This Business of Writing

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How Setting Influences Your Characters

In The Craft of Writing on February 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm

As I performed my research for this article, an idea came to me I should have visualized long ago. That is, setting serves as much more than a mere vehicle to cement my readers in the time and place within my story. It is a psychological force upon my characters. In contemporary writing, setting stands as an influence that acts upon the characters.

Readers now know that in life, environment is part of what molds one’s personality and their background is among the many factors that help to shape who he is. Further, they understand one’s choices in life indicate the “real” person within. It’s psychology 101. Therefore, the successful author will use setting as an indicator of personality.

To put this in perspective, consider these examples. We’ve all known someone who drove a red convertible and someone else who drove a used Pinto. Without doubt, these people possessed differing personalities. With this in mind, consider how a murdered parent might push the child toward a life or good or evil. Will a coonskin cap show a wanderer’s proclivity to the hunter’s life? Will the slums of Elizabethan England act upon the street rat to make him a thief. How might an American woman be influenced if a book was set in a Muslim nation? All these aspects of setting play upon the personality and mind of the characters.

How might a writer go about presenting setting as a psychological force? I see it in subplots. In my current manuscript, my hero’s parents are murdered when he is a child. This event then determines his choice of careers. Further, this subplot takes him to places in the world he would never otherwise visit and force him to commit actions he would never consider had he not become an orphan. Further, I wanted to use a pocket watch as a subplot. My hero purchases this when he is a young man with the idea he would bequeath it to his firstborn son at the appropriate time. He never has children. What happens to the pocket watch? It becomes a symbol of those unrealized aspects to his life.

All this behooves the author to look at his setting as even more authentic, more realistic than ever before. Readers will pillory an author for these kinds of errors, so a thin setting is no longer acceptable. Caution and adequate research is necessary, now more than ever.

Setting is more than place and time. It’s a power that creates your characters and influences their lives. Get to know your setting as you would your main characters and your novel will be the better for it.

Until we meet again, I wish you only best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze

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Character Types in Fiction – Part 2

In The Craft of Writing on November 20, 2009 at 9:11 am

by C. Patrick Schulze

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In my most recent post I introduced two types of characters, The Hero, (protagonist), and the Mentor, (Wizard, Wise Old Man / Wise Old Woman). Today, we’ll continue in the same vein and introduce additional character types for your novels.

Next in line of our universal characters is the Threshold Guardian.

As we know, our protagonist must traverse many obstacles while on his quest and in many instances some of those hurdles are watched over by Threshold Guardians. Its goal is to keep the unworthy from entering. The common placement of the Guardian, as you might expect, is as a gatekeeper, most often for the Big Enchilada. It is not necessary for these people to have an evil demeanor and attitude, but most authors seem to portray them in that light. In unusual circumstances they can even be secret helpers to your hero.

These sentinels can take most any form you wish. They can be fierce creatures ready to devour your hero or something as nonthreatening as a child who withholds a secret. When your hero encounters the various kinds of guardians, they can be overcome, bypassed or even turned into allies. They represent the hero’s inner demons or serve as training for more difficult tasks he has yet to face.

How is your hero supposed to deal with these impediments? The answer lies in the guardian’s unique nature or personality. Your protagonist must find a way to get under the beast’s skin. In some instances, they do so literally, as when Sam and Frodo dressed like the Eye’s warriors to traverse the badlands. With luck, your hero may simply ignore or bypass him. In most stories, however, the Threshold Guardian must be fought, bribed, educated, turned, appeased, convinced or killed.

Despite the looks of it, a Threshold Guardian is often a positive thing to your hero. After all, doesn’t he warn everyone the Big Bad Wolf is near? They can also help your hero in another fashion for as they test the good guy, your hero grows in strength and knowledge. The good guy might even pick up a weapon or two.

Our next key character is The Herald.

In studying how to write a book, you’ll find this guy brings two things to your hero. The first is an announcement of major change your hero is about to face. The other is motivation.

In the early telling of the typical story, the hero muddles through his life by way of current knowledge or dumb luck. All of a sudden, some new problem crops up that is beyond his skills and he can no longer get by on his own. This new imbalance, called The Call to Adventure, is delivered by none other than The Herald. This guy gets your hero’s great quest moving along.

Herald’s represent coming change. In “Star Wars – A New Hope,” who is The Herald? Who is it that brings Luke Skywalker an announcement of some great change that gets the story moving forward? It’s R2D2. He is the character that shows Luke the message from the princess, thus announcing the coming transformation in Luke’s life. Remember how Luke gets excited by the message? There’s his motivation.

What form does The Herald take? Like every character in your story, it takes whatever shape you wish. It can be a person, a note, a feeling, a telegraph, an animal. It matters not. Just know as you learn how to write a story, a herald is necessary.

As with every character in your story, The Herald may be good, evil or neutral. In most stories, The Herald is brought in early to get your hero moving toward his quest, but his appearance depends on when and how you decide to have your hero’s quest started.

Now for one of my favorite characters, The Shapeshifter.

This powerful archetype is shifty, two-faced. You see him for the first time and he’s helping. Yet, the next time you cross his path he’s trying to destroy you. (Every see this type in real life?) The classic example of The Shapeshifter is found in the opposite sex, though this in not necessary.

The function of this creature is to confuse the hero and the reader. It is the bringer of doubt and the propagator of confusion. In our earlier example of “Star Wars,” a Shapeshifter is Lando Calrissian. Remember him? The boos on the cloud mining operation, he first comes out to meet Han Solo with a grimace and a complaint. He then hugs him, betrays him, then saves Solo and finally joined the Rebellion and is given the rank of general for the climactic battle scene. Boy does this guy alter his appearance – four times. He kept you guessing throughout most of the movie.

Shapeshifters may change in any way imaginable. They may alter their personality, form, allegiance, or just their clothes. Regardless, all these changes bring uncertainty and apprehension to your hero and your readers. Consider if you will, the Wicked Witch in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” She shifted from a queen, to a witch, to a dragon to a pile of ash as we progressed through that story. Wow!

Next comes The Shadow.

This guy is often your villain, though he need not be so. The Shadow represents your hero’s doubt. This character might not be a character at all, but a force, of sorts, that rises and falls within any or all characters as needed in your novel. It can shift from character to character but always plays the same role – one of slipping out of normalcy and into doubt.

Remember in the hobbit story when Frodo is about to drop the ring into the eternal fires of Mount Doom? He hesitates. He considers the power his is relinquishing and doubts if he can or even should toss the ring into oblivion. In that same series, doubt rears its ugly head in the good guys at the time when the Eye’s multitudes surround the king and his meager band of warriors just prior to the Eye’s ultimate end. If you remember, as soon as those massive gates open and the good guys see the number of bad guys they face, the good guys shy back a step, brows high and eyes wide in doubt.

Can The Shadow also be a formal character? Sure, and in fact he often is. In the movie, “Independence Day,” the president fires one of his advisors, (can’t remember his name), and the other characters as well as the viewing crowd almost cheer. Doubt has been erased and the president has risen to the role of confident hero in that instant. (Fanfare here.)

Shadows need not be of absolute evil. In fact, a secret to creating Shadows is they often make better characters if they hold some element of goodness. Think of a villain who, just as the hero is about to slay him, exhibits some level of goodness as with “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” In this case, we see evil incarnate surrounded by a very real, and good person.

The Shadow may be internal or external. External Shadows are easy to spot, the Emperor in “Star Wars,” for example. Internal Shadows may be more difficult to visualize but you need only to look to Darth Vader to view internal shadow. After all, this once good, then evil creature turns against his puppet master to save Luke and transforms into something good again. (In this case, the Shadow is also a Shapeshifter.)

Our final character is The Trickster.

The typical Trickster is the comical sidekick. They are utilized to bring your hero down to earth, often by way of comic relief. They also like to stir up trouble for no reason other than to do so. They are what’s called “catalyst characters.” They that change others, but rarely change themselves.

Without them, the conflict in your story may lead to reader exhaustion. An old saw in drama tells us to “Make ‘em cry a lot; let ‘em laugh a little.” This “laugh a little” is the job of your Trickster. Tricksters can be cohorts of the hero, as with Giordano in “Sahara”, or may even be the villain. They also might not be related to either of them.

One of my favorites is the aforementioned Giordano. The hero is given a coin minted in limited quantity by the Confederate Government. He’s all excited about the implications of his find. Giordano’s response? “My father has a coin collection.” Giordano’s meaning, of course, is that coins travel the world all by themselves and the hero needs to get his head on straight as to the significance of this single coin he’s found.

A variation of the Trickster is the Trickster Hero. In fact, our very same Giordano is such a character. Not only does her provide the comic relief, but he is also a minor hero in his own right. He is, after all, the guy who finds and dismantles the bomb, is he not?

Well, there you have it, an outline of the various and interesting characters with which you may populate your novels. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

In the mean time, I wish you all best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze

Author of the emerging novel, “Born to be Brothers”


Character Types in Fiction

In The Craft of Writing on November 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

by C. Patrick Schulze

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As we travel together down the road of how to write a novel, I’ve talked about the steps your protagonist must take while on his journey through your novel. Today I’m going to introduce you to those various characters he’ll meet along the way.  In this post, we’ll meet the Hero and the Mentor. Soon, we’ll meet many more.

Before we meet these all-important and archetypal helpers, hinderers and others, let’s review who it is these many creatures represent. I like to think of them as the assorted types of people I meet in real life. When I populate my manuscripts with characters, I infuse them with human characteristics, typically from people I’ve met, know or know of. After all, the best stories are little more than metaphors for the human condition, are they not? This idea works for creatures, too. Regardless the species of your characters, they will assume human qualities.

Consider your novel’s champion, or protagonist, for example. He lives, struggles, overcomes, succumbs, grows, learns and maybe even dies. He loves, he hates, he suffers, he surpasses and so on. These are all aspects of the human condition, so it’s quite obvious your characters will exhibit the qualities of existent humans.

These guys to whom I’ll introduce you are universal. They can be employed in whatever genre you write. In a war story, is there a hero? Yep. How about a love story? It’s the same. What if you wish to write about talking birds? You’ll have the same characters in there somewhere.

Armed with that knowledge, let’s introduce the major character types in fiction.

First, and of most importance, is The Hero.

In my research for this article I learned the word, “hero” is Greek in origin and means “one who protects or one who serves.” Think of him as a shepherd of sorts, someone who will sacrifice for the good of his flock. This concept of sacrificing one’s self is at the heart of the hero’s meaning.

It is his fate to leave the comfortable confines of his world and venture into the place where he is, in effect, lost. He, like us, must learn to cope, to grow and to overcome. During his journey, he will face tests, meet teachers and guides, come across those who wish him harm and maybe even meet his love. Hum… sounds sort of like our own lives, doesn’t it? (Do you see a secret to writing a successful novel in that last sentence?)

His purpose in your story is to give your readers a window into not only the story, but life itself. You must find a way to make your protagonist relate to as many potential readers as possible. This is done by instilling in your hero those universal characteristics that your readers will appreciate. That is, qualities we find within ourselves.

Think about some of those universal aspects of the human animal and give those qualities to your hero. You can consider among others, fear, revenge, love, lust, patriotism, desperation, freedom, survival, understanding or idealism. If you can convey these qualities into your hero, the reader will have an easier time identifying with him. This is one of the many secrets to having your manuscript accepted. If you notice, I mention some unsavory qualities, too. Yes, give your hero some of those. Not too many, mind you, but an interesting flaw or two will humanize your hero. Are real life heroes perfect? Neither are your novel based ones.

Keep in mind your hero may be a willing accomplice to his fate or not. It’s unimportant as to his enthusiasm for his quest. Also remember these ideas apply regardless the form your hero takes, be it animal, alien, or even a vegetable.

Another aspect to his fate is action. This does not need be explosive in nature, but rather in the aspect the hero is in control of his personal fate.

The most terrifying scene for your hero is his coming face-to-face with Death. It can be in a metaphorical sense, but he must fact the greatest of losses in your climactic scene. In this part of your novel, your protagonist must present his truly heroic side by willingly sacrificing himself for the good of others if needs be.

Our next character is the ever-popular Mentor.

This character goes by many names and among them is the Wise Old Man or Wizard. He is usually a positive figure, though he need not be so. The archetype is of a lesser hero, if you will. In simple terms, he’s a guide for your premier character.

He represents the best person within us all. He insures the hero is made aware of right from wrong and is provided with all the necessary knowledge or skills to complete his quest. He is a gift-giver of sorts. Think of the Fairy-Godmother in “Cinderella” or Merlin in “King Arthur.”

His main purpose lies in teaching. Your hero comes into this new world of his without many, if not most, of the skills he’ll need to complete his quest. It matters not if he is to drive a silver stake into the heart of Dracula or if she is to find a new love. Regardless the journey, the hero lacks something and the Mentor is there to take care of that nasty little inconvenience.

There is typically a catch involved with these wonderful gifts the Mentor offers. And that is they should be earned by your hero. Think of Snow White in her fairy tale. Who later comes to her aid? All the creatures of the forest do. And why do they do this for her? It’s because Snow White showed them kindness earlier in the tale.

The Mentor can have other functions, too. He might act as conscience to your hero. Might your hero rebel against this conscience? Uh, do real people? The Mentor may also serve to motivate him or even introduce him to the physical pleasures of love. (Now we see why this guy is so popular!)

There are many types of Mentors. He may be what’s called a Dark Mentor, where the good qualities of the human being are turned inside out. Think Joan Wilder’s agent in “Romancing the Stone.” At some point, Joan’s agent turns against advising Joan to succeed and begins to plant doubts in Joan Wilder’s mind. This type of Mentor can be interesting as they typically change from a force of good to one of doubt. They can also be presented as first a bringer of doubt and later transform into a source of power.

There are Fallen Mentors like Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own.” There are Continuing Mentors, those that carry over into sequels, such as “M” in the James Bond series. There can be Multiple Mentors. Think Obi Wan and Yoda in “Star Wars.” However, if you use Multiple Mentors, insure one is premier while the multiples are minor in comparison, bringing lesser gifts.

This list of Mentor types goes on and on, but they all serve the same purpose. They teach and are givers of gifts. These guys bring inspiration, guidance, training, weapons, hope and all the other tools your hero requires. Without them in your story, at least at an emotional or mental level, your story will be incomplete.

As to placement of Mentors in your manuscript, they show up when they are needed to insure your story moves forward.

In my next post about how to write a book, which may be tomorrow or Monday, I’ll introduce you to other characters such as the Shapeshifter, Threshold Guardians, Heralds, Tricksters and Shadows. Sounds exciting.

Hum… this may turn into a three part post. We’ll see.

Until we meet again, may all your books be best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze

Author of the emerging novel “Born to be Brothers”


How to Use Conflict in Fiction

In The Craft of Writing on November 18, 2009 at 9:21 am

by C. Patrick Schulze

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Conflict is critical to any good story. It’s what makes your story worth reading and, in fact, is the key component that weaves all the elements of your novel together. Without it, you’ve simply written a series of facts and occurrences. Conflict is what gets your readers’ hearts beating, their blood boiling and their fingers turning the page. (And turning that page is what generates buzz and book sales.)

I feel there exists a major misunderstanding among writers, especially new writers, as it relates to conflict. I’ll explain what this is by first telling you what it is not.  It is not the crisis or what happens to your characters. It is not the battle, the argument or the deception. Surprised?

Conflict rests upon their thoughts and feelings, toward the events your characters experience. It’s found within the moral choices your characters make. It’s within the building, then exploding tension between opposing forces.

Think of it this way. A daughter tells her father a lie, but the father could not care less. Where is the excitement? Where is the energy? Where is the drama? It’s in the father’s reaction to the lie, not within the lie itself. You’ll have greater conflict if the father gets angry about the lie rather than ignoring it.

There are five premier conflict types to utilize within a story. They are:

Inner Conflict: This is when your character struggles within himself. For example, your protagonist has trouble balancing his fear of heights and his assignment as a paratrooper in the army. Inner conflict is often based upon a character’s vulnerabilities. Strong inner conflict often makes the best stories.

Relational Conflict: This occurs when two people struggling against each other, as in the example of the father and his daughter’s lie.

Social Conflict: This takes place when someone comes in conflict with a group. Think of a soldier caught behind enemy lines.

Conflict with Nature: This is when a character struggles with a life and death situation born by the universe. Maybe your hero is caught in an avalanche.

Situational Conflict: This occurs when your character is in conflict with not his boss, but his boss’s ambitions, or a like situation.

If you think about people, they tend to stay within comfortable boundaries and shy away from disruptive choices. Your characters are no different. They need someone, or something, to force them out of their tidy little lives. An effective method is to develop your antagonist so they will poke at the root of your hero’s internal conflict. This works quite well, especially if the bad guy’s goal is in opposition to your hero’s. Keep in mind your antagonist need not be someone wearing a black hat. It can be anything including animal, vegetable, mineral, idea, desire, thought – whatever you wish it to be.

I’ll now give you some general tips for writing conflict.

Too much drama, or too little, will distance your reader. There is a delicate balance of conflict necessary for a good story. Evaluate every instance within your novel and eliminate everything that is unnecessary to moving the story forward.

Keep the number of conflict points to a minimum. Two opposing conflict points, one internal and one external, are usually enough to carry your novel. Can you put in more? Sure, but with each new conflict point comes an increased potential loss of control over the story. Be careful.

Build tension. Although a strong conflict from the very start of your novel is beneficial, drop quickly then build slowly to a crescendo. On that path toward your climatic scene, you should toss in a couple of other conflict points of lesser strength to keep raising the stakes. Yet, despite these conflict points, be always vigilant in building toward your final conflict.

Don’t have too many twists and turns in your conflict. A well-crafted novel exhibits that delicate balance between too much and too little conflict. It also strikes that same balance between conflict and crisis.

Your conflict should build in an upward trending straight line, with a couple of lesser peaks and their resulting valleys, towards the climax. This line falls in dramatic fashion after the conclusion of  your major conflict point. Find that correct balance, set an interesting pace to your writing, and draw your reader into the story.

Every chapter in your novel should have someone wanting something. This want need not be anything of utmost importance, but each chapter should contain some level of conflict. It may be as simple as a young girl wishing her mother would allow her to walk to school, to the reactions of your hero as he is thrust into battle. Regardless, you need conflict in every chapter.

Conflict begins and ends with desire. In your storyline, use the bond of your hero in disagreement with someone or something.

The essence of building tension is choice. Your hero must be forced to make choices in order to keep him moving forward on his quest. If your reader knows what your hero is going to do in each crisis, your novel has limited suspense and your readers lose a great deal of their interest. This is why the hero must learn as he moves toward his goal – it keeps your reader involved in finding out what he does next. Keep in mind you must maintain his personality, but by offering your protagonist conflicting alternatives, it keeps your tension at a higher plane.

Your conflict must have a final goal in mind. That goal is the growth of your hero. This evolution can be emotional, physical or any other “-al” you wish, but the purpose of all this running around is to, in the end, have your protagonist come out a better person.

Use cliffhangers. Have you noticed how commercials interrupt your favorite television shows? (How can you not?) I’ll bet you’ve noticed they come just as the tension is building to a crescendo. Use this same technique in your novels. End each chapter with a cliffhanger. They need not be of the magnitude of the hero’s death, but leave a question in the readers’ mind. It will keep them wanting to know more.

After your cliffhanger gets your reader to turn the page, don’t give the answer away right away. It’s yet another delicate balance as to when to give them their answer, so play with what works for your story.

I’ve mentioned the balance needed in your manuscript a couple of times already. One secret to this balance is to vary the pace of your novel. Give them some excitement, then tone it down so your reader can catch their breath. Build again, a little more this time, then let them relax once more. You can vary the pace of your novel by using action, the tone of your writing, the length of your paragraphs and even sentences. (Shorter sentences and chapters increase speed, while longer ones slow it down.) It’s an intricate technique, but once mastered, it will lift your writing to a new level of competence and sales.

Fear intensifies conflict. Your hero must face his fears so include fright at judicious points within your manuscript.

Use dialogue as a major tool in the building of your conflict. If used effectively, dialogue increases the emotion, tension and tragedy. It, too, can be used to increase or decrease the pace of your work.

Now for a short story that exemplifies the rise and fall of conflict within an effective storyline.

Three little pigs build three little houses. The first house is made of straw, the second of wood and the third of brick.

The Big Bad Wolf arrives, wanting to eat the three pigs. The three pigs are upset as to his arrival and retreat into their respective houses for safety.

The wolf arrives at the first house and tells the pig he wants to eat it. The little pig is terrified! The wolf blows the house down. Fortunately, after near capture and death, the pig escapes into the home of his compatriot, the second pig.

The wolf arrives at the second house and again threatens to kill and eat the pigs within. He huffs and puffs until the little house collapses. After a thrilling escape, the two pigs retreat into the house of the third pig.

The wolf arrives at the last house with two of the three pigs trembling inside. One pig, however, is confident. The wolf blows and blows but cannot destroy the brick house. The worried pigs breathe a sigh of relief.

But wait! There’s more!

The wolf sneaks down the chimney and those same two pigs again go into fearful tremors. The third pig is still confident he can save them all.

Down comes the wolf!

Oh! The tension! Two pigs are in hysterics. The third faces this new turn of events with continued aplomb.

The wolf is caught by surprise by the actions of the third pig when he climbs down the chimney.

The three pigs live happily ever after.

Now, after reading the story, answer the following questions.

  • Can you identify the various crisis points of the story?
  • Can you determine the points of conflict within the story?
  • Do you see the rising, then falling, then rising tension, or plot points, with the ending sigh of relief?
  • Are you able to identify the climactic point of the story?

If you were able to answer these questions correctly, you now understand the fundamentals of fiction.

Until my next post, I wish you all best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze
Author of the emerging novel “Born to be Brothers”


POV Tips for Fiction

In Marketing Your Book on November 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Last night I was working with my critique group and they stunned me with some of the errors they found still hidden within my novel, “Born to be Brothers.” Two, (count ‘em), of those errors were in Point of View, or as it’s know, POV. With last night’s lesson clear in my mind, I thought today’s post should encompass that great bugaboo, Point of View.

Let’s first try to understand what POV is. In a sound bite, it’s who is telling the story. Is a single character narrating what is going on, or are a number, or even all the characters, telling the reader what is happening? POV is nothing more than the writer’s method of determining which character is presenting the narrative. See, it’s not all that mysterious.

As to the types of POV, there are four perspectives for telling your story, though some say there are five. Regardless, my focus will be with the three most common uses of POV in fiction, and then primarily upon the Third Person, as it is the easiest to use and most common POV in novels. Know that each POV has its advantages, disadvantages and typical uses.

The three major types, with primary subdivisions are:

• First Person POV

• Second Person POV

• Third Person POV

o Limited

o Omniscient

o Objective

Keep in mind when you write, you’ll settle into the one or two POV’s that serves your storytelling and writing style. In fiction, the primary POV is Third Person.

Let’s define these POV’s.

First Person POV First Person POV has the writer, or narrator, personally telling the story. In effect, the narrator is speaking to his readers about what is transpiring and it can be told in either present or past POV. It is most often used when one is authoring a book about ones’ personal experiences or opinions. You’ll see the writer using the common pronouns of I, me, my, mine, we, our and ours.

It can fit into fiction, but is widely used in memoirs.

An example sentence is:

As I looked at Jill, I knew she was upset.

Second Person POV

Think of this as how to write an instruction manual and extensive use of the word, “you.”

This POV is rarely used in fiction as it simply tells the reader what the characters are doing and what they see. It is an awkward way to write with limited access to creativity. However, it does grab the reader’s attention.

It can also exist in past and present forms.

An example sentence is:

You, Jill, will then purse your lips and furrow your brow.

• Third Person POV has three subtypes and we’ll discover each on its own.

o Third Person – Omniscient POV

Third Person Omniscient POV is having all the major characters in your novel telling the story. What is nice about this POV is the freedom it affords. The author can tell the reader what everyone’s motivations are and what it is they are thinking. It allows the writer to give or withhold information at will.

The difficulties lie in lack of control and its potentially cumbersome nature. If you are not careful, by showing what’s inside every character’s head, the reader receives too much information and can become frustrated as your POV loses cohesion.

You overcome this drawback by insuring consistency in your POV and by having only one person at a time tell the story. Also, eliminate any information that is not pertinent to the story. Have each chapter focus on one individual will help eliminate “head-hopping,” or jumping from one character’s POV to another within chapters.

Your example:

Jack wondered what Jill was thinking while Jill knew quite well what thoughts rattled around Jack’s mind. Bill was surprised by what Jill was thinking.

(See how this can get out of hand?)

o Third Person – Limited POV

Third Person Limited POV is perhaps the easiest to utilize and most popular when writing novels. Here the author writes from a single person’s vision throughout the entire book. In third person POV, you’ll see pronouns such as she, he, her, him, hers, his, it, its, they, them, theirs.

The disadvantages come with the writer’s limitation as to who sees what. The character telling the story cannot get into the head of another to read his thoughts. He can only surmise what the other guy is thinking by that person’s facial expression, actions and such. It’s also very easy to shift out of this POV.

Your example:

Jak understood Jill’s irritation, for her pursed lips and furrowed brow told him everything he needed to know.

o Third Person Objective POV

In this POV, the author only tells his readers what happens by way of action or dialogue. Their characters’ feelings or thoughts are never revealed. It is not the most effective POV for fiction.

Your example is:

Jack watched Jill furrow her brow and pinch her face.

When the major POV’s for fiction are broken down by types, it doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming, does it? In fact, as you read the names of each type of POV, it should be easy to remember each of them. Limited, has a limited number of narrators, Omniscient, (Omni = all),  has everyone telling and Objective has no one telling.

The secret to POV is to learn what type works well for your writing style and the types of stories you tell and then allowing these factors to drive your POV. Focus on the one or two you need and let the rest go for now.

I hope this has helped a bit, and I wish you only best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze