Susie May on Deep POV!

Are you getting ready to write NaNoWriMo and wondering just what POV or voice to write it in?  Try Deep POV!  I love how Deep POV gets a reader into the skin of the characters and helps them feel the story.

Here’s how it works:

Have you ever watched the television show Fear Factor?  It’s a show where people are challenged to do “scary” things like eat a live spider or bungee jump, for charity.  It’s supposed to elicit people’s deepest fears and make them overcome them. I watch it and think, “Never. Not even for charity.”  However, do I feel my throat closing, that panic clenching my gut, my legs telling me to run?  No.  I just think – wow, they are idiots.

Consider, however, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. We watch with our hands over our eyes, our heart in our throats, experiencing true fear.

This is the difference between Standard  3rd person POV and Deep 3rd person POV.  One watches from a distance, the other engages us in the fear.

Why write Deep POV?

A great book is made up of the emotional highs and lows of the POV characters.  We want to feel what the character feels, ride their journey with them and possibly learn with them.  A great story makes us ache with the character, and eventually, engage with their choices, their struggles with values and their epiphany.  Think about this – what is going to glue your reader to the page more – grappling with the black moment/life-changing decisions with the character, or to view it from a distance?  Deep POV is illuminating, empowering, it helps us understand the point of the story.

Think of the difference between Deep POV and Standard Third Person as the difference between watching the action from the outside, as if walking beside the character (Fear Factor) and being inside the body and mind of the character. (Psycho)

Consider a scene written in Standard Third person POV:

The door creaked as Little Red Riding Hood eased the door open. The moonlight fell across her grandmother, asleep in her gown in the overstuffed chair in front of the now dormant fire.  “Grandmother?”

“Over here, child,” the voice said, and it seemed to Red that it contained a rough edge to it.

She tiptoed over.  In the dim light, her grandmother’s hands appeared small and shaggy, her face unkempt even as she kept it away from Red.  Red always thought her grandmother had aged too quickly in recent years.  She feared arriving one day to discover that she had passed away.  Hence, her decision to visit Granny despite the howl of the wind outside.  The chill in the room scurried across her skin.  She needed to start a fire and reminded herself to scold the useless woodcutter she paid to keep Granny’s fire lit.

“I brought you biscuits,” she said and held out her basket.

Grandmother turned and smiled.  The moonlight appeared to glint off her teeth.

Her voice shook, betraying a sudden spurt of fear. “What large teeth you have grandmother…”

In this scene, the narrator is showing and telling us the state of mind of Red Riding Hood, bringing us the story by walking in the room beside Red.

Now, let’s put it into Deep POV. 

The door creaked, the sound raising the fine hairs on her neck as Red eased it open.  The moonlight fell across her grandmother, settling into the folds of her white gown as she slept in the overstuffed chair.  Funny, her hands on the arm rests seemed more gnarled, older than last week. Granny was fading before her eyes.

The fire spit out white ash from the cold hearth.  Where was the woodcutter?  Of course he hadn’t stopped by – probably curled up in some tavern with his fellow loggers, drinking away the five pence she paid him to keep Granny’s fire lit.  Just wait until she hunted him down.

The quiet of the room sifted through her.  Something didn’t feel right, almost sinister. The cold scurried across her skin.

“I brought you biscuits.” She held out the basket.  Why had she arrived so late?  Poor Granny – probably she hadn’t even had dinner.

Then, Granny turned.  Grinned.

Uh… Deep breath.  Don’t run.  Because really, since when did Granny have incisors?

She kept her voice steady even as she reached for the axe.  “What large teeth you have grandmother…”

There are a number of tricks an author can use to pull a reader deeper into the story, but the most useful is to employ the first person test.  Try changing your prose into first person – I, my, me, even we.  This technique puts the author (and reader) right into the skin/mind of the POV character.  It allows everything – all the senses, the dialogue, the thoughts – to flow through the mind of the author/character.  If your character, in first person, would think it, then your character in third person deep POV would also think it.

Deep POV doesn’t work for all genres or stories, so employ it with care.  But if you want to write a powerful story that pulls the reader into the heart of the character, try Deep POV.

Join us for NaNoWriMo/MBTWriMo!  Check it out HERE

Go – write something brilliant!

How to Edit your Fast Draft Novel Step 2: Scene by Scene

“So much snow!” Sally came into the coffee shop stamping her feet.  Overnight, the sky had buried our little village in thick frosting.

I sat nursing a hot cocoa. “I know.  It feels a little overwhelming, thinking of plowing the driveway, the porch, the deck…”

“Not unlike doing the macro edit on my novel,” Sally said, unwinding her scarf. “But I think I have the big picture/content edits figured out. What’s next?” 

Kathy handed her a peppermint mint mocha. Sally sat down, warming her hands on the cup.

“Now it’s about looking at every scene to make sure it has enough tension and that you’re building in the emotional layers.  I call it: Scene by Scene Editing.

“First, start with the scene structure. Determine if it is an Action or ReAction scene. Then define your goals, conflict, disaster, or your response, dilemma, decision.

“Then, use the Tension equation and make sure you have built enough story tension!” (Sympathetic Character + Stakes + Goals + Obstacles + Fear of Failure.)

 

“So, look at the Scene Structure first. Done,” Sally said.

“Yes. After your Scene Structure is in place, then it’s time to see if you delivered through the Scene Elements.  In other words, have you drawn the reader into the world of the Character?

Storyworld?  

  • Do I have the NEWS of the scene – Who, What, When, Where and Why?
  • Do I have the 5 senses?
  • Have I created a mood with the use of my 5 senses, the verbs and nouns I use? 

POV? (Point of View) 

  • Would the scene have more impact if it was in a different POV?  (remember, write it in the POV of the person who had the most to lose). 

Dialogue? 

  • Dialogue moves a story and creates tension. If you have even one page without Dialogue, insert something – a remembered conversation, a phone conversation, even a letter or journal entry to create another voice. 
  • Have you created sparks with your dialogue?  If it feels tired and expected, have your character say something they shouldn’t – that should cause some tension! 

Emotion through Action? 

  • Give your character something to do, and have it convey his emotions. What does the character do because of the way he/she feels? 

Most importantly, have you allowed your reader to experience every important nuance of the scene?  Slow it down.  Describe the scene.  Take your time.  Your character will still go off the cliff – you are just helping the reader understand how dangerous it is and how hard he tries to stop it.

“It’s only after I do this phase that I begin to start wordsmithing – really fine tuning the words.”

“Seriously?  There’s another editing phase after this?”

“Two more, in fact. But just do this for now, or you’ll get overwhelmed.  Or,” I took a sip of my cocoa.  “Some might say…snowed in.”

“Ha,” she said.

 

Truth:  Editing a story is best accomplished by looking at the big picture first, then the individual scene.  Does your story deliver the emotional impact?  

Dare:  Look at your scene structure before you dive into the scene and you’ll have a better understanding of how to weave in the scene elements.

 

Have a great writing week!

Susie May

 

P.S. By the way, if you sign up for the daily Flashblog reminder in your email box, you receive the 5 Elements of a Best-Selling

Novel.  A quick class on those foundational elements every editor is looking for!  Sign up at: http://forms.aweber.com/form/35/866611135.htm

 

P.P.S.  As you might already know, MBT is now offering an advanced/premium membership with access to our full library, advanced teaching through webinars and video talk shows and a monthly advanced lesson.  For more info, check out:  www.mybooktherapy.com/join-the-team/.  Hope to see you at practice!

 

 

 

Conversations: What to do with your WriMo Chapters/How to edit a scene

I found Sally in line for coffee as I entered the coffee shop. She had already dumped her bag onto a chair, had already tugged off her gloves, her wool jacket, and wore her game face.

“What’s up? Did you not have a great thanksgiving?”

“It was fine. But, I’m 3000 words away from finishing my novel.”

“That’s great.”  I shed my jacket and motioned to Kathy. She gave me a smile, already on my order.

“No so much.”  She retrieved her coffee and handed me mine.  I nodded my appreciation.

“Why?”

“Because I only have 46000 words and I’m near the end of my novel.”

“And?”

“It’ supposed to be an 80,000 word novel! How am I going to come up with 30,000 more words?”

“Oh, I see.  You think just because you finished NaNoWriMo with a 50,000 word manuscript that you’re done. Mmmhmm.”

“Well, I know it needs editing….”

“Sally.  What you have created is the shell of your novel. You’ve put down every great scene you can think of, and because you are racing through the novel to write it – because that is the point of NaNoWriMo – you are hitting all the big events.  I bet you have sentences like, “She argued with him until she got her way,” and “The clock read 7am as she got into her car for work, angry at…whoever.”

“So?  What’s your point?”

“Take a breath. This is normal.  You’ve rushed into your story and through your scene so you can quickly download the story from your head to the page without losing it.  That’s excellent. Now that you have the framework of your story, you have to go back and add the furniture, the decorative touches. Storyworld and description and emotional layering.

Let’s return to those simple sentences.  Instead of telling us that the argument happened, how about letting us hear that argument.  We want to be a part of it.

Instead of telling us what time the clock read, how about really putting us in the scene?

            The sunrise simmered over the far horizon, hot lava spilling over the tops of the birch and pine trees, splashing down upon the frost that covered her windshield.  She opened the car door with a creak and fished around for the scraper.  Shoot, she’d left it in the other car.  Digging through her purse, she found her old fitness club card. Well, it wasn’t like she’d use that anytime soon.  She attacked the front windshield, drawing thick lines through the frost, the ice curling up over her bare fingers, turning them numb.

Maybe the rest of her could turn numb, too – anything to stop the roaring heat inside that was sure to spill over onto Malcolm the minute she walked into the office.

            How could he steal her presentation?

 

“Okay, I made up Malcolm – “

“I already hate him.”

“But see, instead of telling us how she felt, I drew you into the scene slowly, letting the reader really see it. Your WriMo scenes are essential because they’ve provided the framework of your story.  You now need to go back and flesh out each scene, adding in all the beautiful details, the storyworld, the characterization, the dialogue, the emotional and the metaphors. You’ve only just begun.”  (You can sing along if you’d like).

She laughed.  “So give me a game plan.”

“Okay.  When you’re finished with the fast draft, go back to the beginning and analyze every scene.  First ask:

  • Have I created the right kind of Scene? Is it an Action or ReAction scene?  Define your goals, conflict, disaster, or your response, dilemma, decision.
  • Have I build in Tension? Remember your equation! Sympathetic Character + Stakes + Goals + Obstacle + Fear of Failure  (for premium members, check out these past articles on creating tension in your scenes:

http://www.mybooktherapy.com/what-is-scene-tension/

http://www.mybooktherapy.com/creating-scene-tension/

  •  Have I built in enough Storyworld?          

            Do I have the NEWS of the scene – Who, What, When, Where and Why?

            Do I have the 5 senses?

            Have I created a mood with the use of my 5 senses, the verbs and nouns I use?

  •  Have I used the right POV? (Point of View). Would the scene have more impact if it was in a different POV?  (remember, write it in the POV of the person who had the most to lose).
  •  Do I have enough Dialogue in the scene?  Dialogue moves a story and creates tension. If you have even one page without Dialogue, insert something – a remembered conversation, a phone conversation, even a letter or journal entry to create another voice.

Have you created sparks with your dialogue?  If it feels tired and expected, have your character say something they shouldn’t – that should cause some tension!

  • Have I created Emotion through Action?  Give your character something to do, and have it convey his emotions. What does the character do because of the way he/she feels? 

“And here’s the biggest question:  Have I glossed over moments in my rush to get to the end of the scene?  Have I allowed my reader to experience every important nuance of the scene?  Slow it down.  Describe the scene.  Take your time.  Your character will still go off the cliff – you are just helping the reader understand how dangerous it is and how hard he tries to stop it.

“And, speaking of cliffs – DON’T FORGET TO END YOUR SCENE WITH A NEW PROBLEM!!  (premium members check out:  http://www.mybooktherapy.com/conversations-keeping-your-reader-hooked-through-every-chapter/)

“The mark of a great novelist is their ability to draw you into the world they see and allow you to feel it with the character.”

Sally was smiling now.

“Feel better?”

“Yes.  It’s like I finally get to read the story I’ve written.”

“Exactly. You’ve done the hard work of building the house.  Now this is the fun part –  decorating.”

“Just in time for Christmas.”

Truth:  Your first draft of your story just builds the story foundation.  Even if you are a “punster” you’ll need to go back and add in the rich details and layers to make your story satisfying.

Dare:  Finish your fast-draft, then go back and allow yourself time to rebuild, decorate and savor the story you’ve written.

Happy Writing!

Susie May

P.S. By the way, if you sign up for the daily Flashblog reminder in your email box, you receive the 5 Elements of a Best-Selling
Novel. A quick class on those foundational elements every editor is looking for! Sign up at: http://forms.aweber.com/form/35/866611135.htm

P.P.S. As you might already know, MBT is now offering a PREMIUM membership with access to our full library, advanced teaching through webinars and video talk shows and a monthly advanced class. For more info, check out: www.mybooktherapy.com/join-the-team/.

Conversations: Walking your Hero onto the page

“Today, you write,” I said to Sally as she plunked down her bag. She appeared frazzled today, her blonde hair pulled back into a frizzy ponytail, and she wasn’t wearing makeup.

“Good, because I need some writing therapy,” she said as she sat down on the chair.  “After week with the kids home from school, it’s time to escape.  In fact, I might have already started.”  She handed me four pages of her manuscript.  “It’s the first scene.”

I scanned it.  “No, it’s not,” I said.  “It’s a smattering if the first scene and a lot of backstory,”  I handed it back to her. “But it’s a great start.  And you’ve done what I would have suggested you do – sit down and start writing that first scene.  I expected you to do just this – start telling the story, loaded in with backstory and narrative about your hero.”

“But isn’t that information important? Like knowing where he went to college, and his job, and why he went into the military, and how he wants to be a doctor, but he can’t afford the training, so he is a medic?”

“Yes, it’s important…later in the story.  And that’s what we’re going to talk about today – delivering your hero or heroine to the page in a way that makes them seem alive and three-dimensional.  Your goal here is to let your character walk onto the page fully formed, thinking and acting as if you suddenly dropped in on him in the middle of his day.

“Consider this.  I saw you walk into today, and even though I didn’t know what your life was like this week, your demeanor and appearance told me you’d had a rough week.  If I were writing this, in your POV, I might have said.  “She just wanted one hour without the kids hanging on her.  Sally slid into the chair at the coffee table and managed to untangle her bag from her shoulder, realizing she still had enough kid supplies to last her  and her brood stranded by the side of the road for a week. Real business-like. She’d have to figure out how to balance her four kids, a tired husband and her decade long hope of being published.  She slid into the chair and took out her notebook, pushing away the thought of the mounds of laundry at home. For this hour, her time belonged to her.”

“That sounds about right.”

“Now, if you were a reader, you’d know a few things about Sally. She is married, her kids demand a lot from her, and she has some conflicting values between writing and mothering.  We also know that she is pursuing a life-long dream. We don’t really need to know any more than that – and it’s told through her eyes as she walks in.  I can teach you some storyworld techniques later to layer in her emotion, but for now, think of it like this.

As you walk into the scene, you’re in your character’s head.  Everything your characters sees, thinks, and feels filters through her POV.  Your job as the author is simply to BE that character.  Don’t tell us what the character is thinking, just think it.  Don’t tell us what they feel, just react to it.  Open your mouth and speak and let the character come alive.

“Think about it; do you know someone from their bio, or from experience the journey with them?  This is what you’re offering your reader as you open your story – a taste of the journey and an invitation to come along.

“You’ll give them a hint at what is at stake, and the kind of person they’ll spend time with, and even the goal and main problem you want to solve, but that’s all.  Don’t bog us down with a bio about your character and who he is – which is what you wrote in this first scene – get us into the story.

Here’s a tip – if you feel you have to write the bio for the sake of understanding the character, that’s fine. Just start the story in chapter two, then file chapter one in the “for the author only” file.  Your story starts when your character stops explaining who he is and what he’s done to this point and gets up and begins to engage in the journey.”

She nodded.  “I think I get it.”

“Now here’s a few things you need to get across in the first chapter. First, we need to know who your character is   – and what I mean by that is, what is personality is, what he believes about himself, and life, and what he wants.  You do this through his mannerisms, what he says, what he thinks and how he treats the situation he is in.  This is showing and is the best way to get the story across. Oh, and don’t make him perfect – he has to have a flaw and a fear is he is going to be real.  Something that comes from  his dark moment, and fueled by his greatest fear. By the way – you need to do the same thing with the heroine.”

She was looking at her manuscript, circling things, crossing out others.  “I think I understand.  It’s like I’m just starting the story on the day of his life, cutting into the action, not introducing him like he was speaking at a seminar and then opening the story.”

“Yes.  Remember, you’ve already done the hard work of character creation – figuring out their identity, their dark wound, their happiest moment, and all the added character elements about him.  Now, you just need to let him walk onto the page. Next week, we’ll talk about the two different kind of romance structure.  Now….go write.”

Truth:  Your character needs to walk onto the page without any backstory baggage to get the story going quickly, and you do this best by getting in the skin of your character.

Dare:  Try writing the scene without any backstory at all.  When you’re finished, hand it to a friend and only answer the backstory questions they have at the end with some line of inner thought or dialogue information.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a little trick (or challenge) to helping your character be unique from all his friends on the page!

Happy Writing!

Susie May

P.S.  Would you like 24-hour all access to the Team Member Locker room and all the perks of the MBT Team Membership? Sign up for Thursday night’s MBT Open House and get the next 24 hours free!  Sign up HERE and you’ll get your access registration link on Thursday morning.