The Journal: Translation, and the POV Character’s Opinion

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Translation
* Topic: The POV Character’s Opinion
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“If the character had more of a colorful opinion, I might see the reason for the description-to … give insight into the character.” Jordan Dane, the Kill Zone blog

“Translating from one language to another is the most delicate of intellectual exercises; compared to translation, all other puzzles, from bridge to crosswords, seem trivial and vulgar. To take a piece of Greek and put it in English without spilling a drop; what a nice skill!” Cyril Connolly via The Passive Voice

Translation has always interested me. An excellent translator must be absolutely fluent in the destination language, though strictly speaking only a working knowledge of the source language is required. Why? Because the trick of translation is not to translate literally, but to translate the spirit of the original work.

Topic: The POV Character’s Opinion

Note: This topic first appeared in slightly different form in an early morning email to my patrons.

According to Realtors, the three things that matter most with real estate are location, location and location. With fiction, short or long, the three things that matter most are characters, characters and characters.

Short fiction leads the reader through One Event. But the story is about how the characters react to that one event.

Novellas and novels the reader through several interrelated events. But they’re about how the characters react to those events.

No matter the genre, all stories are character driven. They’re all about the reaction of the characters to what’s going on around them. Even in “hard” science fiction, in which the secondary emphasis is on the science, the primary emphasis is on how the characters react to that science.

All well and good. I’ve known that seemingly forever. I knew it even when I wrote my very first story at the ripe old age of six. As I recall, that story was about an ant bed located at the edge of a rock and how the ants and their neighbors under the rock (various beetles, roly-polies, and a centipede or two) were affected when a kid tripped over the rock, dislodging it and disrupting their world in much the way a major earthquake would disrupt the human world.

I might have even added a few insect opinions that illustrated their personality, but if I did, it was strictly an accident.

Flash forward about 56 years.

In 2014, I rediscovered Dean Wesley Smith. In our ensuing conversations at different times over the next couple of years, probably as passing comments (vs. directed lessons), he advised me to

1. use setting at the beginning of every major scene/chapter to ground the reader,
2. let the POV character (not the author) provide the description of the setting, and
3. be sure to include the POV character’s opinion of the setting.

The first two were easy-peasy. The third one, not so much.

After a lot of practice (about fifteen novels, a couple of novellas and a few dozen short stories), the value of the POV character’s opinion finally settled over me. I finally got it.

Not that I hadn’t been allowing the POV character his or her opinion all along. But I didn’t know I was allowing it. I didn’t realize the value of it. So in some places, I omitted it. Or far worse, I allowed my own opinions to leak through.

A description of the setting is important for grounding the reader because it enables the reader to see, hear, smell, taste and feel (physically and emotionally), the time, place and surroundings of the scene.

Allowing the POV character to provide that description ensures it won’t be just a laundry list of what’s in the setting. That is, the POV character will notice (see, hear, smell, etc.) only what’s important to the story. (If the author provides it, not so much.)

And allowing the POV character to provide his or her opinions of the setting will also provide insight into the POV character. Which, in turn, will negate the need for any info dumps to explain why the POV character possesses certain personality traits.

In other words, you won’t feel a need for info dumps, so you won’t write them in the first place. Because the POV character’s opinions of the setting, other characers, and even the situation itself will reveal those traits.

Honestly, I hope this topic is something you didn’t need. But if you did need it, I hope it’s helpful. (grin)

Rolled out a little before 3 this morning. I checked email and then the sites I routinely visit. I was headed to the WIP when I happened on this topic while reading the Kill Zone blog. I still expect today to be a good writing day.

This WIP is so incredibly twisted that it’s truly a roller-coaster ride. (grin) Almost every chapter and every major scene leaves me all but breathless. And in almost every major scene something occurs that requires me to refer to my reverse outline, then go back to an earlier scene and add or change a usually minuscule detail. Incredible. And great fun.

Fairly good day today, though I’m posting a little early.

By the way, my son and grandson arrive tomorrow for a little early Christmas, so I might not be here for a few days.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Key Ways to Lure Readers with an Opening” at

See “Mentor Program” at

See “The Decade Ahead” at A course offering. If you’re writing and publishing regularly and you’ve at least begun to think of all the ways you can license your work, you probably don’t need this.

See “Business Musings: Translations 2019” at

See the Passive Guy’s addendum on “Maradona successfully sues …” at

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 3538
Nonfiction words today…………… 970 (Journal)

Writing of Jonah Peach (tentative title)
Brought forward…… 4416 words

Day 10… 1490 words. Total words to date…… 25649
Day 11… 1544 words. Total words to date…… 27193
Day 12… 1554 words. Total words to date…… 28747
Day 13… 4102 words. Total words to date…… 32849
Day 14… 3538 words. Total words to date…… 36387

Total fiction words for the month……… 33822
Total fiction words for the year………… 431387
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12450
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 315710
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 747097

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)……………………………………
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31