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Posts tagged ‘hero’

First Monday Mentoring, ask your burning question here

Half-way through the year already, where did the time go? The first Monday of every month (or the first Sunday if you’re in the northern hemisphere) is when I invite you to post your writing-related questions and I’ll  answer them here. Lots of talented writers read and comment on this blog and you’re also welcome to contribute your thoughts on an answer, or share a writing experience that might help others.

 Questions can be posted ahead of time if you like and I will answer during Monday July 2.  I monitor the blog and post answers throughout the day. To kick things off, here’s a question I was asked at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writing Centre during the last week:

Which is better, staying in one characters point of view or having a variety? I was told not to “head hop”

The viewpoint character is the person through which the reader “enters” the story. Like putting on a garment, we “put on” the character’s view of the story (POV) and see everything as it happens through that person’s eyes. If there’s more than one viewpoint character, we get to see the story as it’s experienced by two or more people.

In romance novels we used to see the story only through the heroine’s eyes. She would guess or imagine why the hero did things, or what he was thinking. These days, readers want to see both sides of the romance. so it’s common to switch between the heroine’s POV and the hero’s. To avoid confusing your reader, it’s a good idea to switch viewpoints only when we have something new to learn from the other character. She might think he’s not attracted to her, for example. In his POV, we find out that there’s danger and he’s pretending not to care to get her out of the way.

There are no rules, only what works in your story.

It all depends on your point of view!

If a critique partner or editor says you’re “head hopping”, this means you’re not staying in one character’s viewpoint for very long before switching to another, and this can get confusing. Some writers – Nora Roberts is a good example – switch so effortlessly we don’t notice it happening. A lot depends on your skill as a writer.  You need to be aware of whose POV you’re writing in and when you make a switch, so the reader isn’t lost.  Also beware of accidentally slipping into the head of a minor character by having them “think” about the hero or heroine as they take their coats, for instance. Rather, have the POV character assume that the minor character doesn’t like them by their snooty expression, so we stay in the right head.

Got a question? Advanced or basic,

I’ll do my best to answer.


Proud friend of the National Year of Reading 2012

Established Writer in Residence 2012, Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre, Perth WA

On Twitter @valerieparv

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Holding out for a hero – beyond the writing

Every writer knows a book needs a hero, a heroine, secondary characters, a villain or three, a conflict and a resolution. But what about the other kinds of heroes your book needs? I mean the people who support your writing.

Writing is a solitary occupation. We’re writing when we’re staring out of windows. In fact that’s often when the “real” writing gets done, when ideas are formed from the rough clay of  “what ifs”, ready to be explored on screen or paper. At those times, we need the understanding and support of the people around us, our friends and family. They are the people likely to get their heads bitten off if they interrupt our musings by asking what’s for dinner, or where their socks might have gone. These true heroes love us anyway.

I was lucky to have the back-up of my late husband, Paul. He’d only ever known me as a writer and he was also creative, so understood the process better than the average engineer, doctor or postal worker. Yet I remember being on a deadline and feeling thankful when he offered to prepare dinner, only to be asked, “What are we having?” Like Snoopy, my answer was something like, “Aaaaarrrrggggh.” Thinking about a menu was the last thing I needed right then. These days my sisters, other writers, my agent and online friends are my unsung heroes, cheering me on when the going gets tough, celebrating milestones and knowing when to leave me alone to write.

Not everyone is so blessed. Family can sometimes be an obstacle to your writing. It takes a long time to see any income – some writers never do.  Or they make so little that others can’t understand why you keep going. They don’t get that if it’s in you to write, you’ll do it no matter what. The writing itself is your reward. They see your books using up time they regard as theirs, and distracting you from their needs.

It’s a balancing act to share yourself between a “day” job, your writing and the important people in your life. Creating a schedule can help, as can writing early in the morning or late at night. When I wanted to be with Paul while still making progress on a book, I’d watch a TV show with him and scribble ideas and notes on a clipboard at the same time. Involving your heroes in your work can also help, if they’re interested in brainstorming, reading for you, or being part of the process in some other way. Like so much in life, compromise is the key. It’s not selfish to want to explore your talent, nor should you accept anyone else’s idea of what’s right for you. Online heroes are out there, if you can’t find them where you are.

Thankfully, most of us have our heroes much closer to home. Who are the heroes in your writing life?

Valerie Parv

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