November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and last year, I wrote one novel and started another.
This year, I’m going to write one novel, but every day, I’m going to post what I’ve just written to this blog. My regular features will be suspended during November, so if I’m in the middle of a piece of short fiction on Fridays, it’ll resume on the first Friday in December.
I won’t have much time to revise, so there will be typos and probably plotholes in the story.
Pistol: Why, then the world’s mine oyster.
Which I with sword will open.
William Shakespeare — The Merry Wives of Windsor, act 2, scene 2
There are no rules about POV. That’s right, there really aren’t any.
In this post about Starting NaNoWriMo, I said that I was struggling with third person narration in a book with lots of point of view (POV) switching. As I reread my words from what seemed like a long time ago, I realized that there was no reason I couldn’t use first person narration or even use a mix of both styles.
There are no rules about POV. There’s the writer, and there’s the story, and that’s it. Since stories need people to write them down, the writer gets the fun and enviable task of deciding which POV to use.
First person is a very “in the character’s head” kind of POV. It can make some things challenging, such as describing events that the character wouldn’t know about, or not being all that pleasant if the character is self-centered, but there are also advantages. You can really get to know a character from the inside, and transitions are easier because you don’t have to keep zooming the “point” of third person POV in and out to focus on different characters, settings, and action.
Third person narration lets the storyteller become omniscient, and who doesn’t enjoy knowing everything?! However, third person doesn’t always work well, and if used ineffectively, can make the story read very clumsily indeed. If used well, third person can make your fiction captivate your readers.
You might be wondering, since there aren’t any rules, how do you choose the best POV for your story? The one-word answer is: experimentation. I wrote an entire novel in the third person, only to realize that parts of it needed to be in the first. I went back and changed every single “he” to “I.” I also had to change a bunch of “him” to “me,” but it was worth it. The character experiences events in a very internal way, and third person just could not get me deep enough inside his head for that to capture properly. There’s also no problem if POV shifts, as long as the transitions are smooth and clear. When I tell that same story from other characters’ points of view, I switch to third person and it all benefits the story.
As for my science fiction novel with third person throughout, I’m now toying with the idea of changing some of it into first person POV or maybe even all of it. I can use scene or chapter breaks for the switches, and having a lot of characters really isn’t a problem like I originally thought.
POV is a tool. You can do whatever you want with POV. It’s flexible and you can shape it any way you like to create the story you want and need to tell. There really are no rules, and the (fictional) world is your oyster. So get your keyboard or pen, pick up your pages or open that file, and start thinking about POV and how it can work best for your stories.
Because it’s May 4, I want to talk about science fiction, even though this post has nothing to do with Star Wars.
In November 2019, my NaNoWriMo novel was a sci-fi story called On Ice. It’s still in the freezer, waiting for me to take it out and revise it, but while it’s coming up to room temperature, I’d like to talk about the genre in general.
When I read sci-fi, I’m sometimes unconvinced. I think that sci-fi has great potential, but often it seems like the story is buried beneath military-style space travel, or it’s so technical that it becomes impossible to find human nature in it. There’s certainly room for talking about piloting ships and exploring the boundaries between humans and machines, but I think the mundane everyday aspects of people’s lives are often missing or underrepresented. In a universe of possibility, we need to find a balance between exploring the frontiers of technology, life, and existence, and the daily grind that I am sure even robots feel.
Besides daily life, sci-fi stories should always include relationships between characters, and also explore how those characters cope with space travel, high levels of technology, and machines with intelligence that rivals their own. How do the characters overcome hardship, become better people or robots, and how do they come to terms with the world (or worlds) around them?
There’s a lot of writing advice out there. Following some guidelines, such as the ones in my post about dialog attribution might make your writing more pleasant to read, but don’t let writing advice bog you down.
Things can be fixed later. There’s no need to wait until your idea is perfect, or until you’ve mastered all the conflicting writing advice in the world. If you try, you’ll never write another word. You can revise your rough draft, and even then, a book is not a perfect thing.
The true goal of writing is to tell a story, not to be perfect or even amazing. Sure, having your writing considered great would be nice, but the ultimate purpose of writing fiction for an audience is to tell a story. Starting may be a struggle. You might be uncertain of what you want to write, and there may be a voice inside your mind telling you that this won’t work or that that sentence you just wrote is bad. You might feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. That’s okay. It doesn’t matter. Just keep writing. Write until the end of the story you are telling. Write until the end. You can and should take breaks to eat, sleep, and do other things, but do not neglect your story until you’ve reached the end. (You can write the actual words “the end” and then remove them later, or just say them out loud while you save your document.)
So here’s my advice for today. Get your favorite pen or keyboard, find a good place to work, and start to write. In the words of NaNoWriMo, “the world needs your story.”
This is the first Indie April for me as a new author. I have heard mixed opinions about self-publishing, and this blog post is an examination of some of them.
Is it hard work, or is it just vanity? You may have heard the term “vanity publishing,” meaning that anybody with money can have a book published. It is true that money is needed, and it’s also possible for anybody to publish a book. So depending on the Author, it could involve hard work, vanity, or both. Most Authors put their heart and soul into their books. This can be both a good and a bad thing. The writer knows the story or the topic, but often, they don’t see the big picture and don’t realize there are plot holes, typos, or other problems with the book. Hiring an Editor is a good way to fix those things, and many Authors do so.
There are also different reasons people have for publishing a book. Some may want to do so as a project with their kids, and I think this is a great educational project. If you’d like more information for young writers, please visit
Another reason people self-publish is to see their name on a book. Call it vanity, call it a dream come true, or call it good news because books written in “vanity” might turn out to be great reads!
No matter how you’re published, you still need to do the hard work of writing. Yes, you pay an Editor to edit your work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do any more work. Sure, you could accept all of the changes without even reading through your manuscript, but Editors are human beings, and they could have misunderstood something you wrote, asked a question in their comments that you might want to answer by rewriting part of a chapter, or they might have made a typo.
No matter what their reasons are for publishing a book, almost all Authors engage in hard work at every step of the publication process. Furthermore, hard work and vanity are not mutually exclusive.
Many Authors write because they love to do so. Writing a book can be great fun, and even though it is also work, it’s rewarding, and I think that very few people write for money alone. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, and it takes patience and practice, just like any other skill. The first song you played on the guitar probably sounded about as good as the first short story you wrote; hesitant, with a lot of pauses and some strange notes, but it was your first, and it started you down the road to playing that song that had your audience sellbound, or that book that won several literary awards. Yes, there may be people who publish that first draft of their first story and then, once they’re holding a copy of it in their hands, never write another word, but they may find they enjoy writing. It may also be that that one story was the one they needed to tell, even if it may not be considered the best or even good, it was a personal experience that person needed to have. Readers have a choice to buy the book or not, and because anybody can publish a book, it means there’s always going to be something good for everyone.
If you’re thinking about writing a book, pick up a pen and some paper, or open a blank document. No matter what your reasons are for wanting to do so, today is the day, whatever the hour, now is the moment.
Today, I finished the first draft of Be a Movie Star, the second novel I started after finished my first NaNoWriMo draft in two weeks. The second novel took me much longer, but I now have a first draft, and it hit 165K words. I originally called it a romance, but it’s more a family life novel with some romance. I have no idea how many years it will take me to revise this thing, but if I ever do, I’ll let you know.
After week four, “Be a Movie Star” is 86,989 words. That’s fairly long, and I know it’s going to be a lot of work to revise this thing, but the first draft is not finished yet. There are twenty chapters so far, but I still have a long way to go. It feels like I haven’t met my writing goal because the novel won’t be finished this month. I am in love with the characters and the story, and I will keep writing it after November 30.
At the end of week two, I had already written 50,000 words and had completed the first draft of “On Ice.”
This week, I started a second novel, called “Be a Movie Star.” During the last seven days, I have written 47,426 of it. It’s going a lot faster than “On Ice,” which was science fiction. “Be a Movie Star” is a book about daily life, and is a lot easier to write than the extremes of “On Ice.” I’m also a Pantser, and I find it hard to write sci-fi as I go. “On Ice” is also in the third person, because I needed to switch back and forth to cover what different characters were doing, and “Be a Movie Star” is in first person.
I find first person easier to write because I can move seamlessly from inside the character’s head to the action around them. Which person do you prefer to write in? Please leave me a comment.
genre: some kind of family and relationships romance thing
personal goal for the project: no violence, and only minor accidents
I finished “On Ice” in fourteen days and am starting a second NaNoWriMo project.
synopsis: Natasha loves her job, and when she meets Peter, who has two children from a previous marriage, she thinks she’s a winner; what could be better than an instant family? She keeps putting in those twelve-hour days at the office, but then disaster strikes. Peter meets a movie star, falls in love, and suddenly, Natasha has to give up the job she loves and try to be a single mother to two kids who desperately miss their dad and barely know Natasha.