Original fiction project – week of 12/06/2009

Well, I did it. I started writing. I limited myself to ten minutes a day, in the morning, after exercise and breakfast and during coffee, which kind of helped me focus my mind, although the result is less right-brained perhaps than true bleary-eyed morning pages.

Not that the words I managed to plunk out are any kind of masterpiece, mind you, and they don’t have to be. My goal this week was just to get actual fiction dribbling from my fingertips, as opposed to meta-fictional dithering. That dithering at least gave me an idea of how I wanted the story to start, which gave me something to write about for ten minutes as I added to the story each day. So, yay me. At some point soon, I will hit the limits of what I was willing to outline in advance, and then we will see where the characters take me.

Yes, I like this much better than outlining the whole friggin’ thing, or even most of it, in advance.

There were some difficulties, though. As I mentioned in other updates on this new story, it is a fantasy story involving spirit beings from some kind of Elsewhere who have taken human form on Earth. My “Earth” is very much the Earth we see around us everyday, so no one knows there are spirit beings among them. And I want the discovery of that fact to be something the reader experiences along with the human characters in the novel. Which means I can’t write from the POV of any of the spirit beings, at least initially, unless it is in some cryptic manner that doesn’t give away their true nature.

But the very first scene of the story opens on a spirit being in human form, running scared up the street, the apparent victim of a crime. None of my human POV characters have entered the story yet. So who’s point of view do I write it from?

If you’ve read the Harry Potter series, you know that nearly the entire thing is written from Harry’s POV, to the point where Rowling won’t show private conversations between other characters unless Harry is surreptitiously listening in. There are only a couple of exceptions to this in her series.

I am trying to limit the number of points of view I write from, ’cause I tend to go overboard with that, but since I can’t write from the point of view of my spirit beings, I will have to pick a Random Stranger on the street who sees my character. Probably the shopkeeper that gives her a place to hide briefly.

But given that this particular spirit being character is new to Earth and has no frame of reference for it, I am writing it for the moment from her point of view, so I can understand her mental states and therefore know what she is likely to do. Later, I can rewrite it from the observer’s point of view. She is going to be an interesting, if bizarre, idiot-savant kind of character.

No word counts, I don’t find them useful.

14 thoughts on “Original fiction project – week of 12/06/2009

  1. who’s pov is always a challenge. I’m at that point now with my nano novel which has been told from the two main characters with one or two scenes from the brother but i’m at the point where i need to see things from another detectives eyes yet I’m hesistant to write it
    looking at what you have here I think you probably should try to write that first scene thru the spirit’s eyes, especially if she’ll be in contact with the other main characters in the novel

  2. Yeah, but how do I write through her eyes without giving the whole thing away? If she’s not from here, if she’s from some other place, it’d be natural she’d be comparing what she sees to home and it would give the whole “twist” of the novel away.
    Unless, of course, I’m deliberately cryptic, which often just comes across as incomprehensible.

  3. If you’re planning on keeping her identity secret, I’d think her point of view is the last thing you’d want to start from. I think I’d go straight 3rd person omniscient with an acceptably cute reveal at the right moment. What the character thinks and feels would certainly give everything away if it’s worth writing. I’d get away from that now, and not try to rewrite later.

  4. I don’t do third person omniscent, as a rule. I feel more comfortable taking a point of view, adopting a character voice. I’m still leaning towards the shop keeper.

  5. is she being chased? It’s easy to get lose in a big city if one moves off the usual track. You could incorporate the idea of being lost and trying to escape and only later realize why things weren’t familiar to this person

  6. No, she was able to subdue her attacker (they have powers), and now she’s trying to find others like herself. She knows, at least she assumes, that she has somehow been transported into our world, but not having been here before she doesn’t know anything about it, nor does she know how to get back. So she’s searching for others like herself to help her, but doesn’t have a clue where to find them, and can’t really make sense of most of what she sees, since their world is more or less “incorporeal.”
    If we were in her head, the only coherent thoughts and images would be of her home, and her alienness here.

  7. hmm yes i see your issue. Well could you do what you needed to from the point of view of an outside character other than her? Would it be possible that one of the other main characters are in that area and witness part of it?

  8. My observation from working with you on some past writing projects is that– strictly in my opinion, now– you seem to be a bit too afraid of confusing readers, when in fact many readers enjoy being confused, as long as everything is ultimately explained and the logic hangs together. If this wasn’t true, there wouldn’t be shows/stories like Lost.
    I’d consider the cryptic, even if as an exercise for now, although I admit this might be harder if you don’t have a full outline of where you’re going with the entire story.
    I agree that the third person omniscent is not always as involving as character POVs, although I personally like to have several different character POVs rather than just one in most cases.
    Huh– just thinking right now how many POVs there are in Lost. Is that a record of some kind? Hee…

  9. Once upon a time, I wanted to keep who and what my hero was a secret to be revealed when the heroine finds out. Small problem. That doesn’t happen until around page 150. Who and what the hero is is part of my hook. You can’t wait until page 150 to give the hook, especially in the paranormal/Urban fantasy genre. The general reader will only take so much normalcy. They want world building up front. Agents want anything from the first 5 pages to the first three chapters. The world building needs to be in there.
    Now that the hero is paranormal is given up front, though exactly who and what he is remains something to reveal later. The big reveal isn’t that he’s paranormal, but how does the heroine find this out. That’s what will keep the reader reading. That’s what will draw her and the agent/editor in to my world.
    If this creature is the main character, the reader is going to want her POV. If you don’t give it, the reader will wonder why and may feel distanced from the character.
    Just something to consider.

  10. Figuring out where to start a story is one of the most difficult choices, right up there with POV. Most authors advise to start at the point where everything changes. Jennifer Cruisie says there are five turning points. She considers the inciting incident to be one. Start as close to that point as possible. A character running down a street is exciting, but is that where the story truly begins? That first scene does a lot and sets up the reader’s expectations. The writer makes all sorts of promises with it and the book should fulfill those promises. If you are writing a paranormal or science fiction, the reader wants some element of that up front; it’s part of the genre expectation a writer better have a darn good reason not to meet.
    It sounds to me like this scene is important for you so you understand what’s happening, but it doesn’t feel like an opening scene if a POV character isn’t in it. Who is your main character? When do things change for him/her? That’s your beginning.

  11. I tend to shift between character POVs using a third-person subjective POV as I switch from scene to scene, so that each scene is written from a single character’s POV and you are in different character’s heads through out the story. Partly because it is point of view itself that is always something I am playing with in a story, how different people perceive the same thing.
    That said, this particular character is meant to be a cipher to the other characters and part of the charm of her is we don’t know what her story is, just like the other characters. She is a puzzle for them to solve. So I hesitate ever entering her point of view, although well-written, one slip inside her head before putting her in “puzzle” status could be intriguing.

  12. Since this girl is not the main character, I think that’s less of a problem for me. She is a puzzle that two of the other characters must figure out, but she is always meant to be more object than subject in the story, one of the “clues” leading to the supernatural reveal.

  13. The main character meets this odd woman moments later. We open with the odd woman running, apparently the victim of a crime, then ending up in my main character’s place of business, where that changes everything for her, because this character brings back memories of childhood she has tried to forget. But if I open the story with the odd girl walking into my main character’s place of business without giving some hints of where she has just been moments before, it’s less intriguing to the reader.

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