The Problem with Multiple Viewpoints

Let’s face it, lots of great novels and series have multiple viewpoints. Even J. K. Rowling didn’t tell Harry Potter strictly from Harry’s point of view, but had a chapter or two at the beginning of almost every book from a different viewpoint to fill in the information gaps from a boy who spends his summers shut off from the wizarding world, sort of like the opening scenes in most crimes shows when they show you the murder or the discovery of the body or something to give you more context than the detectives.

The only great work of our time that I can think of that is strictly told in a single point of view is The Hunger Games, and truly it’s the only series or book that was truly wonderful that does that.

So it’s really little surprise that many authors give in to that admittedly powerful temptation to tell the story from multiple viewpoints. You don’t want to just say how Character X feels, you want to give how Character Y feels about it, and how Character Z reacts to the feelings of X and Y. And since all the greats are doing it, why not?

The fact is that just like everything else in the writing world, there can be complications with multiple viewpoints.

Some of the problems I’ve had in the past as a writer are remembering who I’m writing as, making sure my readers remember who I’m writing as, and deciding which viewpoint to write from!

The recent problem I’ve been having is with the outline of The Pen is Mightier. I’ve got several viewpoints in my list of viewpoints (which are all necessary for at least a small portion of my book), which can really only be used once or twice convincingly, as they’re not involved in the main part of the plot.

I’ve come to the decision that the story could not be done properly without these viewpoints, but it’s requiring me to carefully consider and second-guess every point-of-view decision I make for The Pen is Mightier. And for those of you who know me (cough, Natalie, cough), you know that I hate having to second-guess myself, which is what makes the editing process so painful. Still, as I’ve learned with my schoolwork as well, slowing things down, considering everything you do, can be more helpful in the long run than going off instinct and having to change everything later.




Brain Food Snacks and Beverage

Here’s a sampling of what’s kept my mind going during midterm season:

1. Tea (white with honey lately, although that’s because I recently ran out of black so I’m forced to use my precious and tiny stores of white).

2. Cranberry Juice (all right, so it’s Cranraspberry, but anything with cranberry that doesn’t have pomegranate is AWESOME).

3. Water (you can never have too much to drink, and dehydration is an easy thing to get when you’re busy and not thinking about it).

4. Plums (we’ve got a bunch of them from the trees in our yard and they’re sort of crowding the fridge, so they’re a good snack).

5. Wraps (tortilla, black forest ham slices, iceberg lettuce, shredded cheese, a bit of ranch dressing).

6. Oreos (just the classic double stuffed…. chocolate’s good for getting your brain going, esp. w/ math).

7. Frosting and graham crackers (don’t deny the power of a classic).

8. Toast (butter and some sort of white bread… lately buttermilk white).

9. Sandwich (usually butter and white bread -toasted-, Miracle Whip, cheese, black forest ham, lettuce, sometimes onion if I have any, garlic powder).

10. Ice cream (’nuff said).



A Discussion of Paper v. Electronic

No, this isn’t a diatribe about money (although I prefer cash myself, it’s so much easier to keep track of how much I have when it’s right there in my hands). This is a weighing of whether it is better for an author do do their work with pen and paper or by strictly electronic means, which is becoming an increasingly popular option in today’s digital world with all the fun gizmos and gadgets for free alone out there intended to aid writers.

Firstly, I’ve tried several of those free aids. They’ve not helped me with anything that I can’t do (more easily) with pen, paper, notebooks, and a good three-ring binder. Organizing characters, keeping track of scenes written on inspiration, separating chapters by viewpoint. I can do all of that with a pen and paper. For some people this might be a nice tool, but I really don’t see the point in it.

Personally, all my planning stages are done by hand. Even when I’m co-writing something and make a digital copy of an outline, I do it by hand first. Some people might prefer digital, but I like the idea that I can draw things out in any shape, length, or style that I want. If I want to write everything in a spiral, I can write everything in a spiral. I never do this, but the option is still there, and I like options.

That’s not to say that digital life doesn’t have it’s uses. I’m not typing up manuscripts hundreds of pages long on a manuscript! I still use word processors like everybody else. But when a scene comes to me at random for a later point in a story, I put it in a notebook pertaining to that story, or on loose leaf paper that I stick into the binder for that story so I can keep things ordered. Typing them up and arranging it later leaves too much room for error.

I have no doubt in my mind that someone somewhere is getting plenty of use out of digital writing tools. I know for a fact that E. M. McBride is a fan of Write or Die. I can’t do it. My attention span is too short. Before you go and actually purchase some fancy writing software, though, I encourage you to consider investing in some great physical assets like proper pens and paper. Sometimes just finding the right brand of pen can make all of the difference.



Update on My Work

First things first: To the Death‘s sequel, To the End of the Earth, is in it’s third chapter still. Still? Yes, well, I do have classes and other projects, and the third chapter introduces a new POV character, so I’m being very careful with it. Anyway, it’s still very much in progress, and I worked on it a bit yesterday, actually. Third chapter should be done soon.

As far as my novella, which I have tentatively titled Not All that Glimmers Is Gold, I’m about to start my fourth chapter. I’m having fun sprinkling useful information in it that will come up later. It’s not a mystery, but it’s almost like little nuggets of foreshadowing. I’m not really a mystery writer, although I often work with crimes. I prefer working with the perpetrator, not the people solving the crime. Usually my perp gets away with it, too. So I can’t really be a mystery writer. I just don’t have the heart for it.

The exception – because there has to be an exception, of course – is the novel project I think I’m going to make my next Camp NaNoWriMo project, The Pen Is Mightier. Both criminals… the major criminals, that is, are caught. It’s not told from their viewpoints, but mostly from the viewpoint of the victim. Other criminal activities go unpunished, but the big stuff are punished. But it’s not a mystery. There’s no subtlety about what’s happening, trust me. The reader knows. The narrators know. The police know. No mystery at all. It’s more about the psychological impacts of physical and emotional pain, and dealing with that. Or not dealing with it. You’ll have to wait and see! I’ve got a good start on the outline, so when I sit down to write it in June, it should go quickly.

My Victorian novel (which I have yet to name or fully plan) is also getting partially written as I sit in my geology class and try desperately not to fall asleep. I have this thing, I think it’s how my eyes process things, and power point makes me sleepy. I’ve almost fallen asleep almost every week, and caffeine does nothing. I just can’t look at the screen.

I have been spending my time otherwise working on short pieces, including the 100-word story I posted on here. I’ve also sent a piece off to Natalie Cannon that I’ll be hoping to get published in the Scripps College Journal. These short pieces will hopefully be posted in literary magazines and journals.

Ah, that reminds me, still collecting my list of literary journals and magazines I’ll be submitting work to, and their information for you guys. When I’ve finished I’ll put the list on here, no worries (with links!)



What I’ve Got At my Workspace

Like many people, I’ve got a little spot where I do all my work: schoolwork, writing, etc. What ‘decorates’ this space?

1. 20 pack of G2 gel pens in assorted colors (but majority black). I don’t write with any other brand of pen unless I’m out and waiting to buy more and then I get angry at myself for not planning ahead.

2. Assorted notebooks of varying sizes, brands, colors, etc. This includes legal pads and loose leaf paper, which I also use.

3. A few three-ring binders to hold stuff. These are important with the loose-leaf, mostly. I need bigger binders, though. My shopping list has a 5′ binder on it that I’ve not gotten around to buying yet.

4. School books. Hey, if you’re doing school work…

5. Manila folders. I use these for school, one for each course, to keep my papers separate by class so I don’t lose things, which I have a tendency to do.

6. A couple of the Harry Potter books. This is mostly because I’ve been too lazy to put them in my room, and what if I need them? Which I won’t, but STILL!

7. A stack of folded clothes my mom put in my work space because she somehow thinks that means I’ll be more likely to put them in my room. It doesn’t.

8. Computer. Obviously.

9. Headphones so I don’t bother my family with all my Team Starkid and my Alter Bridge and whatnot.

10. Ponytail holders because my hair bugs me when it’s down. Then I fidget with it and it gets greasy and then I feel like I need to shower and I lose time I could be working on extra showers.

11. My fuzzy fleece blanket. I’ve got two, and my blue one is at my work space because it’s the one I had with me at school so it’s a bit messed up. Ironically, the one on my bed has ink stains on it and the blue one doesn’t…. (Yes, I have a mini-work space in my bed with notebooks and pens and books and everything).




How I Make Time to Write

I have college. I have a social life (sort of). I have family duties. And I still write, promote myself, plan….

How do I have time for it all?

Sometimes I ask myself that same question.

First of all, I never schedule anything in my life that doesn’t HAVE to be scheduled. Classes, for example, are at the same times every week, whether I want them to be or not. Those go on the schedule. Doctor Who is at the same time every Saturday. That’s scheduled. Birmingham City matches are not subject to my whims, so those are scheduled. Skyping with friends has to be done at a mutually beneficial time, so that’s scheduled. That’s basically it.

I have two email accounts, my ‘school’ account and my ‘work’ account, and both are Gmail hosted. The great thing about them being on Gmail is the use of Google Calendar.

On my ‘school’ Google Calendar, I put all the things I need to schedule, from classes to Doctor Who to assignment due dates to appointments. I also put up the fanfiction I’m working on, every three days – except on holidays where I put something down each day. This keeps me prompted so that I don’t ever forget about my fanfiction. I also write 100 words on a given story each time I get a review, follow, or favorite on a story. If the story’s finished, I do 100 words on whatever’s on my docket, which is currently one of my Hunger Games stories. I also switch up my docket going alphabetically down my list of stories on a fairly regular basis, so I don’t forget anything.

On my ‘work’ Google Calendar, every day has something work related a the top, whether it’s to work on a video for my YouTube page, raising money for copyright, or working on the latest chapter of either my working novel or novella. For the whole month of November, for example (NaNoWriMo), each day is a reminder to work on a section of a chapter of my novel.

Any time I check either calendar for any reason (which I do frequently throughout the day for both), I take that opportunity to work on the reminder I’ve set for the day. There’s no scheduled time, and if my other work is doing well I write more. If it’s going poorly, I write less.

I think it’s a good system. It’s yet to fail me. And for those of you who don’t know me, I have a very short attention span most of the time. Switching gears every five minutes is sort of necessity for me.

And that is how I get it done.