Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dreams & Deceptions Book Trailer

This site is the MacKenna Saga, but so far I posted a lot about writing and not much about The Saga. 

The series I've been working on, is finally ready to see daylight. The first book Dreams & Deceptions is due out in the next 90 days. I will be trying to release the next book Plots and Prophecies 90 days after that, then keep going until the series is complete

It's in final proof read at this time to check for any typos or glaring errors. It will be released on so it will downloadable in most E reader formats.  and in paperback through NewLink Publishing (Website Down at this time for relocation and maintenance) 

In the meantime Standby Studios created a short trailer as a preview. Click on the link below, enjoy, and please let me know what you think.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A contrast: The State of Illinois vs Oklahoma

These two e-mails are combines, the first about Illinois and the second about Oklahoma. Together they make an make an interesting contrast . . .

"A State with No Republicans!" Makes ya wanna move there, doesn't it? (Not!) 
The Great State of Illinois- A wonderful state with zero Republicans. 

Part  1 ---ILLINOIS

Some interesting data on the State of Illinois ... There are more people on welfare in Illinois than there are people working.  Chicago pays the highest wages to teachers than anywhere else in the U.S. averaging $110,000/year. Their pensions average 80-90% of their income.  Wow, are Illinois and Chicago great or what?  Be sure to read till the end.  I've neve heard it explained better.  Perhaps the U.S. should pull out of Chicago?  Body count: In the last six months, 292 killed (murdered) in Chicago.  221 killed in Iraq. Be aware Chicago has one of the strictest gun laws in the entire US.

Here's the Chicago chain of command: President: Barack Hussein Obama · Senator: Dick Durbin · House Representative: Jesse Jackson Jr. · Governor: Pat Quinn · House leader: Mike Madigan · Atty. Gen.: Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike) ·  Mayor: Rohm Emanuel · The leadership in Illinois - all Democrats. · Thank you for the combat zone in Chicago. · Of course, they're all blaming each other. · Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any! · Chicago school system rated one of the worst in the country.  Can't blame  Republicans; there aren't any!

State pension fund $78 Billion in debt, worst in country. Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any!
Cook County (Chicago) sales tax 10.25% highest in country.  Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any!

This is the political culture that Obama comes from in Illinois.  And he's going to 'fix' Washington politics for us?

George Ryan is no longer Governor, he is in prison.

He was replaced by Rob Blagoyavic who is, that's right, also in prison.

And Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned a couple of weeks ago, because he is fighting to not be sent to...that's right, prison.

The Land of Lincoln, where our governors make our license plates. What?

As long as they keep providing entitlements to the population of Chicago, nothing is going to change, except the state will go broke before the country does.

"Anybody who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the Government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian."
                                           Don’t forget Detroit, another good example…


OKLAHOMA - may soon have plenty of new residents!

Oklahoma is the only state that Obama did not win even one county in the last election...  While everyone is focusing on Arizona’s new law, look what Oklahoma has been doing!!!

An update from Oklahoma:

Oklahoma law passed, 37 to 9 an amendment to place the Ten Commandments on the front entrance to the state capitol. The feds in D.C., along with the ACLU, said it would be a mistake. Hey this is a conservative state, based on Christian values... HB 1330

Guess what... Oklahoma did it anyway.

Oklahoma recently passed a law in the state to incarcerate all illegal immigrants, and ship them back to where they came from unless they want to get a green card and become an American citizen. They all scattered.  HB 1804.  This was against the advice of the Federal Government, and the  ACLU, they said it would be a mistake.

Guess what... Oklahoma did it anyway.

Recently we passed a law to include DNA samples from any and all illegal's to the Oklahoma database, for criminal investigative purposes.  Madam Pelosi said it was unconstitutional SB 1102

Guess what... Oklahoma did it anyway.

Several weeks ago, we passed a law, declaring Oklahoma a Sovereign state, not under the Federal Government directives.  Joining Texas, Montana and Utah as the only states to do so.

More states are likely to follow: Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia,  Carolina’s,  Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, West Virginia, Mississippi and Florida. Save your confederate money, it appears the South is about to rise up once again.  HJR 1003

The federal Government has made bold steps to take away our guns.   Oklahoma, last summer, passed a law confirming people in this State have the right to open carry, in addition to previously passed concealed carry, and transport them in their vehicles.  I'm sure that was a setback for the criminals.  The Liberals didn't like it -- But....

Guess what... Oklahoma did it anyway.

Recently, the state has voted and passed a law that ALL drivers’ license exams will be printed in English, and only English, and no other language.  They have been called racist for doing this, but the fact is that ALL of the road signs are in English only.  If you want to drive in Oklahoma, you must read and write English.  Really simple.

By the way, the Liberals don't like any of this either

Guess what... who cares...  Oklahoma is doing it anyway.

If you like it, pass it on, if you don't then delete it...  Thanks

Guess what: the people I'm sending this to, will send it on.  Well, at least the ones who love and believe in freedom will.  Most of the ones who voted for Obama would have voted for "Jack the Ripper" if he had been black — the absolute epitome of racism in America.

  In God We Trust

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Three sets of words that are easily confused

Our language is in constant flux. Today’s I’m discussing three sets of words that are easily confuse:  All together: (as two words). Altogether”(single word). All ready (as two words).  Already (single word). All right” (as two words). Alright” (single word). I’ll explain why one of the six is not a real word. All Together, and Altogether, let’s tackle the easy stuff first, words that really are words.

All Together and  AltogetherReal words. The first pair is, All together, and Altogether. The two-word phrase, all together,  means “collectively”, Everyone is doing something all in one place all or at once, i.e., “We sang the Christmas carols all together.”

If you like, you can break up this two-word saying, as in “We all sang the Christmas carols together.” “Altogether,” spelled as one word, means entirely, as in “She’s altogether too tired to continue.” You certainly can’t do the separation trick here. “She’s all too tired together. Again, it doesn’t make sense.

All Ready and Already 

Real words. The second pair of often-confused words is, All ready, and  Already”. “All ready” used as two words means connotes preparedness i.e., “The pies are all ready to be eaten.” You can separate the two words and the sentence still makes sense: “All the pies are ready to be eaten.”  Already, used as a single word is concerned with time; it means, previously, i.e. “I can’t believe you ate the pies already.” As with altogether, as a single word, you cannot do the separation trick, and say, “I can’t believe you ate all the pies ready.” That doesn’t make sense.

All Right and Alright
One of these is not like the other. We’ve come to the third pair of words. At the beginning, I said one of the words isn’t a real word. Is it “all right” as two words or “alright” as a single word? In his book Lapsing Into a Comma, grammarian Bill Walsh puts it this way. “We word nerds have known since second grade that alright is not all right. He’s talking about Alright being used as one word, and it’s not okay. Another style guide agrees, saying that “alright” (as a single word) is a misspelling of all right, which means, satisfactory, permissible, or adequate.”

 You might hear the two-word phrase in sentences such as these: “His cooking was just all right” or “Is it all right if I wait in the car?” It seems pretty simple: go ahead and use “all right” as two words, and stay away from “alright” the one word.”

 As always you’ll find other opinions and contradictions. The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style is one book that seems to contradict itself. It states that “alright” as one word “has never been accepted as standard. It  goes on to explain that “all right” as two words and “alright” as one word have two distinct meanings. It gives the example of the sentence “The totals are all right.” When you use “all right” as two words, the sentence means “the figures are all accurate.” When you write, “The totals are alright.”,  this source explains that the sentence means  “the figures are satisfactory.” I’m not sure what to make of this contradiction, but Bryan Garner, the esteemed
lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher notes this,  “alright” as one word, may be gaining a shadowy acceptance in British English. (As in the word Toward and Towards. Toward is the accepted usage in American English. Towards is the British usage.) I checked other grammar sources, including a large dictionary and they all reject “alright” as one word.

 As I stated earlier, language is always in flux, so perhaps “alright” as one word is gaining a small footing. Some of you may get confused about how to use each of the. It’s just a matter of remembering what each phrase or word means. If you tend to forget, just use the dictionary to check the spelling, and remember at the present time, “alright” as one word is currently not acceptable English, though it may become so in the future

Friday, October 18, 2013

Omniscient Point of View

Omniscient Point of View

The omniscient POV is most closely associated with nineteenth century novels. Simply put is the author saying to the reader, Let me tell you a story.” Omniscience, means "all knowing,". The authors of these novels allow a third person narrator to assume godlike powers.
1) They know everything about the characters and can enter the minds of any one of them, whenever they choose.

2) They can enter the minds of the cat on the windowsill and the spider in the barn also.

3) They know everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, and they have complete freedom to move through time in any direction.

4) They also have complete freedom to move through space - and so they can move from one room to another (and back again) in the middle of a scene, or to the other side of town, or even to the other side of the world one hundred years ago.

When using an Omniscient POV, new writers believe anything goes, it doesn’t. Some writer assume (wrongly so) that head jumping is an omniscient viewpoint. While I agree with Science fiction author Nancy Kress’ statement: "Writers are gods. We get to create entire worlds, populate them, and even...destroy them. Of course, writers can do this in any viewpoint, but omniscient point of view adds another layer to the process." The omniscient POV can be annoying, especially when it’s mishandled.  

Head Hopping Verses Omniscient POV

As stated before some writers head hop (jumping from character to character in a scene) and try to pass it off as Third Person Omniscient.

In my post on Third Person Multi, I uses the detective in the interrogation room. Let take that and turn it into a Third Person Omniscient. 

Detective Fay laced her fingers together, propped her elbows on the silver table and leaned forward. Tapping her lower lip with her thumbs, she eyed the emaciated man across from her. The interview room, set up only for interrogations, had no paintings on the walls and nothing adorning the tabletop between the Detective and her suspect. The new, enlarged two-way mirror, sat in the wall directly behind her head. She'd been chasing this jackal for months and all Fay wanted now was his confession.

"So Charlie, let’s go over this again. Where were you on the evening of November 26th?"

Charlie’s eyed widened for brief second before he dropped his stone mask in place. He opened his mouth then clamped it shut again. Detective Fay’s stared bored into the man and caused Charlie’s fear level to shoot up like the temperature on an August afternoon in Phoenix.

Charlie baulked. He didn't know what Detective Fay had on him, but a sudden claustrophobic feeling tightened the knot in his gut. Fay had him cornered and he knew wasn’t leaving here without a brand new, shiny set of bracelets decorating his wrists.

The narrator’s telling the story, it may be Fay’s boss, her husband, or a reported close to the police department. The narrator is telling us what going on and the only time we hear from the characters is in their dialogue. 

Now take head hopping.

Detective Fay laced her fingers together, propped her elbows on the silver table and leaned forward. Tapping her lower lip with her thumbs, she eyed the emaciated man across from her. I’ve been chasing this jackal for months. The interview room, set up for interrogations, had no paintings on the walls and nothing adorning the tabletop between them. I know he did it. The new, enlarged two-way mirror, sat directly behind her head. All I need is this cold bastard’s confession. "So Charlie, let’s go over this again. Where were you on the evening of November 26th?"

Charlie opened his mouth then clamped it shut again. What  could she have found? His eye widened for brief second. I cleaned up real good. I never miss anything. His stone mask settled into place as Detective Fay’s stared bored into him. In spite his best efforts, Charlie could feel his fear level shooting up like the temperature on an August afternoon in Phoenix. What-the-hell has she got? A sudden claustrophobic feeling tightened the knot in his gut. I can get out of this, she hasn't got me cornered. I’m leaving here without that shiny set of bracelets she’s been wanting to decorate my wrists with.

That’s a simple scene, but from who’s POV. It’s neither Charlie’s nor is it Detective Fay’s, and there is no narrator. We jump from head to head and never really know who is telling the story. If it’s Charlie, do I really what to read a book where the cold blooded murder is the protagonist. If Detective Fay’s is the protagonist then I want to remain in her POV and let interaction and reactions to Charlie fill in his character for me.

Does Omniscient Point of View Have a Place Today? 

Yes, but not much of one. It has all but disappeared, due to readers' changing tastes. As readers have grown more sophisticate they demand stories told from a First Person POV or a Third Person Multiple POV. The want to be drawn into the story and try to imagine the characters and setting in their own minds, not have a narrator lay out the characters and the story for them. 

However, if nineteenth century omniscient point of view novels are your thing and you think you can write a twenty-first century version, go for it. Just be aware of two things:

1.Technically, it is a most demanding viewpoint to use. You will really have to know what you’re doing to write a third person omniscient novel and not look amateurish. It’s the sign of a novice, or a lazy amateur when they claim to understand the POV and then you read their story and realize just how badly they've mishandle the entire manuscript. The irony is that most of the time, the author, he or she is unaware they've has done so.

2.Giving omniscience a modern twist is imperative. And the way to do that is to use your narrator’s more subtly than did our nineteenth century counterparts. A very similar effect to omniscience can be achieved with a more conventional Third Person Multiple Viewpoint novel.

As I stated earlier, the neutral narrator of such a novel is, "godlike" - and this neutral, godlike narrator had the ability to slip in and out of the bodies and minds of any number of viewpoint characters as they tell the story.

So the question is this.

What Sets a Third Person "Omniscient" Narrator Apart?

The omniscient narrator's voice will be far from neutral. The Omniscient Narrator can be as visible and as in-your-face to the readers as the author wants.

In H.G. Wells, ‘The Time Machine’, the narrator thought about the Time Traveller so along these lines. 

“I think at the time none of us quite believed in the time machine. The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men to clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all around him, you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness.”

As you can tell the narrator isn't exactly holding back with an attitude and the opinion. The neutral narrator of a standard third person novel could never write a sentence like that. It’s just not acceptable

Not only can omniscient narrators share their attitudes and opinions and comments with the readers, they can actually address the readers directly. I have made up the following lines, but they are typical of what you would find in a nineteenth century novel.

So you see, dear reader, had Filby shown us the model and explained the matter in the Time Traveller’s words, we should have shown him far less scepticism.

In case you were wondering, as late as the 1920 & 1930 this POV was still in use in Science Fiction and Early Fantasy Fiction novels. I've read a few when I was a young, bored sailor on duty or stuck on ship with the duty weekend and found them engrossing. If I try reading them now, I can’t get passed the first chapter

Why would anyone want to write a novel in this way, or why would any reader want to read it? Simply put, a well written, opinionated narrator's telling of the story can be as entertaining as the story itself.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Third Person Multiple POV

Writers have different styles. Some write in the past tense while others in the present tense. A few use adverbs in abundance, while others may cringe at the use of even one. However, one of the biggest factors in identifying a writer's style is your choice of point-of-view (POV).

First, second, and third person views are different POVs at a writers disposal. But it goes a little further than that, POVs can be subdivided even further. This includes third person, multiple views, omniscient, subjective, and objective. I’d like to focus on the use of the third person POV with multiple characters views—Third Person Multiple POV.

As a writer you’ll find there are advantage and disadvantages in using the third person multiple POV. One benefit is the ability of the author to move the reader into each of your characters' heads. You give your readers an in-depth look at those who normally may not have the chance to give their input and move your camera so the scene(s) is(are) viewed through their eyes. Third person multiple POV provides the opportunity to grow a character every time you get in their head. The reader learns first-hand not just why the character is doing something, but what they're motivation is for acting a certain way. Your reader gets very intimate with the characters as they are privy to their thoughts.

Author Raymond E Fiest uses multiple third person POV with great success in his Fantasy Fiction series, The Rift War Saga. His readers are able to follow the lives of multiple protagonist. They follow Pug and Thomas as their lives unfold and watch what drives them both to make the decisions they do. The reader will be in the head Thomas as he grows to fulfill his childish brag of marrying the Queen of the Elves. They also follow Pug from orphan to inept magician’s apprentice, to capture slave, and finally to an all powerful, master magician. As a skilled author Fiest lets he readers get to know them as an individuals, and they learn about the character on a level different from they would have had he not used this POV. As a matter-of-fact, due to the characters separation at times by great distances it is the only way that this story could be handled

I’m not a big reader of romance novels, but third person multiple is frequently used in this writing genre. You can quickly recognize the style by the author’s use of the pronouns she and he. Romance authors like to use this POV as it's extremely helpful in watching the relationship building between both the heroine and the hero unfold. Romances are intimate by nature, and the use of third person multiple POV allows the reader to get intimately involved with each character as the attraction grows between them.

The skill to mastering third person multiple POV is not complicated, but there is a trick. A lot of novice writers sometimes try and use this technique, get confused, break POV rules, and wind up losing their readers. Head-hopping and multiple third person POV often get mixed up when they are in-fact two entirely separate matters.

Multiple third person POV rules require the author to stay in the one characters' head for an entire scene to maintain the proper POV. The rules involve writing a separate scenes from the viewpoints of each of the characters. Thus we cannot relay to the reader the thoughts of suspect Charlie while in the head of detective Fay.

The following passage, I hope will make this clear. The antagonist Charlie is the prime suspect in the murderer and the protagonist is Police Detective Johanna Fay:

Detective Fay laced her fingers together, propped her elbows on the silver table and leaned forward. Tapping her lower lip with her thumbs, she eyed the emaciated man across the table from her. The interview room, set up for interrogations, had no paintings on the walls and nothing adorning the tabletop between them. The new, enlarged two-way mirror, sat directly behind her head. She'd been chasing this jackal for months and all Fay wanted now was his confession.

"So Charlie, let’s go over this again. Where were you on the evening of November 26th?"

Charlie’s eyes widened for brief second before his stone mask dropped back in place. He opened his mouth the promptly clamped it shut again. Detective Fay’s stare bored into the man and Charlie’s fear levels spiked.

Charlie balked. He didn't know what Detective Fay had on him, but a sudden claustrophobic feeling tightened the knot in his gut. He realized he might not make it out of here without a brand new, shiny set of bracelets decorating his wrists.

Did you spot the POV shifts? There's two:
1) "Charlie’s fear levels spiked."
2) Charlie balked. He didn't know what Detective Fay had on him, but a sudden claustrophobic feeling tightened the knot in his gut. He realized he might not make it out of here without a brand new, shiny set of bracelets decorating his wrists.

I've spoken with new writers who can’t see the problem. They’ll say, “I’m telling this story and I need the reader to see what’s Charlie’s feeling and thinking.” Even when you explain that because Detective Fay is the POV character for scene, she can't tell what Charlie is thinking or feeling unless Charlie tell her, it doesn't hit home. This is a common POV error and one novice writers make time and again. (Myself included when I set out to write.)

Another common error writers make when using multiple third person is switching POV characters too often within a chapter. Some writers use Third Person Multiple POV as an excuse to enter the heads of several different characters in one scene. My co-author and I have a hard and fast rule, one POV character per chapter or scene. In Tyranny’s Outpost we have five viewpoint characters, Elise, Russ, Alex, Callin and Marga.

Our hierarchy for character priority has turned out like this. Elise our primary protagonist and the POV character for any scene she’s in. If Elise isn't in a chapter  Russ becomes the POV character. Alex has a scene that could only be written from his POV, since he’s alone on a hospital room. As our primary antagonist, scenes feature Callin’s POV. In our second book Tyranny’s Prisoner, when Alex and Callin or Alex and Marga are in a scene it falls to Alex’s POV. This is where show don’t tell becomes vital. Elise knows Russ very well so she can intrepid his looks and actions and we keep Russ cocky nature in the readers mind by showing what Elise sees and by her own internal thought. Most of the time we change chapters to shift POV characters, but on several occasions we've used scene breaks to alert our readers to a change.

There's no set rule about how long any particular scene should be for any of your characters, but switching back and forth too quickly can confuse your readers. If you find yourself shifting heads more than two or three times in a scene, there might be a problem, and you might want to take a step back to see which character will benefit the scene the most, and then rewrite the scene to hold that one person's POV. An easy rule of thumb is, One POV Character for One Scene. Any more marks you as a beginner or novice.

An important part of maintaining third person multiple POV is to make sure each of your characters is different enough so that the reader doesn't confuse him or her with a different character. This falls under the authors first responsibility, character building, than POV, but it's a very important point to keep in mind. Make sure all your characters have original and distinct traits. Giving each of them very different backgrounds, jobs, ages, and personalities is a beginning.

Why use multiple third person POV?

1) You give your readers the opportunity to learn what drives your characters. To see what makes they do things they may do.

2) You don't want your readers getting bored. This POV keeps up the tension, and lets you shift heads to keep your  reader on their toes.

3) From main characters to secondary ones, you the author broadens the scope of who should be included in the story.

4) Keeps the story’s pace moving. Your plot has to move along at a pace that keeps  your reader wanting to turn the page to the scene or the next chapter. Changing POV character gives your story momentum.

3) You offer your readers the diverseness of watching you antagonist plot his/her crimes while still letting them see what drives the hero or heroine.

How can you make third person multiple POV work for you?

1) Watch the amount of POV shifts you make. Make sure you stay with the character that give your scene the most impact and stay in their POV. Using Character priority will help.

2) Limit the number of  POV characters in your book. Too many POVs characters can end up confusing your readers. Your story can include many different characters, but limit the number of head changes in your manuscript. Quirks, habits and personalities of minor characters can be seen through you POV characters.

3) Make your scene changes clear. If you have to change POVs characters in the middle of the scene, make it clear that you've changed. Continuity when changing scenes is vital. Your story must pick up where the last scene left off. If I had placed a scene cut after Detective Fay asked Charlie her question, I would have written it to pick up immediately with Bill thinking of a clever answer to get him out of his predicament.

•If you're a beginning author who is trying out multiple third person POV for the first time, choose which characters are most important to your story. Stick to their heads and switch only when there's a need. Don't switch characters just to add their thoughts!  The result will be confusion for your reader.

•Keep your story focused. Just because you're giving the view of multiple characters doesn't take away your need to maintain a good pace. Character priority will give each character the weight they need to move the story while keeping them separate in your readers mind.

An author who can master third person multiple POV will wind up with a compelling story. Getting your readers into the heads of your characters can help your readers love them almost as much as you, the author who created them does. Remember to keep a strong grasp on how you’ve paced your novel and discipline yourself to the number of different views you use. I believe you’ll find that third person multiple can be a great tool for any author's toolbox.

Is Using First Person a Bad Idea?

Sometimes, writing in first person will be exactly the right choice for a novel. Whatever your reasons for choosing first person point of view might be, if you truly believe it is the best way to tell your story, than by all means follow your instincts. So long as you are aware of the limitations of the voice, and you are happy to work within those limitations, you will be fine.

“With whatever viewpoint and voice you choose, you should exploit the possibilities of the viewpoint and voice you have chosen rather than feel constrained by its limitations.”
- James N. Frey author of internationally best selling books on the craft of fiction writing.

•If your viewpoint character has a quirky and compelling voice, for example, and a unique (and subjective) way of looking at the world - like Huckleberry Finn and Forrest Gump - 1st person point of view is the viewpoint for you.

Perhaps you really don't get all this, “moving the camera around business.” You simply want to tell an intimate story through one character’s eyes (First Person).

Are you still unsure at this point which viewpoint to use? A question then. Can you see your novel working equally well in both first and third person? Then my advice would be to go with the third person point of view. Whereas a large majority of novels written by beginners use the first person viewpoint, a large majority of published novels are written in third person point of view.

Of course, a very similar effect to omniscience can be achieved with a more conventional 3rd person Multiple Viewpoint Novel.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

First Person Versus Third Person POV

The entire Third Person verses First Person debate can present any beginning novel writers with what may seem as insurmountable problems.

An author could write two versions of his or her novel - First in third person POV, and then in first person- and either would be acceptable, though they would be very different stories. The irony of fiction writing is that you can always change your mind. John Irving, the American novelist (I'm not a fan his or this novels, but this is case in point) wrote his early drafts of Until I Find You in the first person. Not until a much later draft did he shift the thousand page novel to third person point of view,  pare it down to eight hundred and twenty one pages and release it. Changing the POV in a novel that large is a lot of work.

If you have read any comprehensive information looking for advantages of first person over third person, you’ve  probably more or less come to a conclusion on about which viewpoint is right for your own novel. If you’re a movie buff like me writing a novel is like having a camera you point for the reader and display your story. The reason for this summary is to help you make up your mind about how you want to direct your novel.

What Is The Best Viewpoint? 

You are far from wrong, if you believe I’m writing this to convince any writer straddling the line between the two POV’s, to jump to one side or the other. I like both, thought I write from the third person side, I’m experimenting with a murder mystery in first person POV.

Taking into consideration all pros and cons, they seem to come out overwhelmingly in favor of using third person point of view for most novels.

First person POV is generally considered an easier viewpoint to handle, but, as the old song goes ‘It ain’t necessarily so’. Once you’ve master the theory behind each viewpoint, there’s nothing really difficult about either of them.

First person is noticeably more intimate than third person. Sue Grafton handles her Kinsey Milhone character masterfully using the first person POV. Likewise John D. MacDonald steered Travis McGee through his troubled waters in the first person. (I like the fact that both authors stuck to themes for their titles. Sue uses the alphabet for her titles: A is for Alibi,  B is for Burglar, etc. Likewise John D McDonald (1916-1986) used a color in his Travis McGee titles: Nightmare in Pink, The Empty Copper Sea, One Fearful Yellow Eye. I know I've pointed these out before.)

It is certainly possible to replicate first person intimacy while writing in third person. Third person is more imminent than first person - even using past tense, a well written third person POV doesn't destroy the illusion of the story taking place in the here and now. This shouldn't be a deterrent if you’re dead-set on writing your novel in first person. Third person isn't as confining as first person can be. Using third person point of view gives you the greatest freedom as a storyteller, in the sense that you can move your "view point camera" around a lot more than in a first person POV story. In first person your camera is fixed behind the viewpoint character's eyes throughout your entire story. Third person and it is more objective, also, giving any writer the ability to present a more rounded portrait of their central character.

Monday, October 7, 2013


This post is about using (overusing) adverbs in narrative not in dialogue.
While adverbs have their place, (even in narrative) beginners tend to use them to far to often, and established authors use them because they know they can get away with it. When it comes to adverb usage, the rules doe all should be:

1.) Omit the adverb if it doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.

2.) Adverb usage means you’re not using a strong enough verb.

3.) If the adverb passes these two tests, you should keep it

Fast food employees need rules to do their job, but we're writers, we aren’t flipping burgers. We need to know the "Why?" or we get cooked (Rejected).

Before you send those hard worked pages of your novel to an agent or publisher for consideration, follow the adverb rules listed above. If you do some soul searching and honest reflection you'll find 99% of adverbs (even the most judiciously (lol) place ones), to an editor sound like nails on a chalkboard. You've played by the rules, yet in all honesty your adverbs failed the test. There has to be more to this adverb thing.

Why, you ask? Why this unnecessary prejudice against the lowly adverb? After your adverb-soul-searching I just spoke of, you'll find these three reasons to avoid adverbs helpful.

Reason 1
The use of any adverb may be a strong indicator of some contextual problems surrounding it, so it becomes a form of telling, not showing. Whether you’re writing in 1st person or 3rd person, at some point in your story you provide the reader with descriptive narrative. One example is in describing a setting the character is in, entering , or going to enter. Even if you have an adverb in the scene that passes all the rules, pull out from the sentence and ask yourself  "Am I doing a good enough job with the narration."  It’s possible you’re not painting the picture you want. What you need is a brush stroke, not a touch up. The adverb is a bandage for bad exposition.

Reason 2
The adverb may be an indicator of a point of view issue. This was a problem for many scenes for my co-author me. Our first book, written twenty years ago and recently pick up by a publisher, had many weak passages. We were confused until we realized we needed a tighter POV. (Pounded into our head by our publisher Show - Don't tell.) Twenty years ago we felt the adverbs conveyed the feelings of the scenes central character. Once we understood the problem, the adverbs disappeared and our scenes are much better.

Reason 3 Once you see the difference you'll understand how adverbs distance the connection between the reader and your characters, not enhance it. As writers there's a tendency to use adverbs because we feel we're heightening the reader experience, but in fact, once you take an honest look, most of the time the opposite is true.

(True Story) Take this excerpt from the first scene in a novel. The widower's young son wakes from a terrifying nightmare. The father enter the room and quiets him.

He hugged his weeping son, kissed his forehead, then gently rocked him back to sleep.

The adverb "gently" sounds like a good adverb. You would think so. The editor struck down. Your first thought is, that would remove the meaning. But in fact, the loss of the adverb enhances the scene.

He hugged his weeping son, kissed his forehead, then rocked him back to sleep.

By omitting the adverb "gently", it forces the reader to imagine the scene. And this, my dear writer, is what you want the reader to do. You want them to engage, to empathize and imagine. You want them to become your character. If you modify your verbs to tell the reader exactly what is going on, you keep them arms length and they never become invested in the character or your story.

At the Las Vegas writers conference an agent told us "If I find more then three adverbs in three hundred words I stop and send it back".