Writing Basics

Stop the head-hopping: Picking the right POV for your story

The cover of the children's book, "Eulalie and the Hopping Head."
For some reason, the topic of head-hopping always makes me think of this book!

How do you know what point of view is right for your story? Honestly, the degree of intimacy your story requires is completely up to you. It comes down to artistic choice. Whatever POV you choose, the important thing is to keep it consistent to avoid confusing your readers.

Head-hopping is one of the many distractive elements of writing that can remind your reader that she is reading, thus pulling her out of the story. To avoid head-hopping, if you need to switch POVs, you should include some sort of visual indicator to tip readers off to the fact that a POV switch is about to take place. This could be as simple as providing a new header that includes the name of the POV character to let the reader know a POV switch is coming. Continue reading “Stop the head-hopping: Picking the right POV for your story”

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Writing Basics

Point of view basics: Third person and omniscient POV in fiction

the front cover of Valley of the Bees
My first novel, Valley of the Bees, is written in third person point of view. The entire story is filtered closely through the perspective of the protagonist, Valley Bickerstaff.

So, we’ve discussed first and second person points of view in this series. Today, let’s talk third person and omniscient. In third person POV, a narrator tells a story about characters who are outside himself. From a logistical perspective, both the third person narrator and the omniscient narrator tell the story using, “he,” “she,” and “they.” The difference between these two POVs lies fully in the amount of narrative distance created by the writer.

Third person point of view can be as intimate or distant as you like. You can make it intimate – like first person – by picking one main character and filtering the entire story through his or her POV, using language that character would use and only showing what that character knows. Continue reading “Point of view basics: Third person and omniscient POV in fiction”

Writing Basics

Point of view basics: Second person POV in fiction

me pointing at a rug on my wall
You: You are but a tapestry on the wall. But, what have you seen? What stories can you tell?

Yesterday we discussed first person point of view. Today, let’s focus on second person. This will be a short conversation as second person POV is not used much in fiction or creative non-fiction. When you do see it, it mostly occurs with characters like Deadpool who are known to occasionally break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience.

In second person point of view, the narrator speaks to “you,” whether “you” be the reader or another character or even the protagonist. I have only seen this once in recent memory, in N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award-winning Broken Earth series. Continue reading “Point of view basics: Second person POV in fiction”

Writing Basics

Point of view basics: First person POV in fiction

I’m teaching a creative writing workshop this semester at my local community college, and I just had an epiphany as I was writing notes for our next class. I thought, “Hey, dummy! As long as you’re typing all of this writing stuff up, maybe you could use the content for a series of blog posts!” Of course, I’m a huge fan of re-purposing content, so I replied, “Okay, cool. Let’s do this.” So today, here’s blog post #1 of a series I have written to provide a brief overview of the basics of Point of View (POV) in fiction writing.

According to Self-editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, there are as many as 26 flavors of point of view. For the purpose of this series, we will focus on four basics: first, second, third, and omniscient. Today, let’s start with first person POV. Continue reading “Point of view basics: First person POV in fiction”

Essays, Illinois

Don’t tell me how to feel about the weather

I deeply resent being told how to feel about the weather. The weather man tries to tell me how lovely it will be with the sun shining all day, but all I want is fog and rain. The earth is so dry, and so are my patio planters.

I borrowed this photo from Google images to use as my desktop because this is what beautiful weather looks like to me. But now, I can’t remember where I got it, and I’d really like to credit the photographer. I’m quite certain I got it on a royalty free site (because I always go royalty free.) Anyway, before I write a photo caption that’s longer than my blog post, I just want to say that if this photo belongs to you, please get in touch with me so I can link to your website!

Ninety+ degrees. I’ll complain about the heat if I like. Don’t tell me I can’t just because it will be cold soon. I’ll take twenties over nineties any day. I’m chunky, okay? Hot weather isn’t fun when your body parts stick together, and you no longer wear shorts because you’re just not comfortable showing quite that much skin. Continue reading “Don’t tell me how to feel about the weather”

Publishing

Always learning something new on #Smashwords

With every new eBook project, it seems like I stumble across a new Smashwords formatting snafu that I hadn’t ever before encountered, or even considered. My recent upload of my newest book, F-ing Freddy Fisher, was no exception. It usually doesn’t take me long to figure out what I’m up against, but this time, when I received an email telling me that my manuscript had been rejected due to the lack of an NCX file, I was stumped.

Like any true worrier, my head immediately whirled with panicked questions. What the heck was an NCX file? Was this something new? Was I going to have to give up on Smashwords for good because they had finally managed to make it too difficult for me to figure something out?

Like any true procrastinator, I then put off thinking about it until I had an entire free afternoon to focus on nothing but this problem. Luckily, it turned out all the panic was for naught. Continue reading “Always learning something new on #Smashwords”

F-ing Freddy Fisher, Novel Writing

Coming Soon: F-ing Freddy Fisher

F-IngFreddyFisher-EBOOKYesterday, I glanced at my blog and realized, “I haven’t blogged since May—MAY!” Wow, have I been busy! I guess it’s a good thing though, because I have been busy writing other things. In fact, I am very close to publishing my latest project, a short YA novel titled, F-ing Freddy Fisher.

It’s kinda funny how Freddy came about. I started writing his story in 2013, but then I got distracted and moved on to something else. This spring and early summer, I started another project, which was going great. But then one day, I realized I was at 78,000 words and was hating where my story was going. I needed to take a break and do something else for a bit to let that story simmer.

So, I went through my folder of abandoned projects, and Farley (the name change to Freddy would came later) caught my eye. I opened the Word file, looked it over, and thought, “Huh. This story is almost complete.” So, I went for it. Continue reading “Coming Soon: F-ing Freddy Fisher”

Writing Prompts

Creepin’ Cockroaches!

Who’s in the mood for a writing prompt today? Let’s make it 1,000 words of flash fiction. Better yet, if you are writing a novel, set your story in your novel’s story world. And…. GO:

This one happens to be based on a true story. Blech!

Share your 1,000 words of flash fiction based on this writing prompt in the comments below, or share it on your own blog or website and post a link below! Continue reading “Creepin’ Cockroaches!”

Writers on Writing

How to write a hook that offers the promise your #novel will fulfill

English: The main screen of Albite READER 2
Do the first lines of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland work for you? | English: The main screen of Albite READER 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author Dave King shared an interesting article yesterday on Writer Unboxed titled, Beyond the First Five Pages. In his post, he discusses the importance of writing a good hook that both draws the reader in and leads the reader properly into the rest of the story.

I’m only working on my second novel now (not counting the 872 false starts that I wrote before finally finishing something!), so I’m no expert. However, in my most-humble opinion, I think it is best to worry about your hook after the rest of the story has been written. Continue reading “How to write a hook that offers the promise your #novel will fulfill”

Valley of the Bees

The Kirkus Review of Valley of the Bees is in!

Great news! The Kirkus Review for Valley of the Bees is in, and it is pretty good!

Read the full review!

Here are a few high points of the review:

Webster has written a richly detailed work whose world feels legitimate and lived-in, letting readers gradually, seamlessly experience it, rather than overwhelming them with exposition. Meanwhile, Valley is an empathetic, compassionate protagonist who feels three-dimensional from start to finish. Her caring for the bees establishes an instant connection with the reader. The complications of her friendship with another teenager, Reyna, who has fallen in love with her, as well as the intricate bonds that tie her to her family make for an engrossing drama. Furthermore, her relationship with her grandmother, as well as the unfolding of a number of buried family secrets that cause her to question a great deal of what she thought she knew, provides a brilliant through line.

Continue reading “The Kirkus Review of Valley of the Bees is in!”