Monday, June 2, 2008

Don't Jump

by David G. Woolley

Don't jump. Its good advice for people who work in tall buildings. Its also good advice for anyone who would like to write some fiction. Some habits are hard to break including jumping from head to head. If your heroine is feeling an emotion that begs for a line or two of introspection, but you began the scene in the hero's point of view, do something I call RUJ: Resist the Urge to Jump. Use a line of dialogue, settle on some bit of creative action for your non-point-of-view character. Maybe a snippet of description will do the trick, anything that conveys the emotion without jumping. And without explaining the emotion.

You will be richly rewarded for not taking a leap. Initially the only perceptible payoff is less confusion for the reader. But over time you'll notice that your scenes have a much deeper dramatic impact on the reader because you begin to employ internal dialogue that only your point of view character would employ. You begin to think like your character. And then you begin to foreshadow the subtle motivations that prod your character to action.

Even more rewarding than a deeper understanding of your character is the development of what is fawningly referred to as voice. They say you can't develop your ability to achieve a voice for your character. It is said that its a gift, a talent, a genetic endowment from an ancestor of literature prodigy fame. I say fooey. You can develop your voice. The first step is selecting a point of view character and sticking with her through thick and thin to the end of the scene. But then what?

What do you do once you've committed to endure to the end in a single point of view and still your scene lacks a powerful voice? How do you transform a lackluster chapter with a thin voice into a dramatic marvel? Join me Wednesday, June 4th, and I'll share two observations that may help you recognize some sublte tendencies that tend to dampen a strong voice. Its a blog to which I'm applying the working title: Little Green Dwarfs.

Until Wednesday, may your writing be filled with all sorts of twists and turns. And my your hard drive never go belly up.


Join author David G. Woolley at his Top of the Morning Blog or his Promised Land Website


Rebecca Talley said...

You are so right. I have a very difficult time as a reader jumping from head to head. In fact, I won't choose to read a book if I know it'll be head jumping.

You've taught me so much about POV and showing vs. telling. Thank you :)

David G. Woolley said...

Hey FHE Sister:

Good to know there is an author out there reading something. And thanks for stopping by the Top of the Morning blog as well.

How is everything going these days? Writing anything? Do you RUJ?

Just wondering.

All the best,

David G. Woolley