Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Up and Down

Writing is full of ups and downs, and today has been one of those roller-coaster days. In the end, it all comes down to confidence. Confidence in our ideas, confidence in our words, confidence in our vision for the finished work - whether it's a poem, short story, article or novel. The thing I have to remind myself is that even if someone doesn't like something I've written as much as I do, at least it was there for them to read. If I hadn't written it at all, they wouldn't have been able to comment on it, now would they?

I feel torn between my two point-of-view characters, who are so very opposite and lend such different flavors to the narrative. I intended it as a strength for the novel, but I'm wondering if it's in fact a weakness: if it will confuse readers.

My instincts say "Just let the characters tell their story." So that's what I'm gonna do.

“You are a writer. Right now. With only what you have in your head as it is. You don't need anything else. You are a writer. You just need to keep writing. Don't let the Writing Fairy tell you that you aren't. That you need something more, that you're pretending to be something you're not. Hemmingway wasn't Hemmingway when he started. He was just a guy named Ernest who sat down at his typewriter.”
~ Joseph Devon


  1. Hi Christine. I certainly understand roller-coaster days. I've had my share. But when I go to bed at night knowing I've written something that I like, it's a pretty good feeling. And you're right, writing is an act of creation. When we write, we are creating something out of nothing. And we can share that something, that unique piece of us, with others. I think that's kinda cool.

    I don't think having multiple POVs in a novel is confusing, especially in fantasy stories. I just finished up a trilogy that had something like 4-5 perspectives and at no point did I feel confused. It gave the overall story an epic feel.

    I think you have the right idea though: let your characters tell the story. If they have strong personalities and you can get into their heads, I imagine they'll take you to places you never dreamed of.

  2. Thanks, Chris. My main concern is that the guy parts sound like an action movie and the guys like them. The parts from the heroine's POV read a bit like a romance novel. So far, guys have been turned off by that. Just as women are a bit turned off by the blood and guts in the first scene.

    I'm afraid of losing my audience, before they see where the story is going.

  3. I mean, the reason that the heroine's scenes read like a romance is that that is how she is feeling at that point in her life - a young woman who is in love and doesn't have any life-or-death issues to distract her. Yet. Heh heh.

  4. It's hard to please everyone. Personally I love a good romance as much as I love action. My favorite fantasy novels have always contained both. I think as long as each character is interesting, authentic, and changes as the story progresses, people will keep reading regardless of whether they are reading an action scene or a love story.

    Does your story begin with action? (I'm assuming that it does if the chapter with Faldur is your first) How quickly do you introduce the woman's POV?

    It's kinda funny that you should mention this issue--the novel on which I am working also has two distinct POVs: one from a man's perspective and the other from a woman's.

  5. Some of my comment for this post was sent to the "Good Links for Fiction Writers" submission. I get a little confused when I'm catching up on my blog readings.

    Maybe a fix for your "burning the candle at both ends" problem is to read a bit more mainstream fiction that has romance in the story-line. Copy-cat for a bit until you find your own voice in your novel.

    I've found sometimes putting my own characters in a similar scene helps me get a feel for the tone and voice. It's actually fun, pretending my characters are in a best selling novel. Lets me experiment - I never do it within the confines of my WIP; always as a disposable document - and makes me feel like the break from productive writing wasn't a waste of time.

    I'm not a fan of multiple POV's in a novel - or at least, not the omniscient type. But done well, seeing through different character's POV can strengthen the story. Sometimes it's totally necessary to shif POV to get the full impact of a scene or chapter. As long as you're not head jumping - mixing POV's in the same scene/dialogue/paragraph, it can be a great benifit for the reader.

    1st person and 3rd person limited can be extremely - limiting. For the author and the reader. As long as you (the author) knows whose head you're in at any given moment, I'm sure you'll be able to convey that to the readers.

    I've seen some exerpts from your novel, and I think you're informed enough on writing technique that the fear of falling prey to common beginners mistakes holds more sway over your internal critic than the actual practice. You seem to have a good support system for your writing; and your own advice seems sound: "Just let the characters tell their story."


  6. Chris, Faldur's scene *is* the first one, and then Chapter Two is told largely from her POV. It's on the Gryphon Blog now. I think you may have commented there already.

    Then it switches back and forth pretty regularly from there, about every other scene, until they split up and pursue separate story lines for a while, and finally come back together.

    Thank you, Donna, for the compliments. *blushing*

  7. just keep going and move forward. (now, to take my own advice.) love that quote. do i have that quote? not sure anymore, i've collected so many. hope you have more ups than downs on your roller coaster ride (and that the whole journey doesn't make you nauseous).

  8. Yes, Michelle, it's from your collected quotes on your blog. ;o)

  9. My WIP also has two main POV characters, Annay and Hector. When they are in the same scene Annay is always the POV character. There are some scenes in which neither character is present, in which case someone else gets to pick up the POV.

    The way I'm writing the story it is presented as a historical novel, where most of what happens in the story is based on journals that the author has found. For Annay in particular the author has included some of her journal entries in the book.

    It has been challenging at times. I find myself wanting to say what the non-POV character is thinking, and have to rethink how I'm going to show it rather than tell it.

    As far as two main POV characters, I think what makes it work for my WIP is that they are both struggling, but they struggle in different ways. It is this contrasting that makes the two POV interesting and at the same time ties them together.


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