Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do you have a point of view?

For some of us, there are no rules.

Take a guy like Stephen King. I just got finished reading his book, The Stand - the original, uncut version of 1,140+ pages - and one of the main things I got out of the book is that King doesn't follow the rules.

Well, at least not some of them.

King's novels sell a lot of copies. A LOT of copies. So he abides by Rule Number One - make your publisher happy.

And King's novels are a great read. So he abides by Rule Number Two - make your readers happy.

Rule Number Three is - follow Rules Number One and Two.

However, there are other writerly rules. One of the first I learned was POV. And POV killed my first novel.

Sol Stein defines POV as: "the character whose eyes are observing what happens, the perspective from which a scene or a story is written."

At my first writer's conference I was told there is no such character as "narrator". And, for the first time, I heard about POV. So the novel I had spent four years writing and had come to pitch was tossed in a drawer. It had no POV and was told almost entirely by an omniscient narrator. OOOPPPS! Time to try another profession.

But, wait. Hold your hyphens!

Have you read a King novel? Stephen King is POV-challenged. In fact, in The Stand, King is bouncing around from one person's head to the next from sentence to sentence. In double fact, there are even two scenes where he gives us the thoughts of a dog. I kid you not.

Now, in Waynes World of Writing, Stephen King is just lower than diety. Clearly, he can do no wrong.

How many writers do you know who can go back to their publisher and require them to restore the 150,000 words that were cut from the original published version of The Stand? Taking it from a 700-page book to an 1,100-page book.

But he don't know no POV!

Which brings us to the QUESTION OF THE DAY.

Do people speak in words? Or in numerals?

When I was a newspaper editor, I would skewer writers who would quote people in numerals.

"I told Jack I was going to hit 6 home runs today."

No, you numbskull ... people speak in words (six) not numerals (6).

Boy, did that get me in a lot of arguments. (I won, because I was the boss)

What do you think? The first 3 responses will each receive four calling birds and 5 golden rings.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Love for Rent

This is so bizarre ... writing in the ozone with no guarantee that anybody else is out there.

If you are, hopefully you haven't been holding your breath, waiting for the next post.

Just finished the first draft of my second novel. Perhaps that is wishful thinking. I thought it was finished two weeks ago. Turns out I didn't have enough words. The first one was too long by nearly 30,000 words. Now this one is too short.

Maybe I can combine the two of them and then just cut it in half in the middle. That would be interesting reading.

Oh, yes, there is a reason why I've surfaced once again - besides the fact that I finished a first draft today and can now think and act like a (fairly) normal person again.

Neither of the books I've written have a romance. They are both adult action/suspense/thrillers. They both have significant women characters.

But - not in the chic-lit sense, at least - neither one has a romantic sub-plot.

Now, I admit, I'm over 45 and there is snow on the roof. But when I'm writing a suspense novel, I'm thinking of driving the plot, stepping up the action. I'm not thinking of getting a squeeze with Mata Hari. My wife would never go for that, anyway.

My point (question) is, how do you do that?

I'm a plot-driven writer, not a character-driven writer. I don't spend weeks creating a persona for each character, delving into the inner sanctums of each person's navel. In fact, I'm generally surprised when characters begin to display personality quirks because I certainly didn't plan them.

So, if there's any of you out there (if there is anyone out there) who enjoys developing romantic sub-plots in suspense or thriller novels, give me some clues. I know how you crime drama folks do it - every gumshoe has a dame. But, how about the rest of us?

There may be snow on the roof, but how can we get some fire in the furnace?