Head Hopping Again? (Revised)

headhoppingI had a segment of my book critiqued today and got dinged on the POV. I couldn’t believe it. The reviewer was correct. I was jumping into the head of several of my main characters throughout the segment.

I know that for whatever reason, this writing 101 concept does not come easy for me. I also know, that if you want a book published, you had better get the POV under control.

I sent my novel to an agent, prematurely I might add, and she was kind enough to reject it with reasons why. I was head hopping. To be honest, I had never heard that term before. Being a novice, untrained in the art of creative writing, I’ve had to learn my way around this world. There’s a lot more to it than being able to string a group of sentences together.

The secret to making your POV work is limiting it to one perspective per scene, chapter, or book. When you start jumping around from one POV character to another in the same scene/paragraph/sentence you have committed a cardinal sin. HEAD HOPPING.

If you are writing in Third Person, which I do,  and Lauren is your POV character, you can’t write–Lauren said she would meet Janie at the mall, but Janie didn’t believe her. I was just in Lauren’s head and Janie’s head. How am I suppose to know what Janie is thinking, if I’m limited to Lauren’s POV? What you could write is –Lauren said she would meet Janie at the mall, but she could tell from her friend’s response, that she didn’t believe her.

Hope this helped somebody.

-Jan R

Head Hopping Again? (Revised)

Adverb or Not To Adverb? (Repost)

Nouns-and-VerbsI do a lot of critiques for different writers during the week. Some of the writers are very polished; others, not so much.

The one thing I’ve noticed in all levels, is an abundance of adverbs. I must admit, I get jealous at how prettified some of those sentences read. I can’t write like that. My brain isn’t wired that way.

According to William Noble, many inexperienced writers, and I will add-unpublished but have been around the block a few times writers, throw in “pretty” words(adverbs or adjectives) to make their prose more dramatic and meaningful. These cosmetic touch-ups often turn out to be  redundant or simply uninspiring. They bog down your story without adding meaning.

Is the adverb necessary?

He zoomed around the oval speedily.-Is it possible to zoom without speeding?

He stuttered haltingly.-Can you stutter without doing it haltingly?

What about ‘show don’t tell’?  Adverbs encourage lazy writing.

He whispered to her lovingly. (Telling)

He whispered words of love…my sweet, dear lover, my angel…(Showing)

Remember, there are better ways to prettify your prose, and using adverbs isn’t one of them. You’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Start showing not telling.

I am not a NEVER ADVERBS person. Sometimes they are necessary to provide detail or clarity.

The man sang loudly.

The girl was really cute.

When a writer needs to set up a scene and move through it quickly, then the adverb shortcut isn’t a bad idea. The problem comes when the shortcut becomes the norm, and your reader is left with an uninteresting experience.

What’s wrong with Adverbs? Nothing as long as you don’t abuse them.

-Jan R

Adverb or Not To Adverb? (Repost)

Don’t Muddle Through The Middle

beginmuddleend4When you write a novel, one of the things you’re probably going to experience, is the mayhem in the middle. You have a great story idea, with a great beginning and a great ending. The only problem is, you haven’t thought about what happens when you get to the middle.

Most people who fail to complete their novel, become lost in the middle. They bail when they realize they don’t have enough cool stuff to fill the pages. They may attempt to add scenes, but become bored, and know readers will be too.

Every book becomes a challenge a few chapters in. Trying to keep up the tension and pace gets harder and harder. But don’t panic or do anything rash, like give up.

What can you do? If you’re one of those people who hasn’t developed an outline, thinking it would just come to you as you muddled through, maybe you should consider backing up and doing one.

An outline to set every scene gives you a blueprint of what will happen next. If the action starts to wane, think about a subplot or introduce tension between your main characters. Maybe there was a misunderstanding, or maybe that one minor character that was suppose to be the good guy, isn’t what he appears. Maybe the butler did it, but nobody knows.

You can have so much fun with subplots. Just keep them believable and resolve them all in the end.

Hope this helped.

Jan R

 

 

Don’t Muddle Through The Middle

Romance, Science Fiction, Mystery….You Should Read Them All

Genre.htmI read and write romance novels. I have to admit I’m a hopeless romantic. I just love stories where boy meets girl, you throw in a little conflict (okay a lot), but everything works out in the end, and they live happily ever after.

There’s nothing wrong with romance and wanting the happily ever after. The only thing I’m doing wrong is limiting myself to reading romance novels. I never really thought that much about it, until I read a blog on why I should be reading all genres.

From my perspective, I write romance. I need to know what’s out there and what’s selling. How do other romance authors handle the physical and emotional sides of the relationships?

All of these reasons are valid, and I should be reading romance. But you know what? That novel has a lot more than romance in it. At least it had better have, if I want to keep my readers’ attention.

I may be great at developing a romantic relationship between my hero and heroine, but I had better be able to create the mystery and suspense necessary to keep my readers’ turning the page.

You may be writing a sci-fi novel, but odds are there’s a romance between your two main characters, and no one can explain why the lab assistant is lying on the floor dead, and there’s a  hole in the wall leading into the parking lot.

You can’t just read sci-fi and expect to be a well rounded writer. You might find yourself creating awesome aliens, but lacking when it comes to developing a relationship between the hero and heroine.

Reading different genres will make you a stronger writer. You’ll be introduced to new worlds and situations that would never arise in your typical horror, sci-fi, romance, or fantasy. Reading different genres will open your mind and encourage you to take risks that you may have never considered.

If that’s not enough, Reading different genres will also allow you to read as a reader. Instead of focusing on the author’s style, you can simply enjoy the experience of reading 🙂

Hope this helped.

-Jan R

 

 

Romance, Science Fiction, Mystery….You Should Read Them All

That First Sentence: It Matters!

imagesYou want to write a novel, and you have a great idea, but you’re not sure how to start. Everybody knows that first line, that first sentence, is extremely important. It has to be right.

If you’re stuck because of the pressure of crafting the perfect opening line, you’re not alone. And neither is your angst misplaced.

I was reading the blog of one of my favorite authors, Jerry Jenkins, this morning when I ran across this post. I have read it before, but sometimes I think we all just need a refresher. If you’re like me, you have so much information being thrown at you, you can’t possibly retain it all.

Most great opening lines fall into one of four categories.

  • Surprising

Fiction: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”-                George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four

Nonfiction: “By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife       accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree.”-Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American       Man

  • Dramatic Statement

Fiction: “They shoot the white girl first.” – Toni Morrison, Paradise

Nonfiction: “I was five years old the first time I ever set foot in prison.” – Jimmy                  Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand

  • Philosophical

Fiction: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own              way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Nonfiction: “It’s not about you.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

  • Poetic

Fiction: “When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer            with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of      Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. -James              Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

Nonfiction: “The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western                Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.'” -Truman Capote, In Cold        Blood.

This link will take you to some more great opening lines, and one of Jerry Jenkins’s blogs. Here’s a list of famous openers.

Hope this helped!

Jan R

That First Sentence: It Matters!

Stay Active! (Repost)

Active vs. PassiveI know I’m suppose to write in the active voice, but why? What is the difference between active voice and passive voice and why does it matter?

In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of  the sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice the subject receives the action.

Jan loves Danny. Jan is the subject and she is performing the action of loving Danny.

Jan is loved by Danny. Jan is the subject, but she’s doing nothing. She is the recipient of Danny’s love.

Sentences in active voice are  more concise than those in passive voice, because fewer words are required to express action in active voice than in passive voice, making the sentence stronger.

Many a Tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is or could be heard.

There was a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground. Vs Dead leaves covered the ground.

At dawn, the crowing of a rooster could be heard. Vs The cock’s crow came with dawn.

After reading the previous sentences, what do you think? Active or Passive? I would definitely go with active 🙂

This is yet another area I am working on. And while the rule is to go with the active voice, it doesn’t mean you should entirely discard the passive voice. Sometimes it is necessary.

-Jan R

Stay Active! (Repost)