are so many ways it can go wrong.
The main problem is, of course, the usual – the gap between what we think we’re saying and what our readers take away from the page. Great essayists know when they write “I” they are creating a persona, one that is appropriate for the particular piece they’re composing. They know that if they sound too blustery, we will roll our eyes. If they don’t show us any faults, we will search harder to find them. If they’re pornographically confessional, we’ll be overcome by the “yuck” factor and turn away. It’s a hard and risky business to write “I.”
What one reader loves another finds insufferable and narcissistic. I once read a memoir which I loved and I bought another copy to give to a friend who struggled with many of the same issues the author wrote about. I was sure my friend would find the book enjoyable and helpful – sure that, like me, she would appreciate the prose and want to be friends with the author. But she hated the book – and its author – with a vehemence that shocked and surprised me.
First person writers may have tight control over their prose and over the ideas they’re trying to express. They may know how to turn themselves into three-dimensional, self-implicating characters. But still the reactions to them are varied – and often vicious. But because they write for publication and have made a conscious choice to open up about themselves and their lives, there are always people who are going to hate them.
Those who are forced by circumstance into writing “I” often end up in worse shape. They may think that they have to brag about all of their accomplishments, and they usually do it in ways that don’t endear them to the reader.
So how do you become competent at first-person writing?
Think about the writers you’d most like to meet. What do they do in their prose that you can ape? How can you sound like the best, most competent, and appealing version of yourself? How do you know what works and what falls flat?
For this particular and peculiar writing task you really need good readers – ones who will tell you if your work isn’t clear, or if you’re coming off like a smug idiot. You need readers who care enough about you to tell you the truth, even if it’s hard to hear.
It’s hard and scary to reveal yourself on the page. You tend to hear people’s critique as “I don’t like you,” when what they are really saying is “I don’t like the approach.” But the biggest mistake is underestimating how difficult it can be to write “I” and not taking enough time and trouble to do it well.
I wish I’d written this! I agreed with everything the author wrote about different POVs.