Tag Archives: point of view

Have you found your writing flow?

In last Sunday’s post, I mentioned how my first drafts are heavy on the action and dialogue and include minimal setting details. I didn’t figure this out overnight. In fact, I didn’t even figure it out myself. My critique partners mentioned it when they asked why I didn’t write screenplays. Both of them were very aware that I saw my stories in a cinematic fashion and I do; I see everything as if I’m watching a movie. They told me that I should stick with my strengths and let a set designer and costumer do the rest of the work.

The fact is that screenwriting is a difficult industry to get into. I certainly don’t have the connections to make it happen, not without more work than I want to put in. I’d rather do a couple more subsequent drafts of adding the detail.

Here’s a colorful tip for getting a visual on your strengths:

Take some highlighters, none that will cover up your text or make it difficult to see what you’ve written and start going through your manuscript. Color dialogue in yellow (or the color of your choosing), setting and other detail words in blue, thoughts, internalization, or point of view indicators in pink, and everything that is left will be narrative.

Let’s have an example (since I can’t highlight, I will change the font color):

Caitlyn looked out the window at the darkening sky while she parted the heavy, velvet drapes with her hands. With the sun fading behind the clouds, she could dare to open up her world some. She reached down to put on her sunglasses, which hung from a chain around her neck. Her grandmother had always kept a pair of reading glasses on this chain, but Caitlyn didn’t need cheaters like that. Dark lens were another thing.

“Ow!” complained Lucky behind her as she drew the curtain across the rod. She glanced back at him, sitting at the mahogany table with his usual pile of papers before him. He capped his hand over his eyes, shielding them from the light of the overcast day. “Did you have to go and do that?”

“If it doesn’t hurt my eyes, it shouldn’t hurt yours,” Caitlyn responded as she opened the other curtain. If only for a moment, she enjoyed feeling human again.

So I have narrative in blue, dialogue in pink, details in reddish-brown, and thoughts/internalization in green.

Now, this isn’t an exact science. Sometimes things could fall into two categories — for example, I thought “chain around her neck” could be a detail or just part of the narrative. I gave myself the benefit of the detail here.

I did write this with the intent of it being a fairly balanced piece. If you have done this exercise for several pages of your manuscript, you should find that narrative is the most common, followed by details, then dialogue, then thoughts/internalization. You’ll see here that the blue (narrative) is the most used, followed by details (6 instances), then dialogue (3 instances), and thoughts (2 instances). If you have a scene which is heavy on the dialogue, make sure you don’t have a “talking heads” scene where the participants are just talking back and forth with no action or setting details. If you are still having narrative and details, but there’s a lot of dialogue, make sure it is balanced and flowing just so it’s not all speech; break the rhythm every now and then. Again, it’s not an exact science, just an experiment to show you how you work. Once you know your own writing flow, you know what you need to work on in the next draft.

Happy writing!

Dragons of Wellsdeep – Pages 4 & 5 edit

Bonus!

I don’t know about you, but this pace is agonizingly slow for me. So, I’m going to try posting two pages a week from here on out. I’m also trying to go back and rewrite some of the early pages so we can really get into the meat of editing since the beginning is so important to get readers into your story. I still have some work to do on this — second drafts are a bit harder; it’s like re-dreaming your dream. But I hope to have those pages ready to go in a couple of weeks and I’m thinking I might post those on Tuesdays.

If you enjoy this blog and want more, please help support it by visiting my page at Patreon. You can also find other ways to support by going to the Support this Blog page. Thank you!

Let me know if you like the new format of two pages for the Sunday post.

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg4_Dawn BlairDragons of Wellsdeep_pg5_Dawn Blair


Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg4_edited_Dawn BlairDragons of Wellsdeep_pg5_edited_Dawn Blair

The drafts on top is the original draft as it has been written. On the bottom is my edit drafts with my handwritten comments.

You’ll notice that near the top of page 4, there is a gap in the text. This is my preferred way to indicate a change in point of view. It just gives a clean break for readers to visual pull from the story before jumping back in. There are other ways to change point of view within text without a break, but I personally don’t use them often. Of course, I do often chose to only have one point of view per book. Yes, one! One character’s point of view for a whole book. It’s practically unheard of these days unless the author is writing in first person, but often there are still other chapters written in someone else’s point of view. I didn’t come to my choice easily and it took me several years just to understand point of view in writing. Dragons of Wellsdeep might be my first story in some time that will include extra points of view, but it’ll only be in these beginning pages; I see the rest of the story in Moonhunter’s point of view. There was a moment in The Three Books when I was tempted to switch to an omnipotent point of view. It’s the moment when Martias takes one of the books. It’s outside of Steigan’s point of view; he doesn’t see Martias steal the journal. He learns later that Martias took it, but never when. I have the spot marked in my text for when I finally get around to drawing the graphic novel version. And, it is because I do plan on doing a graphic novel version of the book that made me really want to be in Steigan’s head for the novel. There’s a lot of his thoughts that a reader won’t know about if they only read the graphic novel version, but they’ll get the little things like Martias being a thief. One story, different camera angles.

You’ll notice that I made a change from “Dragon-Birthed” to “dragonborn.” I got to a point where I needed to change the tense of “birthed” to born and after that it just kind of stuck — it was a much better tense. So, this is me cleaning that up.

Again, throughout the draft, the text needs to be slowed down and described better. I should probably just stop mentioning this! :) It’s my natural tendency to write dialog and action, so I know I need to fill in the blanks — the “white room” as I call it. Really, think about where they are at. Do you see anything? Are the walls around them white? They are to me. I’ve called it a cave, but I have no real visual. As an author, you really need to freeze your characters so you can pop your own head up and have a look around to see if you are describing the surroundings. That I did this in the manuscripts is what makes Manifest the Magic and To Birth a Destiny much better books in my opinion than The Three Books; I remembered to look around and describe more. Of course, things were so normal to my character — he was use to seeing all this — that really he didn’t notice these things, so in some ways it worked for his character too. I sit on the fence and wonder if I was really showing the character of Steigan or if I was just being a lazy author in The Three Books. Maybe a bit of both. Either way, I do feel it’s written the way it was meant to be so I guess the point is moot.

I have a couple points where I’m telling the story rather than showing. One spot I’ve marked to put into dialog. I feel it will work better that way. The other, the earlier point, I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, but I do have the mention of the weight going through his legs. If I’m firmly in his point of view by this point, I think it’ll work.

At the end, you’ll notice the asterisk and my note about fingernails. I suspect I know the point at which I’ll put in the fingernails even though I haven’t actually put it in the text yet and I hope to remember to mark it when I get there. Because I’m afraid of losing that is why I’ve put the note in here. Always make yourself lots of notes. It’s so easy to forget. Write it down before the idea gets lost.

Oh, and I am so tired of the phantom priest and priestess wailing! Aren’t you? They keep fading in and out and when they are on scene they are wailing. I so need to figure these characters (or actually the purpose of the priests and priestess out — which I’m getting closer to doing at the point where I’m currently writing). World creation — it’s so much fun, but very time consuming. Don’t worry. I will discuss world creation in another blog at some point. I will say that writers who say, “It’s like earth, but not earth,” have not worked it hard enough. Don’t be lazy. There is no world out there that will be “like earth.” It’s impossible. That planet has not had the people or the wars that have shaped our world. That planet will not have an orbit like earth’s with 365 1/4 days in a year and with 24 hours in a day. Constellations will be different. Did their early peoples understand or even seek to understand the basic science of their planet? They didn’t on Steigan’s world — they were too busy surviving. What was important to them were the three moons that rose over in their night sky and provided them with light to see the demon monsters coming after them. When the three moons rose at once, that was an event. One that they worshiped as the Tri-Lunar Ceremony and they did calculate out when this was going to happen. It was part of their survival. But calculating the stars, especially in a night sky ruled by three moons, wasn’t specifically important to them. Of course, the continent on the planet has a mild climate, so seasonal needs weren’t that important. On other continents of this planet, that might be a bit different (haven’t gotten to write/rewrite those stories too deeply yet). Anyway, like I said, “like earth” is a cheat so don’t use it.

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Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.

Dragons of Wellsdeep – Page 3 edit

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg3_Dawn Blair


Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg3_edited_Dawn Blair

 

The draft on top is the original draft as it has been written. On the bottom is my edit draft with my handwritten comments.

This page is is another one that needs a lot more description as well as to be locked in a point of view. We’ve lost the priest and priestess on this page too. There needs to be more of a struggle from the dragon here as well. These are the last moments of her life and she’s got to perform the magic. In writing as far as I have now, I know exactly what the dragons mean to the character I want to carry the point of view during this scene, so when I rewrite I’ll be adding much more angst to him. One thing I did mark in this that I still need to puzzle out is how my character feels about getting this new dragonborn to train. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting this, but I don’t know why he’s here. There’s some of his backstory I need to fill in. Working on a developing plot is much like figuring out a puzzle. Or rather it’s like working on several puzzles where the pieces have been all mixed together and there might be some missing. A lot of times I get an idea or an image in my mind of what I want to happen, but it’s not right for the story and I have to throw it out — it can easily be a piece to another story. Other times, I have to massage a piece until it fits just right (okay, so that doesn’t exactly work with the puzzle analogy, but since this is a puzzle in your mind anyway and not a real puzzle, shaving off a few corners to round the piece out or gluing shavings back on works).

I mention magic here. Yes, I want this to be more magical. I love writing magic. I will tell you now that I see this world connecting with the world in my Sacred Knight series. It is two separate stories and my characters will never meet, but I know that both are earth-based universes. The more I write and plot out books, the more I see how they all connect. Yes, even The Loki Adventures connects to the Sacred Knight universe — the first connect was in For A Good Time, Call Loki (the third novella of the five part kickoff series) and I have another story line planned out in which Loki will meet Freygorio — that one’s going to be a little different to write! So why do authors start to round books into the same worlds like this? It’s because we have characters we love and themes we enjoy writing about. For me, my themes are about noble hearts and fantastic places, good triumphing over evil, and fortune favoring the brave. Courage, magic, and ancient history fascinate me, but I’m more interested in twisting reality than recording things as they actually happen(ed). It’s why I could never be a journalist or an archaeologist, both careers which I explored before I realized that I was more into fantasy than non-fiction. So, I work on the mind puzzles I’m given and solve these plots with the intent of giving a good story to my readers.

So, I must work harder as you can see from my edits on the last few pages. The story must go deeper. At this stage, that’s a good thing. Onward!

Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.

Dragons of Wellsdeep – Page 2 edit

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg2_Dawn Blair Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg2_edited_Dawn Blair

The draft on top is the original draft as it has been written. On the bottom is my edit draft with my handwritten comments.

One thing I want you to notice here is the questions: is this how long it will take to defeat them or how long they have to solve the situation? How is the dragon taking this? Is he moving? All those questions are designed to make me think, to push the story harder. I know that when I write down the questions, I’m letting the question into my brain to roll around. I don’t feel pressured to have an answer now. It’s merely a box I’m throwing into the room of my mind and closing the door on. When I come back later for the box, I trust that a lot of things will come out of it. I’ll then have to sort through the good, the bad, and the ugly. (grin!) You’ll be noticing a lot more of these questions in the pages to come.

Again, the page needs more details to help slow down the pace. I’ve become very aware of this as a natural tendency I have in my writing. I jump right into the story, so I’ve very conscious of it when I’m editing that I’m probably moving my story too fast. I see this in a lot of other manuscripts as well. But in writing the draft, I allow myself to write the dialog and action as it’s coming, knowing that I’ll have to slow the pace down later. Again, in writing the manuscript, it’s more important that I get the story out rather than it being perfect. You’ll see my comments of “slower,” “more,” “details,” in the pages coming.

Now, I did say that I would touch on point of view when I got to this page. Look at the 3rd paragraph where I have the comment, “This would be so much better in his pov.” We’re moving into action and there’s a lot of people moving around, namely the priest and this other man. It’s getting confusing as to who exactly is doing the action and how the response is coming. The priest and priestess are protecting the dragon from this man, but why? What’s going on in the man’s head? What’s he planning on doing and why? Do you see how much deeper we can go into the story just from these questions?

Okay, so if we stayed in the omnipotent point of view, we could go into all the character’s heads, but the reader will quickly get overwhelmed. Let me illustrate:

The priestess jumped to her feet and blocked the man entering the cave. She couldn’t let him near the dragon. She knew he would do whatever it took to insure the safety of the dragonborn, even if it meant harming the dragon. It went against her oaths as a priestess. “You can’t. She’s a Ch’bauldi and you are charged with protecting her.”

The priest moved up behind the priestess, standing as second ready to defend her if this gruff looking man dared to battle a woman. He didn’t want to do it, didn’t figure the man would strike a woman, but these days one could never be too certain. He just wasn’t sure that he wanted to stand against this dragonborn either. He had no weapon in which to defend himself, or the priestess if it came to blows.

The man looked them over, grimacing as he gave a little shake of his head. Who did they think they were to stand between him and the dragon mother? They could offer her no protection which her own tail, which she could easily swat him with if she really didn’t want him getting close, not to mention her claws and teeth. A dragon or a dragon weapon were the only things that could hurt him and the priest and priestess knew this. He was indestructible compared to them. “You have 30 seconds to help the dragon and her dragonborn or I will take care of the situation.”

Neither the priest or priestess moved, both frozen in fear. The man assessed them again. They carried no weapons. How would they be able to help? They all knew the priest and priestess couldn’t do a damn thing. It would have to be his knife to do the job.

So that might be a little extreme, but we’ve all seen passages just like that in today’s books. I’ve made it easy here where every paragraph is a jump to a new head: first the priestess, then the priest, then the man, then all of the above.

Putting the scene in one person’s point of view keeps the scene from getting confusing. The reader doesn’t have to work hard to remember whose head to be in. It also reads smoothly, allowing for action/reaction flows. I will discuss this in more depth later because it will need more time that I have here. But what I will do is a quick rewrite of the scene just in the man’s point of view. Oh, by the way, I didn’t know it when I was writing this scene originally, but the man’s name is Balthier, so I’m changing it because unless he has amnesia, he will know his own name.

The priestess jumped to her feet and tried to block Balthier from entering the cave. “You can’t. She’s a Ch’bauldi and you are charged with protecting her.”

The priest moved behind the priestess, standing as second ready to defend her. Balthier looked the scrawny man over. The priest had no weapon in which to defend himself, or the priestess if it came to blows, and Balthier suspected it would. They posed no real threat, especially to a dragonborn. “You have 30 seconds to help the dragon and her dragonborn or I will take care of the situation.”

Neither the priest or priestess moved. Balthier’s dagger would have to do the job.

Overall, it’s shorter and more concise, though not perfect. I wanted to add in what Balthier knew about the priest’s and priestess’ vows to protect the dragon, but it felt like I needed more of a build earlier for that, so I left it out.

I harp on point of view so I’m sure I’ll discuss it more often. To want to be in every character’s head all at once so that the writer can tell the reader what they are all thinking is lazy writing. There’s body language, there’s dialog, there’s narration — all those are better clues to how a character is. So, in the first example, you know what a wimp the priest is by his own thoughts, whereas in the second example it’s being filtered through Balthier’s perspective of “standing as a second ready to defend” and “suspected it would” (come to blows) that make the priest and priestess more of a threat to him. Because of this, there’s more tension in the second one. The priestess “tries” to block Balthier’s path; he knows she’s no match for him, but we see her ready to defend and that makes her a stronger character too.  The first example is full of “telling a story” with “It went against her oaths as a priestess” and “He didn’t want to do it, didn’t figure the man would strike a woman, but these days one could never be too certain. He just wasn’t sure that he wanted to stand against this dragonborn either.” The second example has some “telling” still, but does “show” the story more because we have Balthier’s perception of what they are doing, whether they are really feeling the bravo they are showing or not. There’s also more going on between these characters than is being put on the page — they each seem to know something that the reader doesn’t, not yet at least. This is a good way to hook the reader into reading more because they want to know. However, be very careful about doing this technique when you’re writing in 1st person — more on that later.

I also want to point out my note on the left hand side: “Smells.” The sense of smell is one that is often overlooked, unless it’s blood and how many times have you seen blood described as: “the coppery scent of blood filled the air.” Even I’m guilty of this one. It’s always good to have a reminder about smell.

Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.

Dragons of Wellsdeep – page 1 edit

Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg1_Dawn Blair  Dragons of Wellsdeep_pg1_edited_Dawn Blair

The draft on top is the original draft as it has been written. On the bottom is my edit draft with my handwritten comments.

This scene is completely written in an omnipotent point of view. That is to say that it’s like a ghostly spirit is hanging around watching the scene — the fly on the wall, so to speak. It’s fine to start a scene that way, but, as you’ll see next week when we discuss page 2, it gets to needing a point of view very quickly. Why? Because in omnipotent point of view, it is possible to have everyone’s thoughts (being in the head of every character) all at once or truly being the disembodied spirit and being in no one’s thoughts but the spirits. Too many writers use omnipotent point of view and in my opinion they do it incorrectly. Thoughts are everywhere. I will give more details in the blog later as it’s too lengthy to discuss now.

This scene also needs far more description than it has. It’s fast and some description will help slow this scene down and ground the characters into it. Showing it from one character’s point of view will also help. I find that if one character is thinking about what’s going on rather than the floating spirit, it gets richer and deeper in being able to filter the scene through the character’s life experience. When you’re god, you know everything and all, so it’s hard to really be able to shade things emotionally as good or bad. The event just is what it is.

More description, like in illustrating how the priestesses are dressed, will tell if they were ready for this birthing or not. Little details can show so much about the story.

Go back through the page and read the proposed changes. How would you incorporate changes? What would you do? Do you see something I missed. Comment below. Then we can have fun and see how the page develops into the second draft together.