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Point of View
by Sandy Tritt
(continued from last month)
paragraph can actually be from anyone’s viewpoint (including an
invisible narrator), but since the scene opens with Ray, the reader will
assume it will be from Ray’s perspective. Therefore, it is wise to
always open a scene with the viewpoint character to keep from confusing
OMNISCIENT POINT OF VIEW:
the mile from the hospital to Bob’s Sunoco. He found Gary in the bay,
changing the oil on a pale blue Cadillac. He kicked his brother’s feet
until Gary rolled from beneath the car. “We gotta talk.”
Gary wiped sweat from his eyes. It wasn’t like Ray to
interrupt him at work. “I get off at three.”
Gary stood and
wiped his hands on an oily rag. “What’s up?”
“Let’s walk.” Ray feared his brain was going to
explode. Too much was going on, too many things were changing. He’d read
the front page of the newspaper over and over while waiting in the
doctor’s office. The Apollo 7 astronauts were heading home after eleven
days in space. President Johnson was negotiating for the release of
fourteen North Vietnamese POW’s. And Jackie Kennedy, the dead
President’s wife, was marrying a Greek billionaire the very next day. He
didn’t even know if it was legal for the President’s widow to marry a
Gary followed Ray outside and toward town. He didn’t
like it that Ray was so quiet. “What did the doctor say about Mom?”
Ray hated to
break the news. “He put her in the hospital.”
colorful leaves swirl around their ankles, the drier ones crunching
under their heavy steps. He kicked them out of his way. “Why?”
“He got the tests
A young mother,
her sweater flapping in the wind, pushed a baby carriage over the uneven
sidewalk with one hand and pulled a stubborn toddler with the other.
Ray stepped into the street to let her pass, wondering if
she realized that the world had changed that day.
“What did the
doctor say?” Gary repeated.
“She’s got cancer.”
Ray slowed down
until Gary caught up. “Something about a mass in her brain.”
Gary’s hand automatically went
to his own head. He looked at Ray, waiting for more, waiting for
reassurance that it would be all right.
But Ray was
“Does she need
surgery? Does she have to take chemo? Or radiation?”
“He says there
ain’t nothing they can do. He says it’s too late.” Ray remembered
that part very well. He’d argued with Dr. Brown, insisting there had to
be something. She had three young boys who needed her.
“Too late? Too late
“Dr. Brown says . .
.” Ray rubbed his head. “He says it’s too late. He says she ain’t coming
They walked slower,
silently, past the library and into the park. Pre-schoolers played on
the swings and slide, laughing and shouting.
Gary leaned against an oak
tree, his dirty gray jumpsuit blending into the trunk. He had always
thought of his mother as being like a tree, strong and immovable.
“What’re we gonna do?” he said.
Gary took a new
pack of Marlboros from his pocket and tapped it against his palm. “The
the children play. “I guess we gotta pick them up from school and fix
them something to eat.”
“I don’t mean now,”
Gary said, opening the cigarettes. “Until they’re grown. Who’ll take
care of them?”
Gary stared at his older
brother. The dull, distant look in Ray’s copper eyes worried him.
Ray scratched the
five-day-old stubble on his chin. “They made a mistake. We just gotta
find Dad and get this all straightened out. Dad will know what to do.”
Gary lit a
cigarette and slowly exhaled.
the smoke disappear into the October-blue sky. A foreigner. Two hundred
million people in the United States and the President’s widow was going
to marry a foreigner. No wonder the world was so damned screwed up.
As you can
see, hopping from one head to another allows us to see everything each
character thinks. However, it also makes it hard to empathize with any
of the characters, and, when overdone, leaves the reader feeling like
he’s watching a ping-pong tournament at close range. This scene could be
much more powerful if it concentrated on only one person’s viewpoint.
(continued next month)
(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. August be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
What Fiction Are you Writing?
by Robert Lee Brewer
Since it helps to know what
you're offering before you actually approach markets here's a quick list
of lengths for the various types of fiction. If you aren't sure what
kind of fiction you've been writing, here are the word
count guidelines to help you figure it out.
Up to 1,000
words—short-short, flash fiction or vignette
words—long story or novelette
words—novel (though most commonly 50,000-80,000 words)
Anything more than 120,000 will
probably need to be broken up into a series of books or condensed.
Novels tend to be published by
book publishers originally, though excerpts can be sold to magazines.
Short-shorts, flash fiction, vignettes, and short stories are usually
sold first in magazines—with the possibility of releasing a collection
in book form after several have been published.
Long stories, novelettes, and
novellas can be tougher to place, but the norm is for them to originally
appear in magazines or collections of short fiction.
Dealing With Copyright or Trademark Violations
by Sharon Housley
(Reprinted with permission)
Who, What and Where
Before reacting, it is important to do
homework and research the alleged content violator. Arm yourself with
information. Determining the who, what and where will guide you in
taking the appropriate steps.
Determine WHO is violating your copyright
Research the website: do a Whois lookup to determine the site's
owner. The domain owner can be found by entering the domain into
and clicking on the link that says "Whois Lookup". If the copyright on
software has been violated, check the PAD file for the author and
Determine WHERE the website hosting
Determine where the website is hosted. Web
hosts located in progressive countries will be more cooperative in
addressing copyright violations. After determining the webhost's
location, check the host's Terms of Service (TOS) and Acceptable Use
Policy (AUP) to determine the level of cooperation you will likely
receive. More often than not, a physical address and detailed
information on how to report an abuse claim will be found in the
webhost's terms of service.
Determine exactly WHAT violations
When determining if a copyright violation
has occurred, it is important to go back to the question of what
constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright is a form of protection
provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the
authors of “original works of authorship." This work can be literary,
dramatic, musical, artistic, or similar intellectual works. Copyright
protection is available to both published and unpublished works. It is
illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the
copyright law to the owner of copyright. It is important to note that
ideas can not be copywritten, and while it may be morally and ethically
questionable, cloning a software application is not a copyright
violation, yet copying a helpfile is a copyright violation.
Copyright protection exists from the time
the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of
authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created
the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the
author can rightfully claim copyright. Evaluate the violator's work to
determine if text, graphics or any of the program or website's artistic
qualities are the same as your creative works. Print hard copies of any
documents and save electronic versions of web pages and executables.
Capture screenshots of offenses, save documentation or the Help file
that contains any duplications of text. Enter the URL of the offending
http://www.archive.org to see the website's history and determine a
timeline during which violations occurred. Look and feel can be
subjective, try to focus on obvious or flagrant violations. Copied text
or Help files is obvious when filing a complaint with web hosts or other
What is Next?
If you feel your copyright has, in fact,
been violated there are a number of steps that you can take. Contacting
third party service providers is a good starting point. Make a list of
the providers with whom you can contact to report the violations.
2. Online Ordering
3. If Software, Download Sites
4. Associations or Organizations
Aside from service providers, consider
using existing relationships with parties who have a mutual interest or
relationship with the other party. Often, knowing key people can result
in a rapid response and increased dialogue with the purported offender.
Send simultaneous emails to each of the
parties identified. Include details of the violation; using a PDF that
displays screen captures or copies of text violations with website
pointers is helpful. In the email, explain the action you wish to occur.
If you want the web host to remove the website, say so. Also, ask that
they keep you apprised of the situation.
In most cases you will receive responses
from webhosts or registration services that require you to provide
additional details so that the infringement can be investigated. It may
seem obvious to the copyright holder, but the web hosts typically have a
contractual agreement with their clients and are legally obligated to
research any infringements before removing hosting or registration
Send a Cease and Desist letter and an
email detailing that a copyright has been violated, include a reasonable
deadline by which the offending copy or application should be removed.
It is not necessary to provide the offender the details of the
violation, as it is likely they are already aware of the offenses that
have occurred. These actions will generally open a dialogue with the
offender. If the offender ignores requests to remove the material that
infringes on your copyright, pursue action with third party services.
This will likely get the offender's attention.
Artists, developers, and writers all work
hard to create unique material and copyrights should be respected by
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing
RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for
http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.
Critiques by Sandy
Unlike most editors, I consider my role
to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I
explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how
to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat
business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other
Treat you with respect and compassion.
All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to
improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
Mark your manuscript, correcting
grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where
Highlight areas that are especially
well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
Where appropriate, offer suggestions for
plot development, character development or other areas that could be
Return a two-to-four page written
analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting,
characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks,
etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
If appropriate, recommend reading or
resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
Answer any questions you have via
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article
Writing for an Illustration
In the following article, Larry refers to his illustrations on
I draw what I see, but I don't write what I see. I look at the scene and
hear what noises it makes: the footfalls of the people, their breathing,
the chink of armor, noises in the background. I aim them in a particular
mood and listen to their background stories. Sometimes their first few
background stories don't make sense as to what I'm seeing in the
picture, maybe they're eyes are shifty and their telling me their
innocent bystanders. I don't buy it. Maybe it's a case of, 'I'm just
defending myself!', but there's got to be a reason why five guys are
piling lumps on him. Other characters start to pitch their own ideas of
what's happening. (Here's some advice, never listen to the big huge
characters. It always comes down to eating!)
By now you're asking yourself, 'What's this guy doing? He draws a
picture and doesn't know what he's drawing? What about composition?
Let me explain myself. First of all, 95% of these drawings started
out as exercises in drawing action poses. A simple stick figure leaning
one way or another, balanced at a weird angle. Maybe I'd draw two stick
figures if I was feeling ambitious. That was enough for one sheet of
paper. I'd take out another sheet and draw another pose, and so on.
Around this time, my ten year old brother-in-law was playing the
dungeons and dragons game, and being the big kid brother-in-law that I
was, indulged him in his hobby. We'd paint the pewter figures and play
the games. Sometimes the game would influence the drawings, by me adding
a sword or dragon. I would go back to earlier drawings and flesh out the
stick figures with period clothing and shields and weapons. Some
drawings were influenced by the storylines our characters found
themselves in during the course of the games. As I sketched and went
back to fill in the older drawings, I would fill in the backgrounds
which would lend themselves to the whole adventuring theme.
This went on for years and I finally amassed hundreds of these
drawings. (This habit continues today and on a nice day I go out to the
swing in my yard and alternate between drawing and writing.) While
adding to the drawings, I would have a basic running dialogue with
myself as to what these scenes that were emerging were about. "'This bad
guy is doing this and this good guy is stopping him.' or, 'This guy
looks a certain way, so let's make the surroundings reflect the mood.
Basic ideas with no real stories to them.
Being a comic collector helps. From the world of super heroes and the
fantastic, ideas were always swirling around in my noggin. I get the
themes of comics: Good verses Evil. One person against all odds to
battle for what they believe in. Also things thrown in to make it
interesting for the reader. Setting up side stories to continue once the
current story is over. I also get the 'in-jokes' comic artists throw in
to see if anyone is paying attention or just to amuse themselves and
So when I look at my pictures, I try to add a twist to it (if there's
one to be had) mostly for my own amusement, but also to give the
viewer/reader something to think about. It's not just a description of
the illustration, but a telling of a tale that goes beyond the
"snapshot" of the action scene.
I see their situation and hear the stories of the characters. I
listen to the story beyond the picture and try to recap it in one page,
approx. 525 words. It's a limitation I put on myself because that's
about the amount of space on a single side of a college bound notebook
page. I see all these drawings I have and tell myself that I'll just do
a short piece for each one and some day go back and write a full story.
But, who knows, on a second look at the drawing I might hear a whole
This is what I hope will happen when other people view my drawings.
They get a first impression and then read my take on the picture, then
say to themselves, "Oh, I thought it was about..." and make up a whole
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August, 2005 (no. 608)
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