Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

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wordranger
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Online Writing Workshops--Switching POV's--Show Vs Tell

Post by wordranger » November 11th, 2010, 9:49 pm

No apologies needed!

Digression of this kind is great! This is what I am working on right now, and SGF is one of my critique/reading buddies, so digress away!

Let me ask you your opinion...

I have a chapter that starts from the point of view of a child. He is speaking to an adult, and during the conversation, the adult pauses, and starts thinking how different this child is from the other children in his class. He basically "digresses" from their conversation, and thinks about how the child has been treated unfairly, and is a great kid. You know what... here is exactly what he thinks (excerpt below). From this point on, the rest of the chapter is told from the point of view of the instructor. I think this works, but is this an odd shift? I have what I read as a "time shift" sentence that starts the section, but there is no break. It just flows this way from the last verbal exchange by the two. The Instructor was the last person who made a comment, which was a compliment to the boy, and then the transition to the adult's POV...

They spoke for some time, Magellan asking questions, and Candor answering as truthfully as was legal. Instructor Candor found he respected this young man more than he expected to. He had taught many young princes before, and found them rude, arrogant, and uninterested. Most had their lives already planned out for them, and how they faired in the academy would make no difference in their futures whatsoever.
This young man, though, had no special breeding or family name to fall back on. He would have to fight for everything. He would earn respect, while the princes just expected it. He was straightforward, sure of himself, and had a sense of leadership and understanding about him that surpassed his years. This young man was quite different indeed.


This is the shift that changes the POV from the boy to the instructor. Does this work flowing freely, or do I need a more concrete break? This actually leads into a big action scene that is told through the adult's eyes. If I have to break it with a space between the paragraphs, I will, but I kind of like it the way it is.

Any thoughts?
Words are your friend.
Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

Jennifer Eaton, WordRanger
My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

Take a Step into My World and Learn From My Mistakes http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

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polymath
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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by polymath » November 11th, 2010, 10:49 pm

Candor's compliment to Magellan might evoke a response from Magellan that sets up the viewpoint transition and flows into the excerpt, Magellan's response/reaction in some way related then to Candor's causal compliment and the resulting introspective assessment of Magellan. Anyway, that would preserve causation. Candor's compliment a cause, Magellan's reaction to the compliment the effect, that in turn causes Candor's introspective assessment of Magellan.

The way I read the excerpt that would flow right into the pronoun "they" encompassing both parties "spoke for some time," and reporting Magellan asking questions and then Candor answering, which transitions smoothly right into Candor's thoughts and, again, preserves causation while completing the viewpoint transition, from the they of the discussion to Magellan's role to Candor's role.

The excerpt as it is smoothly closes narrative distance right into Candor's thoughts.
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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by GeeGee55 » November 14th, 2010, 11:08 pm

Your remarks on Grisham's narrative helped make it an especially interesting read for me, Polymath. POV slides from character to character, all carefully controlled. At one point we leave the room where the two men are talking and go to the POV of the character in another room (the Minister's wife). It made me see that reading the work of a popular author to study one particular aspect of craft can be very enlightening. I was thinking if I presented something like that in a workshop, most of the people there would tell me it was wrong and I should redo it from one POV. Would you call this omniscient?

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wordranger
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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by wordranger » November 14th, 2010, 11:49 pm

When I write, I frequently start a scene from the POV of one character.

Then a different character leaves the room, and we sort of "follow him out" and then you get a different point of view in a new scene.

I think it works, because there is an obvious switch because the original character is no longer there. I've caught myself switching POV inappropriately, too, though. I thought it sounded weird, but I left it thinking that I was writing "omniscient"... but people have called me on it so I'm trying to be more careful...

But a well. thought out change in POV works... but is not always completely OMNISCIENT
Words are your friend.
Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

Jennifer Eaton, WordRanger
My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

Take a Step into My World and Learn From My Mistakes http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

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polymath
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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by polymath » November 15th, 2010, 12:43 am

GeeGee55 wrote:Your remarks on Grisham's narrative helped make it an especially interesting read for me, Polymath. POV slides from character to character, all carefully controlled. At one point we leave the room where the two men are talking and go to the POV of the character in another room (the Minister's wife). It made me see that reading the work of a popular author to study one particular aspect of craft can be very enlightening. I was thinking if I presented something like that in a workshop, most of the people there would tell me it was wrong and I should redo it from one POV. Would you call this omniscient?
Thank you, GeeGee55,

I'm inclined to say it fits what many writers' views of omniscient is. However, what I see in the Grisham excerpt is a covert narrator selectively reporting semi-objectively from psychic access to multiple characters thoughts with psychic motility, an ability to move about the setting as if from several cameras or a mobile camera. Omniscient in my sense of the term is access to all thoughts. Selective psychic access and motility according to the needs of plot flow are the keys in my estimation to understanding reporting multiple viewpoint characters in scenes. Or in the case of the Grisham excerpt as wordranger notes, scene slices, each from one of several cameras with each viewpoint representing one camera, one scene segment of the larger scene.

On another note, I too have encountered workshop comments that indict methods similar to Grisham's. There's that writing principle taken to the extreme of prescriptive rule labeling that gets in writers' ways. The only way to get past it in my opinion is to investigate how accomplished authors contravene the so-called rules with remarkable dramatic effect. I firmly believe that's how writers used to develop their craft not so long ago. And Grisham, after Rowling, earns the next highest revenues from fiction writing, though like her the bulk of his earnings come from film rights.
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Mel
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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by Mel » November 16th, 2010, 10:36 am

Getting back to your original question about workshops. I have taken a bunch through Gotham. writingclasses.com. The workshops are very organized and well put together. Normally, there are about 10 people in the class, plus the instructor and generally the feedback is very helpful.

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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by Steppe » November 16th, 2010, 5:11 pm

Nice example and high quality exposition on the narrative movements.
On craft I liked how he got the reader into a stuffy room from a winter street fast.
Then he places the desk in the center of the room for the readers convenience to picture the stage.
In the narration the author puts his money on the table when the new arrival lingers to long internally on the woman's appearance;
making it obvious his writing is decaying or he is filtering the mans content as part of moving the plot development forward towards a full portrait of the man.
The excerpt was 3700 words and crisp enough to bring me close to my maximum reading speed without being conscious of words and only seeing imagery and hearing dialogue. He does start off with dialogue but tempers the risky maneuver with a very wide to small tight quick establishing shot of the season, the location, general time of day as morning shoveling chores and then a lightening quick movement to a plain well drawn interior stage so he can unleash the characterizations and begin outlining the stakes and possible next developments.

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polymath
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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by polymath » November 16th, 2010, 7:55 pm

I'm reluctant to make a movie analogy about the Grisham excerpt because frequently projects in progress I read read like a report of a film, secondhand if not thirdhand reporting like a report of a book report. However, Grisham in my considered opinion writes so that his novels readily translate into film, so here goes.

I conceptualize Grisham as author-director standing in the foyer of the film stage, behind the camera persons, behind the cameras, directing the cameras, camera persons, and the actors. Action.

First sequence; Custodian shoveling sidewalk snow. Custodian looks up.
Second sequence; Body shot of Boyette underdressed for the cold. Shot of Boyette walking in door labled office.
Third sequence; Office interior, zoom in on desk, nameplate, receptionist.
Fourth sequence; Head shot of Boyette speaking.
Fifth sequence; Head shot of Schroeder speaking.
Sixth sequence; Body shot of Boyette, zoom in head shot of Boyette speaking.
Seventh sequence; Zoom in on nameplate. Pan up to head shot of Schroeder speaking.
Eighth sequence; Shot of empty chair. Pan to head shot of Boyette speaking.

And so on, back and forth between shots of speakers and then shots of what they see and hear that gives them things to think about and react to, and their thoughts. It's a colloquy dialogue, some question and answer dialogue, some echo dialogue with a judicious portion of soliloquy-like internal discourse leavened in, both perception and cognition. The big four writing modes prevail, sensation, introspection, conversation, and action, of course, with description, narration, emotion, summarization, exposition, recollection, explanation, and transition underpinning the former.

I know the background of the novel from promotional pitches, that it's about a confession meant to save a condemned and falsely convicted man from execution. The title is what it's about. I'm already engaged. Grisham can take his time getting around to fully realizing the main dramatic complication, but it's introduced in the excerpt as coming up. I imagine before the first chapter's end, the confession is fully out in the open, and Schroeder is overwhelmed by it and suggests Boyette speak to someone else, which sets up a jump transition to the next chapter opening. Anyway, I'm on the reserve list at the library waiting my turn. In a couple months I'll have read the novel, dissected it, and contemplated it at length.
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AlexWolfe
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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by AlexWolfe » November 20th, 2010, 10:26 pm

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm very biased because I graduated from Odyssey and got a lot out of it, but I would seriously consider checking out their online classes. Jeanne was an editor for Bantam for a long time and knows what she's talking about. More importantly, she has the rare combination of knowledge AND a PASSION for teaching. I can't recommend her enough as a teacher and a person.

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Re: Writing Workshops? -- POV changes -- Show Vs Tell

Post by TambraKendall » December 4th, 2010, 12:51 am

Hi,

Just joined the Forums but I'd like to add to this discussion.

Savvy Authors offers a nice variety of workshops. I'm one of the instructors and I've taken a course there as well and received wonderful research information for the month long workshop.

NYT Bestselling author, Angela Knight offers workshops and I've taken more than one from her. Her workshop on writing fight scenes is great and that's one of the things she's known for in her books.

Romance Writers of America chapters have online workshops on a variety of topics and you don't have to be an RWA member to take the classes.

I won't be teaching for Savvy Authors until the summer of 2011 on The Basics of Romance Writing and then in the fall on Plot and Characterization. One course I've taught, How to Write Erotic Love Scenes, I've offered a two-page crit for the participants. I don't tell them everything that's wrong but the major things like POV and show don't tell. I've been teaching and editing enough years I know who's a newbie who is farther up the line in knowing the craft.

I hope some of you find this information helpful.

Best,
Tambra Kendall

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