Writers’ Webinar: Authorial Voice vs. Character Voice

open mouthI know a lot of new writers trip up on the difference between Authorial voice and Character Voice. Sometimes, they think they are the same thing, but nothing could be closer to the truth. This webinar concentrates on character voice, but it does lead in with an explanation as to both different kinds of "voices."

To wrap it in a nutshell: Your characters should all sound different. They should all have their own voice. When a certain character has the POV in a scene (and you must present every different scene in your book from a particular character's POV), everything the reader discovers, whether it's through setting, exposition, or dialogue, is filtered through that characters mind with his or her judgment acting upon it before the reader ever gets the information.

Certain characters will notice at different things around them. Someone who's lived their life in San Francisco, probably won't even notice the Golden Gate bridge as it comes into view while he's driving--he's seen it way too much. But if someone flies in to meet him and this person has never been to San Francisco, he's likely oohing and awing all over the place when he sees the bridge for the first time. Each character will phrase their words a slightly different way from the rest. Maybe it's a little stammer they have, or something about their ages (children see the world much differently than grown ups), but something is different for that character from all the others. This is where all your characterization, emotional growth, and story arc starts.

I will have a webinar about building scenes coming up, but one thing you want to do (unless your book is told entirely from one character's viewpoint) is decide ahead of time which character will have the POV in that scene. Do not change POVs within a scene. Only after section or chapter breaks should you change POV. Now a lot of people will point out very successful novels where this doesn't happen and my response to that is, "Fine, but this isn't their first novel published, generally, or if it is, you don't know how many others the author wrote before getting one published." What I'm trying to say is, yes, there is an exception to every rule and you can break the rules only if you know the rules and have a good reason for not following them. "To be different," is not good enough. There is a reason this rule is in place and that's so we, as readers, see your POV character as she sees the world. By doing so, we learn her insecurities, her strengths, her charisma (or lack thereof), and their motivations. Going this deeply into a character's POV allows us to empathize with the character and grow attached to her. Remember, your main character should become a surrogate for your reader. When she weeps, you want the reader there with you, right alongside her.

If you aren't writing a book from a single POV, then you have to ask yourself which character should be the POV character in a certain scene? Usually (but not always), you want to view the scene from whatever character has the most emotion at stake in the scene. This means, if you have a husband and a wife fighting in the kitchen, you might want to choose whichever one will have the most to lose if they split up. Or, you might not want either one of them. A better idea, might be placing the POV from their daughter who's down the hall with her door closed, sitting on her bed, and trying desperately to plug her ears.



That's it for now. Next time we'll discuss the difference between third person and first person and how that affects the words you use for exposition and setting. If I have time, I will dip my toe into the waters of Deep Point of view (also called "close" point of view), but my gut feeling is that will probably come in a webinar all its own later on.

Thanks for watching!

Michael out.

Writers’ Webinar: First Drafts, Practicing, and the Outline

Quill and ink for copyedit pagesThis instal­ment of my Writ­ers’ Series of Webi­na­rs talks about Shit­ty First Drafts (SFDs), Prac­tic­ing Your Craft, and touch­es on the heat­ed top­ic of whether or not one should out­line before they write. Some­thing I don’t say in the video is that I gen­er­al­ly don’t out­line when writ­ing a short sto­ry (a short sto­ry being any­thing less than, say, ten thou­sand words). Gen­er­al­ly, sto­ries this short come to you basi­cal­ly fin­ished. Or they grow organ­i­cal­ly from a spark of an idea. Either way, they’re small enough to con­tain com­plete­ly in your head with­out need­ing to be encum­bered with an out­line of any sort. Any­thing big­ger than, say, fif­teen thou­sand words, and I will out­line. The more com­plex the sto­ry, the more “sto­ry street posts,” I want to hit in my out­line. Just think of the out­line as anoth­er tool in your writer’s tool­box. It’s not there to crip­ple your cre­ativ­i­ty, it’s there to let you’re cre­ativ­i­ty soar, by tak­ing away all the stress of wor­ry­ing about whether or not your sto­ry is func­tion­ing the way you want it to while you throw down your first draft.

Anoth­er thing I don’t say in the video is that I’m a firm believ­er in get­ting your shit­ty first draft down as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. This is yet anoth­er way to keep your left brain inter­nal edi­tor at bay–write so fast that he or she can’t keep up. Remem­ber, nobody ever has to see your first draft but you, although, I’ve trained my agent to see past the crap­pi­ness of a SFD and occa­sion­al­ly I will actu­al­ly send her a com­plet­ed first draft with speci­fic ques­tions. But she knows from expe­ri­ence what my SFDs turn into on sec­ond and final drafts,so it’s not a huge deal.



Michael out.

Writers’ Webinar: The Five Point Climax

fighting dragonThis webi­nar dis­cuss­es a five point cli­max, based on the one Blake Sny­der describes in Save the Cat! Strikes Back. If you haven’t read the Save the Cat! series of books, I high­ly rec­om­mend them. Once again, they’re writ­ten for screen­play writ­ers, but pret­ty much all of the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed cross­es over to writ­ing books. Most of my favorite writ­ing books are books for screen­writ­ers. Actu­al­ly, I think that might make a good future webi­nar post: My Favorite Writ­ing Books… and Why.



As always, please let me know your thoughts about this series of webi­na­rs as well as any top­ics you might want to see dis­cussed. I’m hop­ing the­se are help­ful for some of you.

Michael out.

New Webinar Series


Now that my site is back together again (other than a few twiddly bits I want to add but I'm at the mercy of the 80/20 rule--the last 20% is taking the longest to learn), I thought I would take a break from my usual blog posting and put up a series of webinars that. I originally said each webinar was targeting "beginning writers," but, really, they're not. They're is going to be a lot I go over that some of you may have forgotten or just never heard anything like it. Call these "refresher courses." Sometimes, as writers, we get so caught up in our work, we don't see the forest for the clear cutting. Anyway, This is the first one, and it discusses a Seven Point Plot Outline made for writing short stories that work.

I would really appreciate some feedbacks on these videos as I go along, and if you want something specific covered, just say the word and it shall be my command. Hopefully, I don't stammer too much. I have speakinginpublicaphobia, although, this isn't exactly like speaking in public.

Oh well, whatever doesn't kill us just makes us stronger. Right?



Michael out.

Archetypes: Threshold Guardians

This is the fifth in my series of videos on archetypes I'm using as part of the class I'm teaching at WVU (Writer's Village University). You'll find it at www.writersvillage.com. The class is on Writing the Hero's Journey.

This video is on the Threshold Guardian Archetype. Again, these are mainly for the class, but I thought I'd post them here too, since some people might get something out of them.



Michael out.