Friday, January 29, 2010

Goals and Rewards

I'm gearing up for a week of intensive writing. My goal is to complete 2,000 words each day or a total of 40 pages. This is really a lot for me. In the past, I've set a goal of 750 words a day. Not sure if I will be able to reach the goal, but if I don't have something to strive for, then what good is setting a goal?

Working alone, the only way I receive a sense of accomplishment is to work toward a goal and then reward myself for getting there.  Now, I need to come up with a reward.  Hmmm. Nothing chocolate or fattening. Nothing that requires going outside...since it's cold enough to freeze my brain right now. I've been wanting to invest in an external hard drive. I think that's what I'll dangle as my reward.  If I complete the 40 pages, then I will go out next weekend and purchase the hard drive.  Now, that's worth working toward.

Goals, you just gotta love 'em!!

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dear Author: "Can you help me understand POV changes?"

Some of my newer writing friends are baffled when they receive feedback that they've changed POVs. What does that mean?

POV (point of view) is probably the easiest and hardest thing to explain. POV comes from what the character is seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling, hearing, or thinking. In fiction, editors want to know what is happening in a scene from ONE character's point of view. The temptation for the writer is to show the scene from every point of view because we, the writer, know what's going on in each character's mind.

Let's look at an example from my romantic suspense novel, FOXFIRE. Tyler is a vet and Grace is his office assistant. She accompanied him to an elderly man's home where Tyler had to euthanize the man's dog. Grace has a dog named Tiffany. She is filled with grief after the incident. After Tyler brings her home, they sit together in her living room. Below is the wrong way to write the scene:

Grace sat in the rocker.

Tiffany came out of the kitchen, her jowls dripping water. She walked to Tyler and leaned against him. He ruffled her fur, thinking again about the poor dog he'd had to euthanize. He wished he could have saved the old man's pet. (This indicates that the scene will be in Tyler's POV because we know what he's feeling know through his thoughts.)

Grace felt awkward. What could they talk about to avoid the issue forefront in both their minds? (Now we see what Grace is feeling. Hmmm. So, Tyler can't be privy to her thoughts unless he's a mind reader. We've clearly switched POV to Grace at this point. This is a no-no. It is called head-hopping.)

He met her gaze. "The first time I had to euthanize an animal, my dad was with me. Later we sat and talked about it. He helped me understand what I'd done was the humane thing." Tyler shook his head. He wanted to walk over and hug her. He wanted nothing more than to comfort her. (Again we've switched POV back to Tyler! Grace wouldn't know that Tyler wants to hug her. That's what he's thinking about out.)

Grace swallowed. The lump kept rising in her throat. She wouldn't resort to tears in front of Tyler. She bit the inside of her mouth, a trick that always worked. She watched Tyler's fingers absently stroking Tiffany's ears. (Again another POV switch. Now we are in Grace's head. We see what she sees, feel what she's feeling.)

"I suppose you get hardened to it," she said.



Okay, now that we've seen the wrong way to write the scene, how can we write it to show both POV's without doing that head-hopping thing? How to do it? Remove any instances where we are in Tyler's head and reveal his emotions through dialogue. Here is the scene only in Grace's POV:

Grace sat in the rocker.

Tiffany came out of the kitchen, her jowls dripping water. She walked to Tyler and leaned against him. He ruffled her fur and she dropped to the rug at his feet.

Grace felt awkward. What could they talk about to avoid the issue forefront in both their minds?

He met her gaze. "The first time I had to euthanize an animal, my dad was with me. Later we sat and talked about it. He helped me understand what I'd done was the humane thing." Tyler shook his head. "I still have a hard time dealing with it. No matter how prepared you are, it always hurts to see life fade away."

Grace swallowed. The lump kept rising in her throat. She wouldn't resort to tears in front of Tyler. She bit the inside of her mouth, a trick that always worked. She watched Tyler's fingers absently stroking Tiffany's ears.

"I suppose you get hardened to it," she said.


This scene shows that Tyler must have had as hard a time with putting the dog to sleep as Grace did. But, it is strictly in Grace's POV.

I hope this helps a little with understanding how to use POV.  Another trick is to write part of the scene in one POV and use a break *** and begin writing in the other character's POV. This is particularly helpful in love scenes.

Please feel free to ask any questions by commenting on the blog, or you can contact me directly through my website. I love to hear from my followers.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 22, 2010

What's Not to Love About Character Conflict?

I am currently reading a great book by Margaret Brownley, A LADY LIKE SARAH, publisher Thomas Nelson.

The characters grabbed my heart from the very first chapter. The tag line says it all, "She's an outlaw, he's a preacher. Both are in need of a miracle."

I'm enjoying the conflict with Justin, a preacher who left Boston in disgrace. He's traveling toward a new ministry in Rocky Creek, Texas, when he stumbles upon a U.S. Marshall and his prisoner. The two were left to die after being hijacked near a creek. When Justin removes the hat from the young prisoner's head, he sees a wild tumble of red hair. The prisoner isn't a young lad, but a young woman!

Justin, a God fearing preacher, is quickly put in conflict. He has made a promise to the marshall that he will deliver the prisoner to justice. However, justice in this case, means hanging. Who ever heard of hanging a woman? What could she have done to deserve that? He hopes he can find a way to save her when they arrive in Rocky Creek.

Sarah, however, has no plans on going back to Rocky Creek and feeling the course rope close around her throat! Having been taught by her brothers to seek justice for her father's death by robbing Wells Fargo at every opportunity, she doesn't feel she's done anything wrong. They aren't taking anything that isn't theirs. If Wells Fargo bank hadn't taken their farm away, her parents would be alive and she wouldn't have a noose in her future. Besides the crooked judge and sheriff in Rocky Creek lied about her. She never actually took part in the robbing and she never killed anybody.

She wants to run away and leave the preacher to deal with his own fate. But, how can she? The man doesn't even know how to start a fire, for crying out loud. She figures she can stand his trying to make a lady out of her long enough to get him to the Texas border before she takes off. But, when they run across a burned out wagon train and find the only survivor is a small baby, she realizes it will definitely take a miracle to keep the baby alive.

When God delivers a miracle to save baby Elizabeth, Sarah begins to think the preacher may be right after all. Dare she risk going back to Rocky Creek with him? Can he truly save her from the noose? How can she abandon the baby to a man who can't protect his own self, let alone Elizabeth?

Conflict, conflict, conflict.  Now what's not to love about that?

I highly suggest reading A Lady Like Sarah. I haven't finished it yet, but I give it five stars out of five.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunrises Make Me Smile

Today, I began my day sitting at the computer and through my window I viewed an awesome sunrise. The sky was an incredible pink color shining through the trees while the sky above remained a darker blue color. I watched as the sky continued to color as if a paint brush created the view. As the undescribable pink color began to fade, my smile continued.

There's something inspiring in watching a sunrise or a sunset. You don't have to be on a beach or in an exotic location. Sometimes we forget to enjoy the beauty within our own home areas.

Me?  I plan to spend more mornings enjoying the beauty outside my office window.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dear Author: "How do I show and not tell?"

Show versus Tell. It's long been a writer's dilemma on when to tell and when to show, and how to show the important things.Every writer is different and there is no magic wand to wave to impart the information.

For me, it's about visualizing the scene I'm writing. I see the actions as if I'm watching a movie. As I type the words, I'm watching the characters on stage. While they are moving and reacting to each other, they talk, they flirt, they argue. I'm writing down each action but only as it's being seen through my POV character's eyes. New writers sometimes have a problem with POV. I will discuss this in my next Monday's blog.  : )

Here is a scene I wrote from FOXFIRE. As you see, it's an action oriented scene. It begins in Grace's POV and then switches to Tyler's. (more on this next Monday). Grace's dog, Tiffany, is in the vet clinic where Grace works. The vet, Tyler, lives upstairs. He has allowed her to sleep on his sofa overnight so she can be close to her dog. She awakens, makes a pot of coffee, and then overhears him talking.

Tyler's voice drifted through his closed bedroom door. She set the picture back inplace and cautiously approached.

"No, don't send anyone yet. I'll call if I need help. If Max is here, I'll get him."

Max? She placed her ear against the door. Who was Tyler talking to, and what did he know about Max?

"I'm not sure Max is behind this yet."

Grace's heart began to thud loudly.

"Although Max prefers guns, I think it was him. Whoever did it was lashing out at Grace. She and that dog are inseparable."

Grace turned the knob on the bedroom door and flung it open. She had a second to register the slam against the wall before Tyler dropped the phone and spun, both hands closed around a gun pointed right between her eyes.

"Damn," he said, lowering th eweapon. He picked up the phone with one hand. "I'll call you back." He dropped it back on the mattress and shoved the gun in his waistband.

Grace's shock began to ebb. "Who the hell are you?"

Tyler ruffled a hand through his hair. "I guess you overheard."

"I didn't overhear. I eavesdropped. I want answers, Tyler."

His gaze burned into hers. "Let me fix some coffee first."

She blocked the doorway. "Who are you? A cop?"

His closed expression showed no sign of what he might be thinking. "No," he replied. He gently moved her aside and strode toward the kitchen.

Grace tagged closely behind. "Are you really a vet?"

"Thanks." He nodded toward the full pot of coffee and reached for the cabinet door. Grace's hand stopped him from opening it.

"Answers first."

"Yes, I'm a vet."

"What else?"

He pulled out a chair and indicated she should do the same. Deep in her soul, she feared her world was about to come crashing in on her.

"I'll tell you everything you want to know after I have a cup of coffee."

He ran a hand through is hair again, leaving it mussed. Much to her dismay, it reminded her of soft beds and sex. "It's been a rough night."

How could he appear so calm and unconcerned after pointing a gun at her? The hard look in his eyes as he'd spun with the weapon in his hands told her he knew how to use it. She had to get away from him and from the past that knocked harshly on the locked door of her heart. "Yes, it has," she responded. The urge to run overpowered her desire to hear his explanations. "To hell with the coffee. And to hell with you!" She whirled and ran for the sliding doors.

Tyler reacted on instinct, grabbing her arm. She drove a fist into his nose, surprising him and loosening his fingers. She pulled free and darted outside.

He tested his nose for blood, found none, and hurried after her. A brief smile tugged at his lips. The woman might be small, but she packed a mean right hook.

He caught her at the edge of the woods, and grabbed her from behind, wrappinghis arms around her waist and lifting her fromthe ground.

She fought hard, slamming her head back, trying to connect with his face. Her feet kicked against his shins and her breath came in short grunts of frustration.

"Let. Me. Go." She clawed at him.

Her nails raked his arm. "Damn it, Grace. Give me a chance to explain."

"No." Her head slammed against his chest. She nailed a solid kick to his shin, staggering him.

He dropped to the ground, pinning her beneath him. Her weight was no match against him, and she wilted, closing her eyes and turning her face away.

"I'm not a cop. I'm a vet. And I work for...a private investigation firm."

She opened her eyes and spit in his face.

So much for thinking she'd given in to his superior position. He wiped a hand across his face. Her eyes glared through him like poison darts.

"You're investigating me?" she yelled.

He'd expected her anger, but not the hatred sparking deep in her eyes. Somehow that hurt more than her punch to his nose.

"Just let me explain." He drew in a deep breath. "If I let you go, will you promise not to run away?"

"Why should I?"

"Have you forgotten about Tiffany?"

Her gaze wavered. She shifted, trying to free herself. His body responded. Looking down into her flushed face and angry eyes brought a desire to mash his lips on hers and turn her anger into a passion that would drive them both over the edge. He shook his head, wishing he dared to let go of her long enough to regain his senses. He groaned inwardly as the pressure against his zippered jeans increased. "I am a vet, Grace." She pushed against him and he grunted.

"Let me up." She bucked upward.

"Can I trust you?" he asked.

"Can I trust you?" she countered.


As you can see, this is a scene just as you might observe on the big movie screen. It's done in deep POV of the character and Grace and Tyler are acting out their parts. They aren't telling anything.

If I had chosen to tell this scene, it would have been much shorter and very boring. I could have said something like:

Grace overheard Tyler talking to someone on the phone. He said the word Max. She slammed open the door and asked him what was going on.  Tyler pointed a gun at her head. She was angry and frightened.

That would be telling.  Hopefully this litte scene helps you to see how you can empower your characters and turn those telling words into action.

Happy writing!

Thanks for stopping by.