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 July, 2005


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The Basics: Point of View (Part 1)

by Sandy Tritt


One of the most important decisions you will make in writing your story is choosing which point of view to use. The point of view is the “head” or “camera angle” from which the action will be filtered. When we choose a point of view, we contract with our readers to follow a set of rules in how we will present our story. The viewpoint is the particular character’s eyes we will see through. This may change from scene to scene, or, with restraint, even within a scene. The narrator can be a viewpoint character in some cases.
Depending on which source you study, there are a variable number of points of view to choose from. However, I have selected the five I think are most often used.

• First Person Point of View - The narrator is “I” or “we.” Only things that are heard, seen, thought or known by the narrator (who is the viewpoint character) can be revealed: I knew I shouldn’t have let Grandma go down there. She isn’t too steady on her feet to start with, and then she gets those dizzy spells. But she insisted, and the next thing I know, she’s tumbling down those stairs like a gymnast . . .

• Second Person Point of View - The narrator addresses the reader or some other assumed “you”: You know how it is. You think you shouldn’t intervene, you think she’ll get mad at you if you don’t let her do what she’s always done . . . “You” in this case, is the viewpoint character.

• Third Person Point of View, Panoramic - The narrator sees all the action, but doesn’t read minds. This can best be understood as being like a movie camera—anything that can be seen or heard can be described, but we are not privileged to see into any character’s thoughts. In this point of view, the narrator always acts as the viewpoint character. Mrs. Smith stood at the top of the stairs, her son John next to her. Clinging to the handrail, she planted her trembling foot on the first step. But the other foot caught on the carpet and . . .
• Third Person Point of View, Controlled Consciousness - This is probably the easiest point of view for a beginning writer to use. Like first person, we see all the action through the eyes of a single character, and we can only see what that character—our viewpoint character—sees. The difference is we use “he” or “she” instead or “I” or “we”: John knew he shouldn’t have allowed his grandmother to go down the stairs alone. She wasn’t steady on her feet and sometimes she grabbed onto the nearest object when dizziness overwhelmed her.

• Third Person Omniscient - God-like; the narrator knows and sees everything, and can move from one mind to another. John stood next to his grandmother. He wanted to help her down the stairs. Mrs. Smith looked at her grandson, her blue eyes sharp, and moved a strand of hair from her face. She was determined to do this on her own, to prove she wasn’t a helpless old lady . . . In this example, John is the viewpoint character in the first two sentences, then Mrs. Smith becomes the viewpoint character. Note that although the viewpoint character changes, the Point of View (omniscient) remains the same. One word of caution: although third person omniscient allows the most flexibility, it is difficult to manage. Besides visiting the heads of different characters, we can also see into the future or see things that none of the characters can see.

Since point of view is one of the hardest things to understand, I’m going to give another, more detailed example of a scene using different viewpoints. First, I will present it in omniscient point of view, and then I will present the same scene in third person controlled consciousness from two different viewpoints. I will use green print to show the lines that are from Gary’s viewpoint and blue print to show the lines that are from Ray’s viewpoint. Additionally, in the omniscient example, I will use bold print to show the word or words that prompts the viewpoint change. In most cases, either a verb or internal dialogue will move the viewpoint from one character to another. The trick is to recognize when we actually enter the character’s head to see, hear, feel or think something from the character’s perspective. Notice that once we enter a character’s head, we stay in his viewpoint until something prompts us to move elsewhere.

(continued next month)

(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. July 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 at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net







Writing & Culture

by Nyankami Miroro Atandi

Kenya Editor


Looking at history, in order to understand ourselves at this particular moment of our lives, we must be ready to look back to see how we’re endowed, simultaneously, with the ability to look farther ahead. Pleasant as it may seem that we’re tiding along fine with the acquired cultural assumption that resources’re plentiful, and their ‘presumed’ eventual scarcity’s mere hearsay, one needs to reflect on the cause of this mental outlook.

In Physics there’s what’s known as the Energy Equipartition Law; considering a molecule’s a combination of atoms with discrete characteristics, then just like the atom, this molecule has internal structure. The essence of Equipartition’s that the available energy depends on the ambient conditions and thus distributes itself equally to each of the discrete independent ways in which particles – the molecule can be thought of as a rigid particle - can absorb energy. And if all did spawn from the micro, or the fundamental, towards the macro, then it inherently means that the latter observes, and must indeed be seen to observe, the fundamental laws.

From a communal level, the dual concept of good and evil, symbolized by positive and negative, its corresponding state alternations breeds an ambience of checks and balances; as norms that govern a society’s dynamism, they determine the mutual web of morality among its inhabitants. Hence, the principle of good serves as a positive aspect that shores and guards a society and its mores, while, retroactively, evil’s that which promulgates that which should be avoided, in the process providing a society with vigor that gives it an inner tension, cohesion and creativeness expressed in an awareness of limits of permissible possibilities espoused by - called in Physics - Degrees Of Freedom.

Therefore, by a society’s individuals pursuing ideals geared towards individualistic goals contrary to those for the common good, a situation arises whereby the ethic’s one of personal accumulation with the whims of the individual set in opposition to the common good. Pertaining to this, we’re faced with an urgent need to find a new morality and new ways of humanizing ourselves in this global village as this contemporary culture indicates dangerous breaks from traditional continuities; scientific ‘progress’ has given birth to doubts about the values of these traditions without offsetting them with the knowledge necessary to determine whether given norms’re indispensable or not. Unplanned changes subsequently lead to cultural deaths. Without wanting to sound like bemoaning the past, I am sure none of us is rooting for that.

Thus said, the need’s urgent for each one of us to take note and appreciate our cultural as well as our individual differences and recognizing that they all should contribute to the common good, as no man, in deed no society, is an island; just like the fundamental laws, retrospectively, the differences in our cultures varied in form and not in content.

In this regard, taking into consideration the importance of writing as a tool that can be used to enlighten others, I take it as an honor to be accorded this opportunity to grace the introduction of this book with the message that the various stories herein by a cross-section of diverse, talented authors, have important values to impart if one was to take the time to sit back and read between their lines. Thank you.

Critiquing Special

  • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (July, 2005).

    Critiques by Sandy Tritt

  • 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 writers.

  • 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 appropriate, line-by-line.

  • 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 strengthened.

  • 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 email.

  • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/Manuscript_Critique.html

Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net

(See Sandy's article - above.)








All About Choices

by Bev Boisen

A writing course is a must for anyone who is interested in writing just for fun or as a possible career.

Sending your story into a publisher, and feeling good about what you know and knowing how to put your words in the proper format, is essential

Writing the professional way is the only way.

After your course is completed, you must keep writing and reading other writers’ works.

I recommend purchasing a very helpful book called NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET SOURCEBOOK.

Here you can skim through trying to find a place for your story and, after you’ve depleted all sources, then by all means check into finding an agent. Their names are in the back of the WRITERS MARKET sourcebook.

I have checked into hiring an agent for my novella, but I have decided against it at this time.

Last but not least, you can contact a publisher to get information on self publishing.

I would not consider this way for children’s stories, but the novella I have written is non fiction and it is about a business I owned, so it may have a better chance to succeed.

Self publishing is an expensive way to get published, but if you are in a hurry to publish, this is for you.

Finding a place that pays you for your story is the best way to publish.

Getting paid is much nicer than having to pay.

A new writer’s pocket book is small.

I have had my share of rejection letters, but that is a small price to pay. This is the part of the writing world, and it’s not about your story. It’s just because you have not done your homework. Studying their individual guidelines is a must.

Being a writer is an accomplishment, so I say to all…

"Rejection is not a reflection on you, so...


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Publishing New Writers,

July, 2005 (no. 607)


Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

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