Guest Post

If you have a book to promote, Lyrical Pens is now welcoming guest posts on Wednesdays. I can furnish a questionnaire or you can create your own post. FYI, up front: The site is a definite PG-13. Contact cjpetterson@gmail.com for details. cj

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Deep Point of View

cj Sez: I like to write as much into deep point of view as I can. I’m not always successful, and it always takes a few edit cycles to get what I want.
(All the 'toons are from Facebook)

Deep point of view is intense. It encompasses the sights, sounds, and actions, filtered through a point of view character but goes deeper into her/his emotions, actions, and reactions. In deep point of view, the character owns the page.

Following are a couple of the tips I picked up a few years ago from a blog and adopted into my writing: (The examples are from my work in progress which, of course, will be honed even further.)

1. Make as many of your dialogue tags disappear as possible.

Dialogue tags do clarify a speaker, but they also remind readers that they are reading a story. In deep point of view, tags are often replaced by action, body language, voice description, emotion. How the words are said and the actions behind the words reveal a lot about a character’s emotional state of mind.

Distant point of view: “That’s not something I care to share,” she said.

The reader can’t understand what she means. Is she naturally a private person? Maybe she’s being a bit belligerent.

Deeper: “That’s not something I care to share,” she said, wadding her napkin into a ball.

Her action gives a clue that what she doesn’t want to share upsets her. The “she said” reminds readers that they’re reading a novel, and it’s also redundant. (If dialog is in the same paragraph as the character’s action, then the action character is also the speaker.) In this sentence, I would have to eliminate the action to make it correct. But I want to give the character some emotional action to develop the persona more fully. So, let’s go deeper still.

Deeper still: “That’s not something I care to share.” She wadded a napkin into as tight a ball as she could get it then started picking it apart with her fingernails, shredding the paper into a pile of confetti.

The character’s body language adds a deeper point of view. The character’s emotional state of mind is revealed…without telling.

2. Make your thought words/sense words disappear

Thought words/sense words are telling words. They put an author on the page and again remind readers they are reading a novel. They are contrary to the “real life experience” of deep point of view.

How often do you personally think, I’m thinking about tomorrow’s party?  Or I’m wondering if … whatever?

You don’t. And if you’re writing in deep point of view, your characters don’t either. Oh, they’ll think, wonder, and see, hear, and feel; but they won’t add the filter words. They’ll just do it.

Distant: She felt his hands around her throat and wondered if she was going to die.

     The reader doesn’t feel what the character feels. The author has told the reader what the character thinks/feels.

Deep:   She tore at the fingers squeezing her throat. This is it. I’m going to die.

     (No thinking. No wondering. Just showing what’s happening and pulling in the reader.)


Another tip: Our worldviews are shaped by our life experiences and expectations. These are also the things that make up characters’ backstories. Ergo: Know your characters so thoroughly that you know reflexively how they will react in every situation.


As you explore deep point of view, know that there are many reasons to break the rules. Explore and discover the tips and tricks, and then use what works for you and your story. Remember, you are in charge…you are the captain of your story.


Let me know what you think. Will you go exploring?

Be sure to stop by Wednesday and read what author Joan Leotta has to say about how to get paid to write for essay markets.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj
cjpetterson@gmail.com
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

CAN A POET WRITE A NOVEL?

by Guest Laurel Peterson

cj Sez:  Today, Lyrical Pens welcomes poet/novelist Laurel Peterson. Laurel is not a relative of mine, but I believe she’d be a wonderful addition to the family. Take it away, Laurel.

Thanks, cj, for offering me a spot on your blog today. I’m delighted to be here.

I had a wonderful professor in graduate school who said poets couldn’t write novels, and I’ve read some novels by poets that bear out his point. But I’m a poet with two published poetry chapbooks and a full-length collection coming out next year from Futurecycle Press, and I’ve written a mystery novel titled Shadow Notes, released May 17th by Barking Rain Press. And there are others out there that have done both successfully—perhaps some of you reading this!—so I’m going to challenge his thesis. I would say that poetic focus can be an advantage in writing novels.

That professor, the poet Dan Masterson, had four “rules” for poetry, which are equally as useful for novelists. First, he said, write lines good enough to go on a t-shirt. While I think novelists don’t agonize over each individual sentence in the same way poets do (we’d never finish our novels!), we do care about our language. It must capture attitude or mood, as well as conveying information. It can’t be the easiest word that comes to mind. Instead it has to be the right one, and often has to convey multiple layers of meaning. (cj Sez: That is so true, Laurel. To quote Mark Twain: “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”)

The second rule is to use concrete imagery: not he walked by some pretty flowers (what kind of flowers? what kind of walk? how pretty?) but he sauntered past a mass of delicate lemon-colored roses spilling over a grey split-rail fence.

The third, an engaging story line. Well, that’s self-explanatory, no?

The fourth, some center of emotional pain or truth. This is the core of what we need to do as writers—communicate real human experience to our readers. In Shadow Notes, my protagonist Clara Montague is afraid of losing another parent, frustrated at her inability to talk to the one she still has, lonely because she has returned to a town where she has few friends. Those common human emotions draw readers to our stories and keep them there, rooting for our characters to win.

Poetry teaches a writer to pay attention to details—the right word, the right image, the most important moment to portray. All of us who love words care about those things. So what do you think? Is being a poet an advantage or a disadvantage when writing a novel? Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear from you!

Laurel S. Peterson is an English professor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. Her poetry has been published in many literary journals and she has two poetry chapbooks. Her first mystery, Shadow Notes, has just been released by Barking Rain Press. Find her on Twitter (@laurelwriter49), Facebook, LinkedIn, or at her website: www.laurelpeterson.com.

      
Clara Montague’s mother Constance never liked—or listened—to her but now they have to get along or they will both end up dead. Clara suspects she and her mother share intuitive powers, but Constance always denied it. When Clara was twenty, she dreamed her father would have a heart attack. Constance claimed she was hysterical. Then he died.
Furious, Clara leaves for fifteen years, but when she dreams Constance is in danger, she returns home. Then, Constance’s therapist is murdered and Constance is arrested.
Starting to explore her mother’s past, Clara discovers books on trauma, and then there’s a second murder. Can Clara find the connection between the murders and her mother’s past that will save her mother and finally heal their relationship?  

cj Sez: Thank you so very much, Laurel, for sharing this great information with Lyrical Pens readers. I am not a formal student of linguistics, but syntax and semantics are important to my writing, so, yes, I believe being a poet is an asset. And with your attention to emotional detail, I expect Shadow Notes to be the first of your best sellers