Ninja Writers Academy: Writing Beats

Ninja Writer Academy is a weekly series. Every Saturday morning, I post a lesson here. You can do the work, then come share it on our Facebook group. I’ll be on Facebook on Sunday for Office Hours so we can discuss the lesson, or anything else writing related. If you’d like to join the Academy and get an email on Saturday with a link to the lesson, plus notification when Office Hours start, Click Here.

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The Little Things Assignment

Ninja Writers AcademyThe Little Things Assignment

Last week we talked about attributing your dialogue. Today I want to go a little deeper into the idea of using beats to enhance, direct, and clarify your dialogue.

A beat is a small bit of action that is attached to a line of dialogue. Instead of writing ‘she said’ or ‘he asked’, a beat not only lets the reader know who is speaking, it builds the scene by giving the reader a visual. A beat can also help with character and setting development.

It’s always a good thing when your writing is multi-purpose. A straight up attribution does one thing: it tells the reader who is speaking. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Hump Day Writing Post #16: The Kiss

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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The Kiss

Hump Day Prom

Reading Truman Capote’s novella ruined the movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s for me. (If you ever want to read a truly perfect story, pick up this one.) Even though the book is a thousand times better than the movie, the film version still has one of my most favorite Hollywood kisses of all time. Everything about the end shot of the film is just right–the rain, the silly wet cat, Audrey Hepburn’s face, Moonriver playing in the background, and that kiss.

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Ninja Writers Academy: Attributing Dialogue

Ninja Writer Academy is a weekly series. Every Saturday morning, I post a lesson here. You can do the work, then come share it on our Facebook group. I’ll be on Facebook on Sunday for Office Hours so we can discuss the lesson, or anything else writing related. If you’d like to join the Academy and get an email on Saturday with a link to the lesson, plus notification when Office Hours start, Click Here.

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The Who Said What Assignment

Ninja Writers Academy-The Who Said What Assignment

Whenever I ask what Ninjas would most like to learn about writing, dialogue always comes up. It’s one of those things that is both super important and often difficult. I thought we’d take the next few weeks and break writing dialogue down to a few elements.

Let’s start with attribution.

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Hump Day Prompt #15: Meltdown

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Meltdown

Hump Day Prompt #14Meltdown

I found a list of “power words” online, closed my eyes, and randomly picked one for today’s prompt. Here’s what we got, Ninjas:

Meltdown.

Fun, right?

Write something to do with your current work-in-progress, using the word meltdown as inspiration.

Maybe you could write one of your characters having a meltdown.

Or your characters might have to deal with the meltdown of a relationship.

What about a meltdown of their physical health or the health of someone they care about?

Just have fun with this one.

My Turn

My WIP is a Robin Hood re-telling set in modern Las Vegas. What came to me when I thought about this prompt was my Sheriff of Nottingham character, Philip Mark. Philip is the business partner of my protagonist’s father, John. Philip wants what he wants so badly, so single mindedly, that he’s become a full on villain to get it. He couldn’t have John, not the way he wanted to, so he’s determined to have all of John’s casino. His legacy.

And Rob constantly thwarts him. Philip expects Rob to be easy to deal with. He’s a pampered, aristocratic kid after all who has had far, far more than he deserves just handed to him by virtue of his birth. The anger and frustration he felt over his conflicted feelings about John transfers into a dangerous level of animosity toward Rob.

Here’s a scene here Rob sees, for the first time, how deeply disturbed Philip is. Philip has just told Rob’s best friend Mattie (my Maid Marion character) and her father that they have to leave their bungalow at the casino.

“You can’t do this,” Rob said. “My dad wouldn’t want you to do this.”

Philip stopped walking. He turned slowly back to face Rob. When he spoke, his voice was low. “Do you think that you know better than I do what your father would want me to do?”

Rob took a half-step back from the fevered look in Philip’s pale eyes. “What?”

“I said, ‘do you think that you know better than I do what your father would want me to do?'”

Right. Rob heard him the first time. The second time didn’t help. “Frank and Mattie have lived here for more than ten years.”

Philip looked from Rob to Frank. “You have until the end of the week.”

“No.” Rob stood up. “No, this isn’t right. They don’t have to leave.”

Philip put his hands on the back of a dining room chair, his knuckles went white. “They have until the end of the goddamned week.”

“The will says they can stay, as long as one of them is working here. Even that doesn’t sound like my dad, if you ask me, but it’s what the attorney read.” Rob went to stand with Mattie, who had an arm around Frank. Looked like she was the only thing holding the old man up.

Before he reached her, the chair Philip had been holding flew past Mattie. She ducked, pulling Frank down with her, and the chair landed like an explosion against the kitchen counter. The coffee pot broke and spilled coffee down the cupboards onto the floor, and the canisters of flour and sugar fell over.

Worse than the mess and destruction, Philip let loose a wordless scream that made Mattie actually cover her ears with her hands. Rob couldn’t find his own voice. He moved to Mattie, pushed her away from the counter, further from Philip.

The front door opened and Guy came in, first barreling through like he was headed to a fight, then coming to a skidding stop when Philip screamed again and reached for another chair. The chair was in the air when Guy reached his uncle. As soon as he took it away, Philip’s temper tantrum deflated. He actually looked to Rob like a balloon losing it’s air.

Philip looked confused first, his mouth opened and closed like a fish’s and he looked from Guy to Rob and back again. Then his leathery, too-deeply tanned skin flushed from under his tie, over his neck, right up over his face. His mouth hardened into a flat line before he said through his teeth, “You have a week.”

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know! Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with! Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links. Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

 

 

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Ninja Writers Academy: Upgrading Adverbs

Ninja Writer Academy is a weekly series. Every Saturday morning, I post a lesson here. You can do the work, then come share it on our Facebook group. I’ll be on Facebook on Sunday for Office Hours so we can discuss the lesson, or anything else writing related. If you’d like to join the Academy and get an email on Saturday with a link to the lesson, plus notification when Office Hours start, Click Here.

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The -ly Assignment

Ninja Writers Academy-Upgrading AdverbsThe -ly Assignment

I thought that we’d talk about a technical aspect of writing this week. Adverbs.

You know adverbs, right? Those pesky -ly verb-describing words that are so easy to use and so often overused. They’re too easy.

She moved quickly.

He yelled loudly.

Mary believed strongly that–

Frank doubled over miserably.

Sometimes these adverbs are okay, even necessary. But lots of the time, they’re cop outs. They are simple words you use instead of opening up a scene and letting the reader in more deeply. Or they are weak words you use instead of finding the right strong word.

It can be as simple as: She ran.

Or: She bolted. She sped. She jerked. She slid.

He yelled loudly? Is there another way? He yelled, just that, is stronger.

If you need more, describe the tone of his voice.

He yelled, his voice raising in a crescendo to a pitch only dogs could hear.

Or describe the effect his yelling has on the person he’s yelling at.

He yelled and she froze, like a deer in the headlights.

For this week’s homework, I’d love for you to do a search through your manuscript for “ly” and see what comes up. Pick an example and see how you can do better.

My Turn

I’m working on edits for a story called WASTED right now. When I did a search for “ly” I actually found the exact same example as I used above. “He stopped abruptly.” Let’s see what I can do.

When he pushed through the last of the short, shrubby trees, though, he stopped abruptly. There was a fire in the pit. The clearing was already occupied by Smith’s only true homeless person. Sandy the Sketch. That was what his mother used to call him when he asked her for money outside the grocery store. She always gave him a dollar.

In this scene, Noah, who is fourteen, has run away from his grandmother’s house. He goes to a clearing in the mountains where kids in his little Nevada town go to party or just hang out and get stoned. He expects to be alone there, but he stumbles on his community’s only homeless man smoking meth.

So, what’s going on with him when he stops abruptly?

He’s surprised, thrown off balance. His anger is cut by concern for his own safety, when he finds himself all of a sudden alone in a remote, isolated place, with someone who may or may not be dangerous to him.

When he pushed through the last of the short, shrubby trees, though, he stopped like he’d come up against an invisible wall. There was a fire in the pit. The clearing was already occupied by Smith’s only true homeless person. Sandy the Sketch. That was what his mother used to call him when he asked her for money outside the grocery store. She always gave him a dollar.

I like that. It highlights the problem that Noah’s having at the beginning of his story–nearly everything is out of his control. The idea of an invisible wall evokes the idea that there isn’t anywhere for Noah to hide. he can’t stop Sandy from seeing him and he can’t control what Sandy might do now that Noah has shown up.

I think I can do better though.

When he pushed through the last of the short, shrubby trees, though, he slid to a stop and then fell on his ass when a branch swung back and smacked him in the chest. There was a fire in the pit. The clearing was already occupied by Smith’s only true homeless person. Sandy the Sketch. That was what his mother used to call him when he asked her for money outside the grocery store. She always gave him a dollar.

I like this one, too. Maybe even more. It’s physical. It shows that seeing Sandy threw Noah physically off balance. It makes him feel stupid in front of this man who he isn’t sure how to behave with. It shows the reader that Noah is a little clumsy and not quite comfortable in his own skin, which is something pretty common for boys his age. This is my fix.

Your Turn

Here’s your homework this weekend, Ninja!

Are you in this week? Leave a comment here and let me know. Ninja Writers are ALL about the big A word: Accountability. Post here that you’re going to be part of the Academy this week, then do it, Ninja.

Search your manuscript for ‘ly’ adverbs. Pick at least one and make the writing stronger.

Come by Facebook and tell us about your MC’s clan. I’ll be there tomorrow (Sunday) at noon PST for office hours so you can ask any questions you might have.

Please share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and spread the word about the Ninja Academy.

If you haven’t joined the Academy yet, you can click here to do that. It’s totally free–when you sign up, I’ll send you a link every week to the Academy post and an invitation to my Sunday office hours.

If you want some extra accountability for your Academy work, check out the Ninja Writers Kick-in-the-Butt Crew. It’ll help you get it done.

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Hump Day Prompt #14: Description

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Description

Hump Day Post #14Description

My dad and I started a little two-person book club when he was here visiting two weekends ago. Our plan is to work out way through 50 great books at a pace of five per year.

We’re starting with Virginia Woolf’s book To the Lighthouse. We picked the book for the descriptive writing. Woolf loves super long sentences (really, paragraph-long sentences), and has a stream-of-consciousness style of writing that makes her book fairly difficult to read. There is almost no story–this is a purely literary character study. Some books I get lost in. Some books I gulp down. This one I have to take in sips. But that’s okay. The whole point is to read books that stretch us.

Woolf’s descriptive writing, though, my goodness. It’s incredible. Here’s one of my favorite examples:

  • The vast flapping sheet flattened itself out, and each shove of the brush revealed fresh legs, hoops, horses, glistening reds and blues, beautifully smooth, until half the wall was covered with the advertisement of a circus: a hundred horsemen, twenty performing seals, lions, tigers . . . craning forwards, for she was short-sighted, she read it out . . . “will visit this town,” she read.

In one (very long) sentence, Woolf manages to invoke the excitement of the circus and tell us something about the point-of-view character. I can hear the seals and taste the peanuts and imagine seeing Mrs. Ramsay leaning forward, squinting a little because she doesn’t have her glasses.

For this week’s hump day post, I’d love for you to write a paragraph, or maybe a page, using deeply descriptive writing. Use all of your senses. Don’t worry about it moving the story forward for now. Just try to put the reader there.

My Turn

My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. The main setting for the beginning of the story is the Nottingham Casino. For my exercise, I decided to work on a description of the Nott. Rob, my protagonist, starts out the story coming home to the Nott after his father’s death. Here’s a description from his point of view, when he walks into the casino.

After two years away, walking into the Nott was like diving into a pool of familiar. It was a cannonball dive into everything he didn’t even realize he was missing. The casino smelled of beer and cigarettes and people–a combination that should have been off-putting, but wasn’t. His father had gone to great lengths to preserve the mid-century carpeting on the main floor, an unusual gesture in Las Vegas where it was more common to implode an old casino on itself to make room for newer and bigger and more. Just more.

Rob walked between the rows of glittering, beeping, money-eating machines, stepping from medallion to medallion on the old carpet like they were stepping stones without even realizing he was doing it. It was easy now, easier even than it had been just a couple of years ago. When they were small, he and Mattie leaped from one to the next. Now they were spaced as far apart as his stride. They still kept him from drowning. They would keep him afloat until he found her.

With nearly every step, someone stopped him. They touched him; a hand on his shoulder, a hand on his arm, one woman who had worked as a cocktail waitress all of Rob’s life touched his face. They told him how sorry they were. They expressed their condolences–that was the right term. Every touch transferred a few ounces of their grief to him until, by the time he reached the ballroom where the real mourning was taking place, he was staggering under the weight.

“There you are, Robert.”

He turned toward his name, steeling himself for another touch. Another Jack was so loved, he’ll be missed, I’m so sorry. “I need Mattie.”

“Was your flight late? I expected you at least an hour ago.”

Rob tried to focus on his father’s business partner. Philip Mark was older than his father was–had been–by at least twenty years. His hair was pure white, his face looked like it had been baked under the desert sun. “Have you seen Mattie?”

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know! Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with! Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links. Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Ninja Writers Academy: Your Hero’s Allies

Ninja Writer Academy is a weekly series. Every Saturday morning, I post a lesson here. You can do the work, then come share it on our Facebook group. I’ll be on Facebook on Sunday for Office Hours so we can discuss the lesson, or anything else writing related. If you’d like to join the Academy and get an email on Saturday with a link to the lesson, plus notification when Office Hours start, Click Here.

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The Clan Assignment

Ninja Writer Academy-The Clan Assignment

Some relationships are pretty easy to understand.

We all know what a mother is, for instance. Sure a mother/child relationship might be complicated, but if you write that a woman is your character’s mother, you’re not going to have to explain what that means to your reader. We all have mothers and we all know what a mother is.

But, what if your main character has someone in their life who is mother-like? Their best friend’s mother, their foster mother, the lady who runs the corner store and made sure they had enough to eat when they were growing up, their older step-sister who raised them from baby-hood when their dad and her mom abandoned them…the possibilities go on and on.

Someday we might talk about blood family, but today I want to talk about the family that your MC builds for themselves. Their clan. Their tribe. They might have the beginnings of the family they create for themselves in their ordinary world–maybe a best friend or two, for instance, or a teacher/mentor character. Chances are good that as their story advances (especially into Act II) they’ll build those relationships. Their tribe will take shape or expand or both.

So, today, I’d like you think about those clan characters. The ones who aren’t the focus of this story, but who play an important part to your MC. These are their allies, the people they have to learn to trust if they’re going to survive their ordeal.

My Turn

My work in progress is a Robin Hood retelling, so I have an obvious clan direction to take. My MC, Rob, starts the story by rebuilding a relationship with his best friend, who hasn’t seen in a while. Mattie is my Maid Marion character. He’ll also have to develop relationships with the outlaws who will become his Merry Men.

Rob starts the story by returning home from boarding school after learning that his father, his only living parent, has died. He’s cut completely adrift, with no blood family now. This causes him to cling tighter to his relationship with Mattie and her father and leaves him in a position to fall into the clan he winds up building later.

Your Turn

Here’s your homework this weekend, Ninja!

Are you in this week? Leave a comment here and let me know. Ninja Writers are ALL about the big A word: Accountability. Post here that you’re going to be part of the Academy this week, then do it, Ninja.

Make some notes about your MC’s clan. If they don’t have a clan, think about that. Why not? Would giving them at least one person to build that family-tight relationship with add something to your story?

Come by Facebook and tell us about your MC’s clan. I’ll be there tomorrow (Sunday) at noon PST for office hours so you can ask any questions you might have.

Please share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and spread the word about the Ninja Academy.

If you haven’t joined the Academy yet, you can click here to do that. It’s totally free–when you sign up, I’ll send you a link every week to the Academy post and an invitation to my Sunday office hours.

If you want some extra accountability for your Academy work, check out the Ninja Writers Kick-in-the-Butt Crew. It’ll help you get it done.

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Hump Day Prompt #13: Dread

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Dread

Hump Day Post #13Dread

Let’s think about a word today: DREAD.

It’s a verb that means to anticipate with great apprehension or fear. It can also be a noun that refers to the actual apprehension or fear itself.

A dread is something you know you have to do, but–please, God–you don’t want to. You really don’t want to. When I think about dread, I think about that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The way it can make it hard to take a good breath. I think about the blood leaving my limbs, leaving my hands and feet cold and tingly. The way reality sort of splits apart when I finally just do it, and for a minute I’m certain I won’t survive. The adrenaline that courses through you and helps you push through. Or run away.

Dread kicks your fight or flight instinct in.

We actually seek out dread sometimes, don’t we? I went to the water park with my family last weekend and for the first time since I was in high school I went on one of those super steep, straight-down slides. At least part of the fun is fighting through that feeling of dread when you’re at the tippy top, looking down, knowing you’re going to push yourself over the edge. That adrenaline rush is why you’re there, right?

When the thing we dread is something we don’t want, something we are fighting against, that adrenaline burst can lead to bad things.

Today, spend sometime thinking about something one of your characters dreads doing.

My Turn

My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. I decided to use my character, Guy Gisborne, for this exercise. Guy is my protagonist’s rival.

The thing that Guy dreads is the moment when he has to accept that he will never have Mattie (the Marion character.) She will never belong to him, because she is in love with Rob. Rob and Mattie have the kind of fated love that Guy wants, but knows intuitively he’ll never have.

Through out the story, Guy fights the truth that whatever he thought he might have with Mattie dissolved when Rob came home. That feeling–the dissociative one–drives Guy to take bolder and riskier and more intense steps to try to fight the inevitable. He tries to tie Mattie to him by sheer force of will.

As it becomes more and more obvious that he’s lost (and that, really, there was never, ever a contest), Guy gets more violent and more irrational. He knows that he’s headed toward a moment when every shred of hope will be lost and he will lose something that he can’t bear to lose.

The situation narrows to a point where either he has to do what he dreads–let go of Mattie–or do something drastic to avoid that eventuality.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Ninja Writers Academy: Tense + POV

Ninja Writer Academy is a weekly series. Every Saturday morning, I post a lesson here. You can do the work, then come share it on our Facebook group. I’ll be on Facebook on Sunday for Office Hours so we can discuss the lesson, or anything else writing related. If you’d like to join the Academy and get an email on Saturday with a link to the lesson, plus notification when Office Hours start, Click Here.

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The Who + How Assignment

Ninja Writers Academy-The Who + How Assignment (2)

I thought this week we’d talk about a more technical aspect of writing. Tense and Point of View.

Tense refers to when in time your story is taking place. Point of View refers to who is telling your story.

Tense

The two main forms tense takes in fiction are past and present. There are multiple ways to write both past and present, and then there are future tenses as well, but we’re just going to talk about regular old past and present today.

Past is written from some point in the future, looking back. A good example is Harper Lee’s book To Kill a MockingbirdThe story is told from the point of view of Scout as an adult, looking back on an incident from her childhood.

“Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.” —To Kill a Mockingbird

Present is written in the here and now. Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games books are a great example of present tense done well. The story is told from the point of view of Katniss Everdeen as the story is unfolding.

“This is the first kiss that we’re both fully aware of. Neither of us hobbled by sickness or pain or simply unconscious. Our lips neither burning with fever or icy cold. This is the first kiss where I actually feel stirring inside my chest. Warm and curious. This is the first kiss that makes me want another.” —Hunger Games

There are pros and cons for both. Past tense is easier to write, in my opinion. It can be hard to stick in present tense and not slip out of it. Present tense has more urgency. It’s very popular with young adult books for that reason. But, the trade off for that sense of urgency is that there is very little room for reflection. There isn’t any time for thinking about things or analyzing them as they are happening. When you write in past tense, your narrator has the benefit of some hindsight, which gives your reader the same benefit.

Point of View

Point of View is lens the reader gets the story through. The story can be told in the first, second, third, or omniscient point of view.

First person point of view is told using the pronoun ‘I.’ The narrator is telling their story directly. If you think of point of view as a telescope, first person is a very close view of the story. Both To Kill a Mockingbird and The Hunger Games books are written in the first person point of view.

Second person point of view is told using the pronoun ‘you,’ as if the reader were the point of view character. This is very rare, but it happens. Bright Lights, Big City is an example.

Third person point of view is told using the pronouns ‘he, she, they.’ It tells the story from a wider, one-step-removed point of view than first person. This is sometimes called third person limited, to distinguish it from third person omniscient, because the point of view is limited to which ever character is narrating at the moment. The narrator or narrators of a story with a third person limited point of view only knows what THEY know. The Game of Thrones is a good example of limited third person with lots of POV characters.

Omniscient point of view is the widest lens of all. It tells the story from far away, looking down at all of the characters at once. You could think of it as God’s point of view. Omniscient point of view is not limited to a point of view character, since the narrator is all knowing. The narrator in this type of story knows everything that everyone in the story knows. This is a rather old fashioned way of telling a story and it’s rare these days. The Book Thief is a good modern example of an omniscient narrator (it’s narrated by death.)

Your story will have at least one point of view character. In some cases, the POV character isn’t revealed to the reader, as with the Harry Potter books. In many books there is an alternating POV, so that in one scene or chapter you’re in the head of your protagonist, for example, and the next in the head of the antagonist. Many stories are told through the point of view of the main character, but any character can tell the story. In The Great Gatsbyfor example, the point of view character is the protagonist’s neighbor.

Head hopping happens when the point of view mantel moves around from one character to another within the same scene. Do your best not to let that happen, especially if you’re a new writer. Stephen King and Christine Feehan can do what they want–and so can we when we get to that level. We aren’t there yet. A good rule of thumb is to stick with one POV per chapter, or at the very least per scene.

My Turn

My work in progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. The story is told in the past tense from the limited third person point of view of both my Robin character and my Marion character (Rob and Mattie, respectively.)

Here’s an example of Rob’s POV:

The house smelled of Jack—cigars and the expensive cologne that was his one vanity. His books lined the walls. There were clean dishes in the drainer.

Mattie had been right. Jack’s ghost was here. Rob wanted his father, suddenly, so hard that it hurt like someone had reached into his chest and squeezed his heart. His father would know what to do about Guy. He’d know what Rob could do or say to make Mattie okay.

His father could tell him why he’d given the Nott away and why Guy Gisborne was living in Locksley.

“You should have waited for me.” Rob turned and saw Mattie standing in the doorway with her hair damp, wearing sweat pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt despite the heat outside. “I would have come with you.”

“I know you would have.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

He shook his head. He’d thought he wanted to be alone, but he needed her here with him. “Please don’t go.”

She closed the door. “Are we looking for something specific?”

“I don’t know. Probably not.” Rob started toward his bedroom. “I’ll pack some things to bring over to your place.”

And Mattie’s:

Guy had a look on his face that Mattie didn’t particularly like when she turned back to him. Gloating. Smug. When he was standing in front of her, she said, “This is insane. You know that, right?”

Guy came closer to her. He hesitated when she backed away, but didn’t stop until he was close enough to run his palm over her cheek. She froze, her stomach and heart both turning over.

“Please, don’t touch me,” she said, quietly.

“I love you, Matilda. You have feelings for me, too. I know you do.”

“I don’t,” she said. When his face fell, she added, “Not the way you want me to.”

“But, that night—“

“That night,” Mattie said, wishing she could suck that night back in, “was a mistake. It never should have happened.”

He inhaled, tilted his head closer to her. “Come to Locksley with me.”

“You aren’t listening to me.”

“We’re good together.” Guy took her hand, holding it tighter when she tried to pull it back. “I know you can see that.”

“We aren’t together.” She didn’t want to hurt Guy. He seemed fragile to her, like her rejection might break him. She stopped trying to take her hand back. “We’re friends. That’s all.”

He shook his head, lowering his gaze to their hands. “You’re really going to friend zone me?”

“Guy.”

“It’s Rob, isn’t it? He came back, and now we’re just friends?” Guy threw her hand away and she stepped back from him.

“We’ve only ever been just friends.”

“Does he know that we’ve been together?”

A deep, sharp pain shot between Mattie’s eyes. “We aren’t together, Guy.”

Guy took her shoulders in his hands and dragged her closer to him. “We could be. Marry me.”

“Marry you?” A burst of laughter escaped just as she saw he was dead serious. “Guy, I can’t marry you. I’m not even old enough to get married.”

“Your dad will sign the consent.”

He sounded so sure. Mattie really was going to be sick. “You’ve talked to my dad about this?”

Guy went down on one knee.

“Oh, Jesus.” Mattie looked at the door to the conference room and considered making enough noise to bring Philip or one of the attorneys to come help her. “Guy, don’t do this.”

Your Turn

Here’s your homework this weekend, Ninja!

Are you in this week? Leave a comment here and let me know. Ninja Writers are ALL about the big A word: Accountability. Post here that you’re going to be part of the Academy this week, then do it, Ninja.

Nail down your POV and tense. If you just aren’t sure, think about rewriting a scene in another tense or point of view.

Come by Facebook and something that reflects your story’s POV and tense. I’ll be there tomorrow at noon PST for office hours.

Please share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and spread the word about the Ninja Academy.

If you haven’t joined the Academy yet, you can click here to do that. It’s totally free–when you sign up, I’ll send you a link every week to the Academy post and an invitation to my Sunday office hours.

If you want some extra accountability for your Academy work, check out the Ninja Writers Kick-in-the-Butt Crew. It’ll help you get it done.

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Ninja Writers Book Club #6

He that loves reading has everything within his reach.Read more at- http-%2F%2Fwww.brainyquote.com%2Fsearch_results.html-q=reading

Every Tuesday is Book Club day at the Ninja Writers Facebook group.  Ninjas post about the books that they’re reading or a book that has inspired them or that they loved. It’s so much fun, and I always end up with a list of books that I can’t wait to read. I thought it might be fun to actually link to those books here on the blog every week. Click any of the covers to be taken to its Amazon page.

Here are the books from this week’s Ninja Writers Book Club Tuesday. If you’re looking for something to read this week, here’s a great place to start!

(These are affiliate links. If you buy using one of them, a few pennies will go toward supporting Ninja Writers. Thank you so much!)

This week I added Better Off by Eric Brende, The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker, and the first book in Sherilynn Kenyon’s League series to my TBR pile. What about you? Share it in the comments!

Non-fiction

Thriller + Mystery

Children’s + YA

Romance

Speculative

Christian

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