In today’s Journal
* A lighter day
* Topic: Whose Point of View Is It?
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Had a lighter day yesterday. I wanted to break 30,000 words but didn’t quite get there. I found a glitch I had to work out.
This series has a cast of dozens of main characters, so I get confused with some of the names and assignments every now and then. (grin) When that happens, it’s better to slow down and work out glitches when I find them than to wait and hope for the best. But the story’s still running, so it’s all good.
Topic: Whose Point of View Is It?
You are the center of your own universe. You can only see, hear, smell, taste, touch and feel (emotionally) your surroundings—the setting in which you are currently acting out your scene—from that perspective: from the center out. Literally everything in the immediate world of which you are aware is either situated or happening directly around you or in your mind.
Right now, please, take a moment to look around at that immediate world. Taste the air with your nose and your tongue. Note how you feel. Listen for any ambient sounds. Not only of the fan in the background or the sound of your computer running, but the more hidden sounds, the ones your mind typically filters out as non-threatening or non-alarming.
Now imagine for a moment you’re coming through the door or window into this setting. Which of those sounds and smells and sights would you notice in the daytime? Which would you notice after dark and before you flick-on the light switch? Which would you notice immediately afterward?
All right, that was all you. Everything you noticed was from your point of view.
Now be a character. Pick any one of your characters and be that character. Don’t have the character walk into the room or crawl in through the window. Be the character as he or she walks into the room or crawls in through the window. Now record what the character sees, hears, smells, tastes and feels—physically and emotionally—as he or she enters.
Note that you can’t do this realistically as a writer. You can only do this realistically as the character. Just as you can only sense the immediate world from the center out, the character can only sense the immediate world from the center out. You are not allowed to impose your sensory input on your character anymore than you are allowed (or able) to impose your sensory input on anyone els.
Okay, now pick a situation. The character is either walking, barging, rushing or breaking through the door. Or she’s creeping, crawling, or crashing through the window. For what purpose is the character entering the room? And under what circumstances?
Maybe she’s walking in to sit down and write or to browse the internet. Maybe she’s breaking in to stop a suicide. Maybe she’s coming in through the window because she’s a cat burglar. Maybe she’s coming in through the window because the house is on fire and that one window is the only logical, safe way into the house to rescue her pet. Maybe the window explodes, glass shards flying everywhere amid billowing plumes of smoke as she reaches to open it. In any situation, maybe it’s too late. Maybe it’s not.
Intent is tied to sensory perception. Or maybe sensory perception is tied to intent. What sights, sounds, smells etc. does the person going in to write or browse the internet notice? What sights, sounds, smells etc. does the person going in to stop a potential suicide notice? Or to arrest a suspect? Or to borrow a book? Or to burgle the house? Or to rescue a pet?
Sensory perception also is tied to emotional state. And the character’s history. And the character’s baggage. Are history and baggage the same thing? Can be.
What is the character’s background? In every case who we are is informed by who we’ve been and what we’ve done, our experiences and our baggage. What we’ve done to others and what has been done to us.
Who we are is informed by whether we take action because we believe it’s the right thing to do or strictly for appearances. But even given the same situation (i.e., burning house, browsing the internet, saving someone, burgling someone, etc.), each different person (and each different character) will notice different signts, smells, sounds etc. depending on who he is and who he’s been and his or her current emotional state.
One person will break through a door to prevent a suicide. Another will break through a door to witness it. Another will break through a door to make what ensues appear to be a suicide.
A civilian homeowner will have a different sensory and emotional response than will a firefighter or a cop, and each of those will have a different sensory and emotional response than will their fellows who are on exactly the same scene.
One character passing a burning house will do whatever she can to gain access and save the occupants. Another will pull her head back through the window, close the curtains and go to bed. A third, believing others might be around to notice her faux bravery, will make a half-hearted attempt at entry only to collapse on the front porch, thereby making it all about her.
I’m not suggesting you draw up character sketches or decide in advance who your characters are (and what type of people they are) and plan everything, or even anything.
But if you think about all of this (and much, much more) with your conscious mind here, in this safe, virtual classroom environment, it will inform your subconscious.
And when you sit down to actually write a story, your subconscious will fill in the necessary sensory details for the given POV character in a given situation. And by necessary I mean necessary to that character. According to that character’s history and/or baggage. And the character’s state of mind and intent. At the time.
In other words, now that you’re forearmed with whatever you took away from this brief lesson, when you start a story, stop thinking, trust yourself and your POV character, and simply record what happens.
Happy writing. (grin)
Talk with you again soon.
See “Writing with Authority” at https://mystorydoctor.com/writing-with-authority/.
See “Smith’s Monthly #48” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/smiths-monthly-48/. Anyone else ever think about doing this?
The Journal…………………………………… 1080 words
Writing of Terra 2 (novel)
Day 1…… 3535 words. Total words to date…… 3535
Day 2…… 4660 words. Total words to date…… 8195
Day 3…… 3739 words. Total words to date…… 11934
Day 4…… 3638 words. Total words to date…… 15572
Day 5…… 2882 words. Total words to date…… 18454
Day 6…… 4777 words. Total words to date…… 23231
Day 7…… 3531 words. Total words to date…… 26762
Day 8…… 2785 words. Total words to date…… 29547
Total fiction words for April……… 29547
Total fiction words for the year………… 316624
Total nonfiction words for April… 4930
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 72330
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 388954
Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 6
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 60
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.