a real post later this morning. But I’ve been up most of the night with back spasms and am hurting too much right now to think clearly. So, until I get back, the floor is yours. You can suggest topics or discuss anything you’ve seen happening in the industry of late. Now I’m going to take another muscle relaxer and go back to bed.
The floor is now yours.
Anyone want to discuss viewpoint? I found this excellent discussion by Patricia Wrede – http://pcwrede.com/Page18.html
That is a good article. I’ve always written in a loose third-person, but the last four or five months I’ve been using tight third and it’s hard. The worst part, for me, is passing along information without it turning into 1) a series of conversations or 2)horribly long data dumps. It works for my current project, but I’m going back to the looser third-person when I return to my usual characters and setting.
A couple of thoughts.
First, I speak as someone who thought she was writing in tight third person. I had three different POV characters, and shared their thoughts, impressions and judgements in their respective scenes. I did not mix them up. A Createspace editor described my narrator as omniscient. Sigh. I had worked so hard to keep the boy from Alaska from observing any rhododendron or other plants whose names he would not know. And on like that.
That out of the way, I confess I get irritated with tight third person (which I persist in believing I’m doing). It seems as limited as being in first person. However, I’m baffled as to how to get from tight to loose. One idea I had was adding tags, like the occasional “he thought,” to make it sound like there was a narrator, not just this person who had taken over the story. Any one have actual devices?
Who writes in omniscient anymore? It’s not surprising that a Createspace editor might be confused. 😉
I generally use multiple viewpoint, close third person. I like to give the thoughts of the POV character at the time. The main problem is not straying into someone else’s head without a scene break to cue the reader, and clearly indicating the POV character right off at the start of every scene.
Aha! I disagree.
To me, the use of ‘he thought’ completely ruins the tight third person pov. If you have to say someone thought, you are NOT in that person’s head, looking out of his eyes.
I use a different convention, one that works for me. http://liebjabberings.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/rules-for-punctuating-consistently-a-writers-unique-style/
To summarize: direct thoughts are in italics, indirect in regular, dialogue is marked by double quotes, and remembered dialogue is in italics and with single quotes.
Whatever you pick, be consistent.
I find that ‘he thought’ or worse, ‘he thought to himself,’ just drag me right out of the character’s point of view. And even though ‘he said’ is supposed to be transparent to the reader, it works a lot better to set things up so the dialogue is interrupted by actions, however tiny, if it is necessary to indicate who is speaking.
“What’s this?” George picked up the ceramic ball. “A sixteenth-century bowling ball?”
“What’s this,” George asked, as he picked up the ceramic ball…
“What’s this?” George said, picking up the ceramic ball…
Stylistic choices – and it requires a lot more work as a writer, but otherwise the book is full of ‘said,’ ‘as’ constructions, or ‘…ing’ constructions.
I think that most people see (or don’t see, ha!) those sorts of tags as invisible. Thus a whole bunch of “he said” and “she said” disappear when read while getting too cute about alternatives draws attention to itself. I think this is probably true. Although the truth is that most readers aren’t writers and don’t notice *anything*. But writers do notice, and they particularly notice the things that they’ve decided to avoid at all costs.
For me it’s the construction “some kind of”… just ask my kids they’ve heard me rant. Either you know what kind it is or you don’t! “He carried some kind of knife in his boot and another on his belt… ” No! It’s like announcing that the author hasn’t got a clue. Now, it’s okay if the POV character doesn’t know. “He carried two knives. I don’t know what kind but they were both black instead of silver the way proper knives are…” or “He carried a black ka-bar blade in his boot and a hunting knife with a gutting hook in a sheath on his belt.”
So (ahem) we all have our “things”. 😉
Mine was “just.” Everything was just perfect or everyone was just nice enough. I read a short in a magazine, and the writer had my affliction. I went and removed them all.
Yeah, I do that too. And lapse into passive voice, especially if I’ve been copyediting a technical report for my husband.
A certain person wiped the passive voice from my databanks when I was in my twenties. I remember dreaming about active voice at the time. It was all good for me.
I “very” a lot. Or I used to, until my copy-editor pointed it out.
In my grammar class this spring I found out that “very” is called an intensifier and is an actual, identified, element of language. And every time it was used in class as an example I cringed.
No doubt it’s not wrong to use the word “very”. But I think that we are told not to use it because 1) people do so often, and 2) there is probably a better word available that already embodies the extra intensity. For example, instead of “very sad”, she was devastated or she was morose. (Or… she walked in a stupor for days and burst into tears at the most unlikely things.)
And I hope your back is getting better, Amanda. I hate it when I can’t do things!