Monday, December 16, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Head Hopping' Quote of the Day...

’Head hopping’ is like ‘bed hopping’…it can get you into a lot of trouble if the new beds are not occupied by the current spouse. However, in either case, it makes life more interesting.”
Vince Mooney

Writing Quote of the Day...

“Writing with charm is writing with magical delight.”
Vince Mooney

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On Breaking Writing Rules…

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child."
1 Corinthians 13:11

Many writing rules are actually the children of more encompassing parent rules. For example, the rule that one should not employ more than one POV per scene is the child of the parent rule that states that one should not confuse the reader by making it unclear which character is having which thoughts.

Obviously, if a reader can’t tell which character is having which thoughts, then the reader will be drawn out of the story in a confusing effort to determine what’s happening. This is a most damaging type of alienation (anything that reminds the reader that she is reading a story) and doing this can cause the reader to throw the book against the wall. (Fortunately, book throwing happens  much less often given the growing popularity of eBooks.)

A writer can always choose to obey ‘child’ rules and all will be fine. Beginning writers are especially advised to do so. However, a more experienced writer can choose to obey the superseding parent rule and ignore the child rule.

For example, a writer might have a pivotal scene where four characters learn that they each have totally misunderstood a situation and now in this one scene they will learn the truth. The thoughts of each character, as the truth becomes evident, may well provide very exciting reading. The reader may very much want to know how each character will react to having been so totally wrong.


In this case, under the governing parent rule, the writer could employ four different POVs in the same tightly written scene. This is not really a case of breaking the ‘child’ rule against using more than one POV in a scene because a parent rule always has supremacy over child rules.

In order to use four different POVs, one after the other, in one scene the author would have make it crystal clear which thoughts belong to which character.  Given the situation in the above example, making each POV change crystal clear should not present a major problem to the experienced writer. Indeed, the context of the above example almost demands such a POV-changing approach.

The real danger of changing POVs too often within a scene is that it may seem willy-nilly while also diminishing the impact of the story.
Writers who knowingly follow parent rules should not be thought of as ‘lawless mavericks’ whose high sales volume gives them license to break all the rules. It is the parent rules themselves that allow writers to bypass the rules of their children.

Yes, but…

What about the making of several POV changes in the opening scene of a novel when the author wants to quickly establish the identity of the major character in the story?

In this case the parent rule still applies. If it is important to have four different POVs in one scene, as the novel opens, then the scene must make it clear who is thinking what thoughts. It is also important that all the POV character thoughts point to the major character.
Obviously, doing this gets increasingly harder to accomplish the more POV changes the author  attempts to make.  And while this may be difficult, it’s not impossible.

For example:

The main POV character enters a room where a cocktail party is going on. Two women and a man look at her as she makes her entrance.

Mary Jones entered the room on shaky legs. It took her just three seconds to spot three enemies. I was crazy to come here.

The hostess, Sally Grant, noticed Mary and gasped loud enough to be heard over the noise of the room. Her full glass of red wine fell to the floor. As if frozen in place Sally never looked down at her new white carpet. All she could see was that woman. What does that slut want here? Mary Jones at my party? It’s already a scandal.

Robert Smith heard Sally’s gasp -- the room fell silent. Robert slowly turned his head and even through the haze of far too much alcohol, he recognized the newcomer.  Mary Jones here? Tonight? Is she crazy? I’ve got to get out of here.

In the above example Mary Jones is the central focus of each new POV character’s thoughts. A reader encountering this scene at the start of a novel would naturally have a right to assume that Mary Jones is the main character in the story. She seems to be the center of attention.

The above four-POV-change scene is not an example of artistic merit but rather of how four POV changes could be clearly written within only 131 words of text.  Is having four POV changes in such a short space wise? Probably not but in some cases it might actually be imperative to do so. It is up to the experienced writer to learn both the child rules of writing and those of the parent. 

To sum it up, it is possible, by following higher order parent rules, to bypass child rules without becoming a ‘rule breaking’ outlaw writer or a prima donna of divine dispensation from the rules that mere mortal writers must obey.

One last thought. Couldn’t an author achieve much of same results by using physical proxies instead of POV changes? Yes, an author could ‘hint’ at a character’s mental state by using physical proxies; however, an author could never project the specificity possible by using explicit thoughts. Physical proxies are a good choice for beginning writers. I’ve written over 100 examples of physical proxies here.

Caveat: It is always a good policy to follow the ‘child’ one-POV-per-scene rule. The problem with following the parent rule, especially for experienced writers who are familiar with their major characters’ speech patterns, is this: what is perfectly clear to the author may be as clear as mud to their readers. When several POV changes are made in a scene the result needs to be proof read by a reader who knows nothing about the story a reader would not know at that point.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Writing Quote of the Day...

“A ‘sagging middle’ often results when an author’s writing becomes too weighty for the foundation to support.”
Vince Mooney

If Fictional Characters Could Speak...

“I can handle the story’s ‘black moments’ just fine. It’s my author’s ‘black moments’ that drive my crazy.”

Sydney in "Crinolines & Cowboys"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Quotation Quote of the Day...

“Some famous quotations amount to putting lipstick on a pig. The pig is not more beautiful but the sight is more memorable.”
Vince Mooney

Show & Tell...


Vince Mooney

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Writing Quote of the Day...

“Write like a reader. Read like a writer.”
Vince Mooney

Philosophy Quote of the Day...


“The most profound truths will forever remain hidden because those who discover them are wise enough to never reveal them". 
Vince Mooney

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wisdom from Willa Rogenia...Panhandle Philosopher

“I’ve read ‘Discourse on Method’ therefore I am.”

“Give me a dandy Regency hero anytime. Why would I want a hero who dresses and smells like I do?”

Confidence Quote of the Day....

“Confidence can inspire confidence but so can the appearance of confidence.”
Vince Mooney

On Silence...

Silence speaks in many voices:
There is the silence
of a dead child’s bedroom
of words unspoken
of questions unanswered
of prayers unheard
of threats unseen
of love unrequited
of memories unrecallable
of dispare
of nothingness 
Silence has a way of making itself heard.
Vince Mooney

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wisdon from Willa Rogenia...Panhandle Philosopher

"I'm a Regency fan therefore I am."

“I love reading Regency Romances because they always  have the best horses.”

To Pantser or Not to Pantser…

“Is it better, in the mind, to pantser and dream that you have a great story or to plot and thereby remove all doubt? That is the question.”
Vince Mooney

Confidence Quote of the Day...

“Confidence builds a bridge that we can never be sure is safe to cross.”  
Vince Mooney

Communication Quote of the Day...

“Often the truth provides the best camouflage to the deceitful.”
Vince Mooney

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wisdom from Willa Rogenia...Panhandle Philosopher

“I wear a hat therefore I am.”

My favorite romance heroines are supermarket checkers.”

Counter Quote of the Day…

John Donne 1572 - 1631

“Donne was wrong. All men are islands. They are born alone and they die alone. The omnipresent connection lies under the surface.”
Vince Mooney

Philosophy Quote of the Day...

“A question that has gone unanswered for over three thousand years can provide more useful insights than the sum of three thousand answered questions.”

Vince Mooney

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On Showing and Telling...

“Showing is like watching a movie in which every second of every scene was edited and selected by the director. Telling is like watching a live play where you can focus your attention on anything or anyone that interests you on the stage.”
Vince Mooney

Writing Quote of the Day...

“Beginning writers suffer because they think they have written a book after finishing the first draft. If only they knew that their book was only about twenty percent completed at that point, they would not become so discouraged when continuous rewrites are required.”
Vince Mooney

A Word from Beatrice Plotter...


“The ultimate plotter quickly writes a first draft and then proceeds to do six to ten rewrites. The ‘first draft’ was actually an extremely detailed plot outline. The ultimate plotter is very likely to call herself a pantser.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

Quotation Quote of the Day...

“Great quotations are not about original ideas but rather about the original expression of those ideas.”
Vince Mooney

Confidence Quote of the Day...

“Here she comes! Why couldn’t I have come up with a better elevator pitch?”

“Confidence is ofttimes proportional to the distance from the point at which it will be tested. The further away the event the more confidence one has."
Vince Mooney

Self-doubt Quote of the Day...

 “Without a very high estimate of the very talent you are doubting, self-doubt would not amount to a molehill.”
Vince Mooney

Wisdom from Willa Rogenia…Panhandle Philosopher

"I philosophize therefore I am."
“There would be far less pantsers if they had to wear chaps.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

'Streams of Enjoyment' Quotes...

“Any number of different streams of enjoyment can be layered into a narrative by a skillful writer.”

Streams of enjoyment can reward a reader each in its own way. A sagging middle is often a sign of having only one stream of enjoyment.” 
Vince Mooney

Poetry Quote of the Day...

“It would be wrong to think poetry must be good to have value. Bad poetry can be among the best poetry. The value of poetry comes not from what is on the page but what is created in the mind of the reader.”  
Vince Mooney

Writing Quote of the Day...

“Write a book that stays with the reader. A book that doesn’t end after being read.  A book that just hangs there in the ether calling the reader back time and again. In other words: write a book that is so deeply layered that it allows for many enjoyable reading excavations.”
Vince Mooney

Confidence Quote of the Day...

“Confidence has killed more cats than curiosity.”
Vince Mooney