Tense and POV
I don’t know how much you have or have not experimented with tense. I haven’t that much. At least, not until this year.
We all know what tense is. It’s the time that the story takes place in basically. So right now, I would say, “Abigail types a blog post.” Whereas if I’m talking about something that has already happened, I can say, “This afternoon, Abigail role played online intead of doing her homework.”
The other element that I’m going to define is POV–point of view. POV shows up typically in first or third person. Yes, I know, second person can be done, but I’ve never even attempted that so I’m not going with that. First person is when you tell about something that happened to you. Third person is when you look at something that happened to someone else. Example can be, “I type a blog post,” versus, “Elianna plays the piano.” Same tense, different POV.
So why I am even bringing this up? Because both of these should be considered when writing a story.
When I typically write, I write in third person past tense. That’s probably because that’s how a lot of my books have been written it, it’s familiar, and it’s easy. I can then foreshadow and other things. Most importantly, I can easily bounce between POV’s of characters. (Write something from Nessa’s and then write something from Avi’s.) If I was going to help someone write, I would (at least up until recently) recommended writing in third person past tense.
However… I began writing in first person POV. And that has changed some things.
The first story I wrote in first person POV is Watching from a Distance. (Which I actually began as a response to the massive number of Paranormal Romance I saw. Not sure if that theme carried over though.) Anyway, I started that in past tense because that’s just what people write in, right? I mean, why not?
Then I began thinking about it. Reve, the main character, would have a totally different reaction to this story if he knew the ending. If he was telling this story later on, he would tell it differently than I had written. So I had two choices: I had to figure out how he could tell this story later (which I didn’t do until later) or I had to change the whole tense.
I changed the tense.
And suddenly the story began flowing like he was telling it as it was happening. It worked and I think it worked out well. This began having me tell all of Reve’s stories (I have three different ones, not including two I have yet to write.) in this first person present tense.
But, so what, you say? After all, many people write in first person present tense now. (I should abbreviate that to FPNT. First person now tense. :D )
What made the difference is that I wrote a story in first person past tense. Why? Because I wrote it in the manner that the main character is telling you the story of how he killed his wife. (Intrigued now, no?) Eventually, you (the reader) also finds out that he is asking you to marry him. Eventually this’ll all be moved into my novel, but for now, I’m working it as a stand-alone.
I don’t know if I’ve ever written something like this before. I actually think it came out pretty awesomely.
The other thing I should mention is that first person allows the reader to get closer to the character. I’m having a hard time switching back into third person and still showing the emotions, because I’ve been writing so much in first person.
To summarize, when you start writing your next story, consider the POV and what you can do with the POV. It’s not just something vague that means whatever. It’s something that you can use to further the story you have to tell.
Changing POV changes everything sometimes.
I started playing with this new character. His name is Reve. Well, technically, it’s Reve sau Callingbordon but we’ll just call him Reve.
I’ve now written almost three stories with him as a character. He’s fun to write about. He’s very quiet, doesn’t get angry easily, and works hard. His race also has this mental ability for sense just emotions, but it varies and his rating is really high, yet he doesn’t care about it. His father is dead, his mother is blind from a work accident and he has four younger siblings.
I’d give you more history, except what I keep doing with him is writing short stories about him. It’s fun. It’s, like, how did he get his original job? Or, what happened with his first assignment? Those kind of things.
One day a couple weeks ago, I was walking across campus. It was the early morning time, when it’s cool and crisp and just beautiful. I began to think about how his character would respond to walking across campus like that and from there, developed a story.
The basic idea went along these lines:
- He sees a girl being mugged. Fights off the guy and kills him. (This is well within his personality.)
- Turns out that the way in which he killed him was totally illegal. He didn’t know.
- Meets his lawyer, who basically gives him no hope and is totally clueless.
- Meets a psychiatrist, who figures out how much he didn’t know.
- Gets free from everything.
Can you see the problem with that?
Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t. The problem is that Reve doesn’t do anything. For the majority of the story, he sits in prison. He can’t do any research, he won’t fight, and he’ll just do nothing.
I kept thinking about how I could change the story so that he does something but I couldn’t. He wouldn’t get mad at the decision of the court. and shout at them (or kill them). He wouldn’t try to escape. He would wait and see what happens. I basically wrote 5,000 words and didn’t know how to actually finish it in an interesting way. I was so stuck on this I almost wrote a blog post bemoaning my lack of inspiration in hopes it’d give me an idea.
I mentioned my problem in passing to my mom, partly because I drew an awesome pictures to go with it (that I was going to share but I can’t find my scanner) and it frustrated me I’d never get to use it.. She asked me what happens to the girl. What does the girl whose life he just saved do? And that started me thinking.
Now, I’d prefer to write it from Reve’s POV, because this will technically be a purple guard story. But Reve’s POV is boring. The girl, however, I can see her doing a lot. It’s a different POV, which makes it harder because I have to develop and understand a new character. Moreover, she won’t show up again that I can tell. Sure, they might develop some kind of friendship, but nothing lasting. Yet, by changing the POV, I can explore both a pivotal moment in Reve’s life, and the development of the mental ability that is found in these people.
It works. It makes it interesting. And, overall, I’m pretty excited about this development. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll be written for a couple weeks yet.
However, this reminds me just how important it is to pick a good POV.When people (okay, at least myself) started writing, I’d always go with the obvious POV. This story is about XYZ happening to Jane Doe, so obviously the POV is Jane’s.
However, the more I experiment with writing, the more become away that the POV isn’t something you can randomly assign. The story changes depending on what POV you use. And sometimes that means changing the story in the middle to get the right POV.
So, have you ever noticed a situation where changing the POV propelled your story to completion? Would changing a POV help right now?
I think I’ll always be learning how to write.
So, I’ve been working on the mermaid novel. There’s two things that make this a learning experiance for me.
1) My first novel I planned for a year before I wrote it. This one, I started planning for it about a year ago.
2) Multiple POVs.
I didn’t expect multiple POVs to make a difference. Boy, am I wrong!
The biggest one that it makes a difference in is AVi, because Avi doesn’t have a consistent appearance. I have about 45 chapters and of those, she only gets about seven. I need then to still be consistent but even when editing, I see her so inconstantly that I don’t get a good feel for her character.
Last night, I figured out the obvious solution. I edit them in order of character’s POV. As such, because I like Avi right now, I edit all of the Avi scenes. Then I move onto another character and another until I’m done.
I got this idea because while I was editing a scene involving Ronen intentionally ignoring her, I realized that when Ronen decides he’s going to actually show he likes her, he’s going to kiss her. This makes me really excited. Now, normally, I couldn’t do anything about that until I go from chapter 8 to chapter 25. Instead of having to wait that long, I now get to jump ahead and edit chapter 24 and 25 where that happens. Then I get to jump ahead to when Avi discovers that her real boyfriend betrayed her.
For once, the story doesn’t seem so completely overwhelming. And though I know that I used future scenes to motivate me to write current scenes, I have a new plan for the boring scenes. I ask myself a few questions.
This scene is boring.
1) Is this scene needed? Why? If no, delete and move on. If yes, go to question 2.
2) Would it be better to rewrite the scene how that I know the point or try to salvage what I wrote?
Typically, I find that if I’m finding a scene to be boring to edit, it’s either so badly written that I should just restart or, more likely, it isn’t even needed or can be combined with another scene. (I did that with Shad and the resulting scene was sweet!)
It’s funny, because even though I can skim the books in Barnes and Noble and say I know most of it, I can still discover things that I still need to learn. It’s partly what makes writing fun. Maybe that’s actually why I like it so much.
What POV is needed
Which do you prefer, POVs (point of views) of many characters, or POVs of just one character through the whole story?
seven ways to defeat writer’s block
Everyone always gets to a point when they are staring at the blank computer screen, the cursor laughing at them in its blinky way, and they do know what to write next. That is where brainstorming is one of the lifesavers for writers. As such, here are seven ways that may or may not help.
1. Interview the character. Just sit down and talk to him or her and try to pick their brain. Incredibly things come to light.
2. Draw a picture from the story. Now, I know that not everyone is an artist, but sometimes drawing a picture gives a new perspective and helps everything seem more clear. It might also give you unique ideas as to what to include.
3. Freewrite. I have never been a serious fan of freewriting but sometimes putting thoughts on paper can be enough to trigger an idea about where to go with the story. There have been times that it helped me more than anything else. And maybe it doesn’t have to be in paragraph format. I oftentimes write outlines in bullet format.
4. Look from the other characters’ perspectives. Especially when writing a singular POV piece, we get so caught up in the POV character that we forget to think about the motivations of everyone else. A story is really everyone’s motivations all happening at the same time and triggering problems.
5. Write it out on index cards. I’ve never actually done this, but I always imagine when there is a complicated thing the best thing to do is to write out my problems on index cards and play with them on a giant table. Since I can’t see the index cards too well, and because of the time, I never have.
6. Rewrite the whole scene. This seems daunting and frustrating, like going backwards, but sometimes the problem is a surrounding scene that didn’t quite click and sometimes, writers just have to throw it out and start again.
7. Set it aside for a few days. If all else fails, just let it rest. Sometimes the subconscious will work miracles for you. But remember: Come back.
giant’s wife, cont. 12/31
One interesting to now about this upcoming section is that, besides that there are two parts, is this actually proved to give me writer’s block for some time. I wrote the first, smaller section and then did not know where to go from there.
My probably ended up laying in the fact that I planned it from the wrong person’s POV (point of view). I planned to write the banquet from Jacey’s POV. However, Heddwyn’s proved to be much a much better choice. As soon as I realized that, and then determined to write the troublesome scene, my writer’s block was gone.
Jacey turned from the mirror and pinning her hair. Behind her, Heddwyn stood tugging absently on a sleeve, like it was uncomfortable and unfamiliar. No wonder he felt awkward at these events. Between his hair having just been trimmed and warring sleeves, he looked completely different, but remarkably handsome at the same time….