“Sure You’ll Help Me…Right off a Cliff…”

“Helpful” seems like it should be a simple concept. But it’s not. It always astounds me how some people use helpfulness to mask their own self-serving agenda. Okay, okay. As human beings, we all have that little monster of selfishness that wants everything to come back to us.

I’ve heard this mantra of writers helping writers all over social media. And a lot of them truly mean what they say. But some people just talk the talk and never follow through. And others follow through with the best intentions but end up doing more harm than good.

So I thought I’d share my Helping Authors Manifesto. It’s in progress, of course. My overall theme is Be Kind and Respectful. This list may grow or change. But for now, my manifesto addresses beta reading, reviewing, and general customer service!

When Beta Reading- I Will Be Honest and Respectful 

If I have agreed to beta read your project, then I will do my best to be helpful to you. I will try not to impose my personal writing style and preferences on you. I will try to leave my prejudices and biases at the door. But I will give honest feedback about plot holes, character development, and story craft issues.

When Reviewing a Book- I Will Show Courtesy 

As a principle, I review the story itself. If there are formatting issues or typos, I like to treat the author how I would like to be treated and give them a chance to fix it. If it really is such a mess that it is distracting and/or the author doesn’t respond to me, I’ll put a comment in my review to be fair to potential readers.

I know how much work it takes to write a book. In all my reviews I purpose to bring out the best qualities of the work, even if I didn’t like it that much. But I also try to be honest about my reading experience. Technically a review is a personal opinion. But it’s not quite fair that the writer’s career hangs so heavily on the personal opinions of complete strangers. That doesn’t mean I will be dishonest. But there is a way to be tactful and to admit that other people have different taste and may enjoy the book.

Obviously, if I love the book I will praise it to the skies.

I Will Give the Author the Chance to Make it Right 

When dealing with self-published authors I am dealing with people, not corporations. If I have purchased a service and something goes wrong, I will reach out and give the author the chance to provide excellent customer service before resorting to other means (writing a negative review, or a negative post on social media).

What am I talking about? What if I ordered a print book and found the formatting was all off? I could go straight to Amazon and write a bad review. Or I could contact the author and explain the situation. As an author, I want my readers to have a good experience. As an author, I would replace that book for the customer.

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “They published it like this, so they need to take the consequences.” I don’t want to have that attitude. I want to have the attitude of, “They are an author just like me and maybe I can help them in this area.”

One time I changed the file for my ebook and published it to KDP. The proof copy showed everything was perfect. But there was an error on Amazon’s part and the proof was wrong! For almost two weeks, my ebook had flaws that I thought had been corrected. I was horrified when I found out. I got the issue straightened out. But I would have loved a kind person to have sent me a quick e-mail saying, “Hey…just wanted to let you know that there were some weird formatting things happening on this page…”

The author may listen, the author may not listen. But I want to be that person for other authors.

I recognize that the indie publishing scene is super lopsided right now. Some indie authors spend hundreds of dollars to make their books as professional as trad pub. Others don’t have those resources, or the knowledge and experience. But I think if we treat each other with courtesy and professionalism we will only benefit!

Why Life is Not Made of Magical Moments

I am not saying that magical moments don’t happen, or that they aren’t wonderful and worth holding onto. But they shouldn’t be what you live for.

Unfortunately, this is too often what films sell us. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that every film should hit us with the grim reality of life. I don’t have much taste for those films, either. And if you’ve read my blog at all you’ll know I am an advocate for using storyteller to instill hope in people. I love inspirational stories. But there is a difference between telling an inspirational story and telling a fluffy tale full of silver linings that gives people unrealistic expectations and makes them discontent with what they have.

Maybe I am the only one who’s struggled with this, but I used to think life was all about magical moments. Granted, there were some valleys in between those mountain tops, but they were just puddles to get through before experiencing LIFE. I have learned since that those puddles are life, too. And even though they can be hard and messy, they shouldn’t be despised.

There may be people out there whose lives really are a series of mountain tops. Congratulations, you are a rare species of unicorn. And I imagine you don’t want to waste much time watching movies because your life is so much more interesting. But for the rest of you out there I have a message for you:

There is beauty in the puddles, too. And to be clear I’m not talking about those artificial moments where the girl with the perfect hair, whose main problem in life is to choose between two beautiful men, has a moment of self-realization in the rain, accompanied by nostalgic music. That is only a shadow of true brokenness, and in truth it is still a magic movie moment. Because two minutes later she gets her happy ending. Real puddle moments are when you sob alone in a stairwell (and wipe your snot on your jeans because you don’t have tissues) and no one ever sees you. And then you stop crying, wipe your eyes, and keep going with life because that’s what has to be done. There is no hero music. And there is no one to rescue you.

Believe it or not, when I experienced those moments, I used to say to myself: if I can only get through this, I bet there is a magical moment coming soon. It can’t all be bad, right? But sometimes you go through years of nonstop bad and at the end there is no magical rainbow that makes it all okay, instead there is only “less-bad.”

So here’s my personal resolution: I am going to fight for the things that are important to me and live every day to the full, even if it is a puddle day. Then, if I happen to stumble upon a magical mountaintop moment, I will appreciate it all the more because it wasn’t expected. My life is not on pause, waiting for good things to happen. My life is happening right now in the messy, painful, but beautiful struggles of everyday life. Nobody may see them, and they may not be romantic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have meaning.

 

Why I Don’t Cater to Readers

Touchy subject, I know. Someday (maybe even soon) some well-educated writer will come along and explain to me why I’m wrong, and I’ll probably feel like an idiot. But for now I am going to share where I am at in this and why. I feel like I have good reasons…

I feel like it is very subtle propaganda sometimes…that message to cater to the audience. And I understand that if you are making your living this way you want something that sells. There is a bit of a supply and demand issue, even among the arts. But in my experience, entertainment that consistently caters to the audience inevitably sells itself short. Think of mainstream art and music (which can be admittedly satisfying) verses the masterpieces created by those artists who often don’t fit into society and pave their own way, ignoring conventions. And here we come to an important question:

What is your purpose in writing? Are you writing to make money? (Nothing wrong with that). Are you writing for fun? Are you writing to discover something new? Are you writing to communicate a specific message?

Some writers do cater to readers and they are very good at it and their novels are very good. In truth, I think most writers have a combination of reasons for writing. As I am growing in the craft I have found myself expanding and adventuring into new territory. At the heart my writing is very philosophical and personal: it is my search to understand and communicate the things I am learning about life. But more recently I have been attempting to step away from my usual style and tell a straightforward, entertaining story. That is probably the closest I have been to “catering to the readers” and the reason I struck so close was because I was catering to myself.

Now, I don’t want you to misunderstand. I am not writing thick, existential “mish mash” that no one could even understand beside myself. My writing has plot, adventure, good characters, and I believe (and have been told) is quite engaging. But when I am making choices about scenes, conflicts, and characters, I rarely ask what the reader would be thinking at this point. I have read a lot of writing advice (and this really is good advice for beginning writers) about how to make a page turner, or how to add more conflict and excitement. They talk about the “how could this situation be worse?” question. It’s definitely a valid tool, and one I use when I find a particular scene feels hollow. But I think there is too great a temptation to amp up every scene and interaction to get an adrenaline rush. It reminds me of the blockbuster action films that just keep adding bigger explosions and ridiculous odds every year because the audience would get bored otherwise.

That is not the writing I want to produce. My argument is that readers will still be interested characters and struggles that ring true whether or not they are big and dramatic. And as a reader, I respect a writer who takes me somewhere new.

One of the most precious things about books are the new perspectives they offer. And one of my goals as a writer is to pioneer those new perspectives for my reader.

My creative process looks a little like me forging a new path in the jungle with my machete, hacking off branches, attempting to follow the hint of a path that has formed in my mind. It is a process of discovery. Now when I reach the end, I go back and repair the path so that my readers can follow. Sometimes this means cutting scenes that I love because they slow the plot. So yes, sometimes it means catering to the readers. But to me that is far different than taking a bulldozer in on the first draft and plowing your way directly to the lake so the readers can ride in by the busload, sipping their lemonade.

Maybe that is a bad analogy ;P

My point is this: when I am in the middle of a draft, the characters and their journey is more important to me than whether or not my reader will like it. I think what I am saying is that the creative process needs to be somewhat independent of popular opinion: that is where true inspiration takes flight.

Hope I made some sense there. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Eve of New

I was going to write about whether or not to cater to readers, but then I realized I wanted to do a New Year’s Eve post! (So that one will come next week)

It’s here. The Eve of the New Year.

I love New Year’s. Where I grew up it was celebrated with fireworks, roman candles, and loud noise poppers that scared the last twelve months right out of you. It seems a bit more dull these days. But the anticipation is always there.

Time is an amazing thing to me. I have spent hours contemplating it and even wrote a couple philosophical papers on it. (E-mail me if you’re interested in reading them lol) I think it is strange that we have such a rigid construct which affects our perspective of it. Why is December 31st the last day of the year? Is there really something firm and tangible that separates one year from another? Doesn’t time flow evenly? But I suppose it is helpful to our little human minds to have an end and a beginning. I know that it is helpful to me.

Sometimes you get stuck in those seasons that seem to never end…unemployment, difficult family members, difficult friends, grief, frustrating jobs…Sometimes there is no end in sight. Sometimes I think the only way we can bear it is to have endings and beginnings in other areas of our lives.

And so no matter what your job situation is, or no matter what your family is going through, or no matter what struggles you are facing, I am here to tell you 2015 is coming to an end. There will be struggles next year, but there will also be joys.

I used to say this to the girls I mentored all the time: “Most of the time you can’t choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude.” I usually have naive hopes and dreams for the next year, and I secretly know that they probably won’t come true. But at the same time, I have the ability to choose the person I will be in the midst of circumstances.

This past year was nothing like I expected it to be. It had its share of stress and joy. One thing I am thankful for is that I didn’t give up writing. In fact, I made a number of steps to develop and enhance my writing career, and I am proud of the progress I have made. It has influenced me in a positive way and boosted my confidence.

In 2016 I hope to publish two books and write a third. But I also hope to produce some more short stories. I hope to share more and receive feedback from the people around me. I hope to spend time with people I love and even learn to love the people I spend time with. I don’t want life to pass by in a blur. I want to utilize every moment of every day. Those are some of my goals for 2016. But that book isn’t out yet and we can only speculate about its plot.

Happy New Year

Cliches

Yep, I’m diving headfirst into that one today! If you scan the internet for like, one second, you will find hundreds of rants concerning cliches in storytelling. Today, I hope to give a different perspective. “The plot was cliche.” “The protagonist’s struggle was so cliche.” And on and on. There is a mob of movie-watching, book-reading critics out there ready to bash the brains out of your story the instant they think you’ve subscribed to that c-club. Does that sound intimidating? It does to me, especially when you consider the fact that a lot of cliches (like stereotypes) are founded in truth. So what’s an author to do? Well, today I hope to give a different perspective on cliches.

I want to start by saying that I’m as liable as anyone to roll my eyes and cry “foul” when I run across my own little cliche pet-peeve list. So don’t write me off as a cheap, buck-making, penny novelist just yet. And I think this brings up our first good point: the truth that everybody has a different list of cliches they will or will not tolerate. There tend to be some popular ones that get slammed by media figures. I guess you could say there are cliche-bashing trends, while other cliches are celebrated and well-funded. Confusing, right? Here’s a glimmer of hope for you: if a particular cliche is important to your story, or even important to you, you don’t necessarily need to cut it out just to please the masses.

As some wise pinner on Pinterest put it: “You can’t please everyone: you’re not a jar of Nutella.”

Now time for my controversial thesis:

I propose the crux of the issue behind most cliches is a lack of depth, and conversely that almost any cliche can be safely utilized when treated correctly.

Gutsy, huh? Before you start blaming me for all the teenage love triangles in popular fiction today, hear me out.

Let me move to a field where I have unquestionable expertise: my own experience.

For most of my life I’ve had lofty ambitions to master the written word and use it to tell stories that impact people and change perspectives. But where do you begin with such a lofty calling? I’m not afraid to admit that as a teenager I began with a lot of cliches. Because what are cliches? Most people would say they are overused stereotypes, simplistic representations, maybe even uninformed impressions. For example: the bad guy with a heart of gold, the woman who falls in love with her kidnapper, the ordinary person who is really prophesied to save the world. The truth of reality is that people who do bad things often have a lot of darkness inside of them. The truth of reality is that the woman who falls for a man who kidnapped her is in an unhealthy relationship and probably needs some counseling. The truth of reality is there is rarely anything one person can do that would actually save the world from its problems.

The interesting thing about each of these cliches is there was a time when they had never been heard before and introducing them brought fresh perspective. It’s also true that there is something interesting about each one. The fact that they don’t match up with our day to day reality attracts us to them. But unless the characters, events, and motivations are believable, readers will write them off as trite and unrealistic.

One of the fun things about writing is that you don’t have to stick to the daily grind of reality. In fact, I often write to transcend it. I like to use unusual situations, what ifs, and even impossible circumstances to shed new light on the character or themes of my story. I think cliches are one way to do that. Because often times authors long ago used these cliches successfully, and writers have been copying them ever since–maybe that’s why they became cliche.

The root of the problem with cliches is the root of the problem with bad writing: there is no depth and no insight. There are seven billion people in the world with seven billion different stories, and seven billion perspectives on life. There should be no cliches. In my ideal world a hundred others could use the same basic outline for their novels and produce one hundred fresh, different, insightful books. So I guess my point is this: whatever you are writing, don’t settle for the surface. Dig deep into character motivations, draw from your own unique experience, tell unusual stories, and remain true to who people are and what drives them.

But maybe I should tack this on to make myself clear: I think cliches are the shadows of real characters, and fascinating plot. If your writing is full of cliches, you may be just a breath away from a great novel.

What do you guys think? Do you have any examples of movies/books that successfully used an old cliche in a new way?

The OODA Loop and Your Character

I’ve been reading about the OODA loop this week. Have you heard about it? I guess it was first articulated by airman and theorist John Boyd. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. It describes how humans respond and behave to changes, especially in conflict/trauma. Training and preparation can help you move through the observe and orient stages and arrive at decide and act more quickly.

Although I didn’t know the specific terms, I sort of discovered this on my own. As confessed in earlier posts, I am an INTP. Practically this means I think a lot. Typically, my goal is to take in as much information as possible before coming to a decision and acting. This sounds like bad news in a crisis and I confess I have a tendency to freeze up and be indecisive.

When I was in seventh grade I developed a new habit: screaming when I was startled. I didn’t like this habit. My brother didn’t like it either. He told me once that he thought I was better than all the other girls who did that. I decided I needed to break this habit. I realized that if I always pretended that someone was about to scare me, I wouldn’t scream when it happened. I would be prepared. Granted, I couldn’t be completely prepared every second of every day…but the process of seriously thinking it out was developing my “situational awareness” (although I didn’t know to call it that). The first couple times things startled me, I was ready. I was able to form new habits and a new mindset for how to react when startled.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was developing my “orientation” skills. Instead of just impulsively letting out a scream, I was more swift to adopt any new, startling, circumstances into my mind frame. I started to do something similar in a lot of areas in my life. Because I am such a heavy thinker, if I can think things out ahead of time it helps me arrive at “decide” and “act” a lot sooner.

That is why I love trainings: CPR, First Aid, Lifeguarding, Wilderness Advanced First Aid, even customer service training. They teach you to prepare for scenarios and often give you the words to say and the steps to take.

How does all this relate to writing and character development?

Well, I was reading online this one woman’s defense of why ISTP’s make the best action heroes. ISTP’s are similar to INTP’s, but they prefer action. They are good observers and good thinkers, but that “S” means they live more in the world of senses than inside their own brain. They are good at making decisions and reacting to the world around them.

I grant that those are good qualities for an action hero. But I don’t think that you should eliminate other personality types. After all, isn’t it more interesting when the personality type that “shouldn’t” be a hero becomes one? Here’s my plug for the INTP: they are good at seeing patterns and detecting flaws in the system. They just need some training ahead of time to help get them past the big “double O” of observe and orient. If they get stuck there they might be useless. (In middle school my sister and I decided to light toilet paper on fire in order to reach the floating candle down in a vase. Of course it turned into a blaze. I was frozen, stuck in the observe and orient phase, debating what to do. My sister promptly snatched it and threw it in the sink!)

In fact, it would be fun to play around with characters who struggle in different areas of this “loop.” Some people will skip observe and orient and just decide and act, often having to deal with the consequences of not thinking things through.

I think it’s an interesting model. I’m not saying it’s flawless…but it helps us understand how people respond and behave.

Winter Thoughts: The Best Things Are Worth Fighting For

Every spring I greet the warm sunshine like a long-lost friend and I wonder how I made it through another winter. In summer, winter seems like a bad dream. And when fall sets in I always brace myself for the inevitability of the ever-approaching frozen season.

But when winter actually arrives I am surprised by my own maturity. There may have been times in the past when I curled up in a ball under a blanket and refused to come out, but that has become a rare occurrence.

Today I drove around the nearby lake and was reminded how stunningly beautiful winter can be. The trees were thickly coated with frost, with the rich brown undertones of their trunks peeking through and the lake creating an icy blue backdrop. And as I have learned with all weather, there is something comforting about the uncontrollable that affects everyone’s lives.

So I am back in the season of sweaters, jackets, scarves, boots, hot chocolate, twinkling lights, and sympathetic holiday gatherings. And I’ve realized that me and winter have come along way. I don’t hate it anymore. Our relationship is still bumpy at times, but we have fought through difficult seasons and come out stronger. And I think that I value winter because it has taught me so much about myself and life. I have come to value winter because it is not easy.

Some of the best things in my life are the ones I’ve had to fight for, or the trials I’ve endured that have made me stronger. I like a good fight.

I have fought very long and hard for “The Creation of Jack.” It started out with a lot of promise and a lot of half-baked ideas. I knew the emotional journey I wanted for the main character, but didn’t have much of an idea of how to get there. I needed more practice with writing and a lot more life experience. It started out immature, and probably a little confusing. Five years later it became much more. Not only did I land on a manuscript that I was proud of (that still moves me to tears), but “The Creation of Jack” became a launching pad for my sequel “Into the Void”–a book that has surprised and astounded me with its ambition, scope, complexity, and insight. I think it is the best I’ve ever written (which is what I always hope to say about my most recent projects).

So here’s to winter, and pushing through difficult seasons and difficult projects. The best things are worth fighting for and the best inspiration often comes out of the midst of the struggle.

Locus of Control

The locus of control is the extent to which individuals believe they can control events affecting them. Those with an internal locus of control believe they can control their own lives and they are responsible for their own success. In effect, they are “the captain of their own fate.” People with an external locus believe that external events, out of their control, tend to effect their lives. Those with an external locus of control tend to believe in things like luck and/or fate.

Have you ever thought about where your locus of control lies? It really can effect the choices you make and the perspective you have. It shouldn’t surprise you that the classic American locus of control has been internal. The culture I grew up in was much more external. Communities bond together to help each other through the ups and downs of life.

Whether your character has an internal or external locus of control will help determine how your character responds to failure, to waiting, to disaster, and to chaos. Is your character a fatalist? Or is she a fiercely independent woman, who thinks everything is either her fault or her well-earned victory?

Think of Ahab from Moby Dick. He was the ultimate fatalist. He could not turn back and save his crew because he believed he had no choice but to live the life prescribed to him. And then there’s Jim Kirk from “Star Trek,” who thinks he can do whatever he wants. He thinks the world revolves around him and it is his responsibility to bless the world with his success.

Interesting, isn’t it? But that immediately makes me wonder about my characters, especially Logan and Druce.

I think Logan tends toward an external locus. Part of the reason she can persevere through so much hardship is because she believes it is her “fate.” She doesn’t believe in avoiding problems as much as she believes in responding to them correctly. Druce, on the other hand, is much more action oriented. He grows frustrated when he feels like he cannot shape the situation. Those are my thoughts, anyway.

Although some might argue that as much as external forces have shaped her life without her consent, she maintains an internal locus–making her own decisions. I guess I’m a little divided on the issue. She’s certainly not ambitious. She makes the best of cards dealt to her. Perhaps she falls squarely in the middle. When she tends toward fatalism, Druce pulls her out and reminds her that she can make her own choices.

Of course, very few people are strict fatalists. I think most people strike a balance between them, depending on culture and upbringing. It’s an interesting question.

Thoughts On POV

You didn’t ask for it…but here it is! Some of my extended and specific thoughts on different point of view writing. (I’m not gonna lie: I had to look a couple of these up as a refresher)

Third Person- Strongest. I was thinking about why I like third person so much. I think it gives the story more credence. After all, history books are written in third person. A strong third person story can almost seem like history sometimes (The Lord of the Rings). There is an authority and respectability about it.

Third Person Omniscient- I have heard that this is difficult to do well. A lot of what I said above applies to this one as well. Tolkien really did a great job on this, especially after the Fellowship broke up. He jumped around from character to character, piecing together all the different parts to the story.

Third Person Limited Omniscient- I call this the more personal third person. The reader is more closely attached with one character, witnessing all the events that happen around them. It’s like you’re their best friend. You aren’t actually in their head hearing their thoughts, but they often share what they’re thinking. However, this POV is one step down on the “epic scale.” There is more focus on the journey of an individual and less focus on “the grand scheme of things.”

Second Person- I remember when my teachers taught me about second person narrative. They told me how it is rarely used in fiction and basically said, “You shouldn’t use it.” Of course the rebel inside of me wanted to go straight home and write a best seller in second person narrative. I was nine years old. It didn’t happen. Of course now I understand what they meant. In general, you don’t tell the reader a story about themselves. The best examples of second person narrative are the ones in which the narrator refers to the audience. Think of C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia (But I have also head this POV called “The Commentator”). He frequently makes asides to the reader. But the rest of the story is third person. (I just had a fun idea for a short story in second person! I am going to write it down!)

First Person-I feel like there is a wide spectrum of first person and am not sure I can state my general thoughts on it just yet. My instinct is that I don’t like, but there are exceptions to the rule. (Moby Dick, for example, is written in a combination of styles. Much of it is first person, some of it appears to be Commentative, but the narrator also communicates scenes between characters where he does not appear to be present. I guess Herman Melville can do what he wants!)

First Person Present Tense- I may have coined this one. A lot of people probably wouldn’t distinguish between FP present tense and FP past tense. The difference is, of course, that in present tense you experience everything at the same time as the narrator does. This one has become popular lately, especially in young adult fiction.

First Person Past Tense- Much preferable to FP Present Tense. The narrator is telling you of events that happened in the past and so he/she can often add in helpful commentary. A subdivision of this POV is the First Person Secondary Character (The Sherlock Holmes stories are told from Watson’s perspective). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle pulls this off very well. It is fascinating to observe Sherlock Holmes through the eyes of his friend.

These make up the main POV styles in my mind although I have heard of other ones (the Unreliable Narrator, the Secret Character, the Interviewer, the Detached Observer). A lot of those are clever stylistic techniques.

Did I miss any? What is your favorite POV?

What to Leave Out

When I begin a writing project I usually have at least a few clear ideas in my head of what’s going to happen. Sometimes I have scenes mapped out very clearly in my head. One of the biggest problems I encountered in my early days of writing was how to string them all together.

I used to really struggle with transitions and adding in “filler.” But as I struggled my way through those scenes I was surprised to find how much they could add to the story. In fact, I often found that my bigger problems of plot and character were frequently solved in the little scenes.

Now, on the other side of thirteen years of writing, I am beginning to play with the other dilemma of what to leave out. I used to leave things out all the time out of laziness and call it a plot device only to find that I had to fill things in to make the story workable. (Pathetic, I know) Lately I have been relishing the details a little too much. I hate those books when you can’t tell what a character is thinking at a crucial moment because the other neglects to describe what they are thinking or expressing in body language. About two years ago though, I read a book that changed my perspective. It was written from the character’s point of view, yet the author included enough subtle information so that the reader could figure out what was really going on with this person. This may sound pretty basic, but it was important for me.

My style tends to be pretty direct. But now I am re-examining my scenes from a different perspective. Assuming that your readers are smart can change a lot about how you write.

But there is a second aspect to this struggle and it has to do with plot. Right now I am making some major edits to the ending of “Into the Void.” It’s going really well and I love how it ties up loose ends and adds some depth. But I am making a risky choice the narrative of what actually happens. Tolkien had some moments in his trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” where you don’t find out what happens until one of the characters relates it to another. One of these instances is with the Paths of the Dead. We don’t really know what happened until Legolas and Gimli explain it to Merry and Pippin after the battle of Pelennor Fields is over. This isn’t a very popular plot choice, and for good reason. As a writer, I want you to feel like you are in the middle of the action. If my character is retelling what happened then you already know that they survived. But I think there is some value to it.

I tend to flirt with the line between omniscient and limited omniscient point of view. This is because I enjoy the intimacy of sticking with a character and discovering information along with them. But I also enjoy the dimension added when the reader gets glimpses that the main character doesn’t have. In truth, I probably stuck more closely to the limited omniscience in “The Creation of Jack” than I have been in “Into the Void.” That’s because “Into the Void” has much more complexity to it. But the risky choice that I am considering is to suddenly dial back the reader’s omniscience near the end. There are a number of climatic “aha” moments that the reader is going to witness in a unique way. Wish me luck! If it doesn’t work I will have to rewrite it. 🙁

What are your thoughts on POV? Which style is your favorite to write in? To read it? (Personally, the modern trend of first person present tense narration drives me crazy.)