Posts Tagged writing tips
I thought I would go back to the basics this week with a brief on the various types of narrators and POVs fiction writers employ. I have gotten my reading mojo back thanks to The Ex-Wife’s Survival Guide by Debby Holt (you can read my review here) and have been indulging heavily in my TBRs since. Needless to say, I have written very little in the meantime but it’s okay for once since I just published a book, yay. But the point is, I was reading a novel over the weekend and it made me reflect on how even established and traditionally-published authors sometimes get their POVs all mixed up. I pondered maybe it’s because once we become “mainstream”, we stop revising the guidebooks on creative writing, maybe we become complacent.
For me, keeping my POV on the straight and narrow is fundamental. Your story is the product of your imagination but that does not mean it does not deserve your full attention in selecting the right devices and techniques to make the storytelling impactful. And jumping POV-to-POV, and selecting different narrative styles in one book is a rookie mistake that should have been corrected during the editing process. So I hit the academic texts and Googled and brushed up on the subject because part of choosing the right narrative style and POV for your story is knowing all the options out there. I thought I’d share my notes with fellow writers here just in case there were others also needing to pace themselves.
Narrator – According to my ‘A’ Level textbook Literature, Criticism, and Style by Steven Croft and Helen Cross (Oxford), the narrative is “a piece of writing that tells a story”. So by means, the narrator is the person, animal, or object that is telling the story. This storyteller is inserted into the text most often as an imaginary entity separate from the author whether or not he/she is a character living within the story. In essence, it is the voice that describes what is happening.
Point of View (POV) – The POV is the perspective from which the narrator tells the story. Whether the narration is conducted from a singular POV or multiple, I have always felt that the POV breaks down and identifies the various components of the storyteller’s voice, i.e. the personality, style, tone of the narrator. It demonstrates to us the level of involvement with which the narrator relates the tale, how far into the story the narrator is willing to insert themselves.
While the narration and the POV are closely related and often overlap, the distinction is that the former is the device with which the plot is moved forward, the characters are revealed, the setting is built, etc., while the latter allows the reader to experience the story from the angle(s) that makes these various illustrated components relevant and relatable.
The most common forms of narrators are the first person, second person, third person limited, and third person omniscient. However, academicians have further broken down the types of narrators to include the [detached] observer or third person objective, commentator, and unreliable narrator. The following is a description of each of these major types of narrators with an example of popular works where they were successfully employed: Read the rest of this entry »
When I left my career to pursue writing fictions, I knew the day will come when I start freelancing. After all, unless you become an instant best-selling author, you must find some other means to pay the bills. And regardless of how sternly you saved your income to one day pursue your lifelong dream of becoming a novelist, the fund will deplete sooner or later if you do not keep replenishing it.
As news got out that I had truly left my last workplace for self-employment, I was approached by more than a handful organizations to take over their marketing departments. I took to thanking them and the Almighty for the appreciation and vote of confidence but, of course, declined. It is difficult for people to fathom that given the workaholic I demonstrated myself to be for over a decade, I could trade in the euphoria of corporate stress for the more relaxed self-paced lifestyle of a struggling novelist. If you noticed the irony in that statement or are pursuing to become published, you would understand that writing a novel is no idle profession.
After volleying offers for six months, people are finally coming around to accepting that I’m not looking to peddle myself as a corporate monkey. So now the work offers have started to arrive in the form of developing contents for brochures, websites and the like on the basis of independent contracts. Very good. It sounds much more maintainable. I will not be obligated to maintain any fixed hours and can accept or reject work as per time suitable to my novel writing needs. In fact, I feel writing other materials will be a good way to de-stress from constantly working on my book. Novel writing as a career with freelance writing as a hobby sounds the right deal.
But now the problem is I have to state my price. I have to figure out what my talent is worth on the basis of the value I add to my clients’ projects. I have never been very good at asking for money. Sure, in the corporate arena, I know the structure in each industry for each position, so salary negotiation is a fair affair between each party. But I now realize that pricing strategy for a freelancer is a totally different ballgame. When discussing the work that needs to be done, I feel the excitement but the moment the topic of discussing the price of my work, I lose my place in the discussion.It is just so embarrassing. Especially, because the queries I have been receiving are mostly from people I have built a close bond with during my career. And frankly, I think most creative people seek appreciation more than money. Hell, I have done plenty of complimentary work in my life just because someone appreciated my talent.
It is just so embarrassing. Especially, because the queries I have been receiving are mostly from people I have built a close bond with during my career. And frankly, I think most creative people seek appreciation more than money. Hell, I have done plenty of complimentary work in my life just because someone appreciated my talent.
Upon discussing the problem with a few friends, I finally have realized what I must do. I must research freelance work rates in the market and draw up a table of standards for myself. Then if someone approaches me with work, just send them this rate chart. Like RFP-ing agencies. It’s just a matter of a little-bold application, that’s all.
I recently came to learn that most of my fellow writers pick characters off real life. They sit around in coffee shops and roadside bistros, watching their neighbors and making up stories about them. This practice is, apparently, more common than when you watch TV on mute and try to feed dialogues to the people on the screen. Mind blowing, right? I always wondered how writers felt so comfortable tapping away at the keyboard in coffee shops. Turns out, they are really just describing their surroundings. Not a bad writing tip, I thought. Should speed up the process of character creation some.
My characters come completely out of my head – just as my stories come to me when a real life situation strikes me as though it didn’t pan out the way they should have. So I try to “fix” things, albeit in fiction, where my muddled heroes and heroines stumble around until they learn “the right way” of living. I’m a big fan of justice, and when justice is not to be found in the real world, I make up worlds of my own. I’m really a very balanced person.
The problem is if my characters come right out of my head, how do I allow them to become independent of who I am? When I already know the way I want my characters to behave at the end (to serve the moral I wish to convey), how do I let their journey become independent of mine? Also, it would be a terrible bore if every character turned out to be an extension of me. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a loaded word. I always felt that nuances exist on the precipice of stereotypes. You take the expectations cultural dogmas have conditioned in you and add a little something-something. Voila! You have nuanced characters for your stories. Personally, I use the following template to guide me when creating my characters. This should help a few writers.