12.9: Q&A on Viewpoint

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard

You had questions about viewpoint. Here they are!

  • Do you have tips and tricks for making 3rd-person omniscient compelling?
  • How do you make 3rd-person limited compelling?
  • Is it normal to need several drafts to nail down a character’s voice?
  • What’s the best way to portray an unreliable 3rd-person limited narrator?
  • What are your most effective methods for immersing yourself in character attributes so that you can get the voice right?
  • How do you choose between 1st and 3rd person?
  • How do you select the viewpoint character for a scene?
  • How do you smoothly transition between viewpoints?
  • How do you prevent character voices from blending into each other and becoming indistinguishable?

(Our answers are in the podcast.)

 

Play

Swap dialog between characters. How do different characters say the same thing? How do they react when something they would say is said to them?

12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Tananrive Due, whose short-fiction expertise is exemplified in her collection, Ghost Summer, joined us on the Oasis of the Seas to talk about how to use short stories to explore aspects of the craft. We discuss the importance of allowing ourselves to fail, and how we can learn from those failures, and continue to push our own limits. We also talk about how we go about pushing those limits, and what we do in order to most effectively explore new techniques.

 

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Take something larger that you’ve written  and find a short story in it. Write that story.

Summer“, by Tananarive Due, which you can find in the Ghost Summer collection.

12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

The third-person POV lens can be used for simultaneously describing the world to the reader and describing the character. In this episode we’ll talk about where we deploy these tools, where the pitfalls are, and how to do it well.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, who heard the AC turn back on, and mastered by Alex Jackson, who was happy to not need to digitally filter the AC out of the mix.

Play

Homework assignment: read Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craftand dive into the exercises there.

Amberlough, by Lara Elena Donnelly

12.6: Variations on Third Person

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

This episode focuses on the third person POV, and some variations on them, like omniscient and limited, and some sub-variants like cinematic and head-hopping.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Write a passage, and then re-write it in limited, omniscient narrator, head-hopping, and cinematic POVs.

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho, narrated by Jenny Sterlin

12.5: Literary Fiction

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

This week we talk about the genre of Literary Fiction. Our first hurdle is the word “literary” whose use in this context can imply that all other genres are somehow not literature. In that vein, then, we’re talking about mainstream, or “non-genre” fiction which is crafted with close attention to the finer points of the prose. After framing our discussion, we dive into the nuts and bolts of writing in the Literary Fiction genre.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

You drive your spouse to the airport and watch them fly away on a trip. Then you go straight home, and find them there in the house, sitting at the computer…

Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie (print and ebook available here)

12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler

Piper J. Drake joins the cast for our week-four episodes, of which this is the first. This week we’ll be drilling down into hybrid viewpoints—blending 1st and 3rd person, framing stories, stories-within-stories, and unreliable narration—and how to best serve our work with these techniques.

Play

Put a framing story around something you’ve already written.

Absolute Trust, by Piper J. Drake