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Matthew 17:20, my favorite verse. "... If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."



Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Favorite Points of View by Bill Hopkins


MY FAVORITE POINTS OF VIEW

by

Bill Hopkins
 
ozark valley in the fog.jpg

 

FIRST PERSON

  • First person: This is a story that is usually narrated by the protagonist. If you use this, then your first sentence--or certainly your first paragraph--should make it clear. "Sally whirled around and slapped me in the face." You know that someone (the narrator) has incurred Sally's wrath and he's going to tell the reader about it.
  • Advantages: First person allows the narrator to develop a distinctive voice that no one else in the story has (or should have). The reader will learn to like or at least understand why the narrator acts the way he does. He can ramble on about relevant points inside his own head without anyone else but the reader knowing what he's thinking. The reader also witnesses the stress placed on the narrator and how that causes him to act in a certain way. The reader learns about the world of the narrator quickly.
  • Disadvantages: The narrator must be in every scene or he and the reader will be subjected to a lot of retelling by other characters what happened off-stage. But even that may be skillfully handled so that the narrator doesn't appear to be just a listening post where different folks come to tell their tales. Also, other characters and not the narrator must describe him or the narrator must slip in hints at his appearance. "Sally slapped me so hard that I thought my scrawny mustache had been knocked off my face." And, please, avoid the cliché of having the narrator look in a mirror and telling the reader what he sees. Finally, avoid as many "I's" as you can. "I went to the store. I bought some eggs. I took the eggs to Sally." That soon becomes boring.

 

THIRD PERSON CLOSE

  • Third Person: An unknown narrator is telling the story. Generally, the narrator is never identified. Writers and readers have an unspoken agreement that this is one of those "willing suspension of disbelief" that someone witnessed and is able to tell the story. There are different kinds of third person. What makes my favorite version of third person "close" (other people have different terms for it) is that the narrator is in only one character's head at a time. "Sally slapped him." That would be the first line of a book written in third person (close or otherwise). Further on in the story, the reader realizes that the narrator can see into only one person's mind. "He felt the stinging blow and didn't like the look on Sally's face." In fact, third person close is almost a first person viewpoint using different pronouns.
  • Advantages: You can describe your character in the narration. As a reader of fiction, I rarely remember what a person looks like while reading the story. As a writer, my descriptions of people tend to emphasize oddities of their appearance or perhaps one or two nods to a physical description. Another advantage that draws me to this point of view is that you can still show the direct thoughts of the person. "Sally slapped him. That's the second time she's done that to me!" or "Sally slapped him. That's the second time, he thought, that she's done that to me."
  • Disadvantages: You must be especially careful not to get into anyone else's head. You must show us what the other person is doing to determine his reaction to what is going on or, of course, have the other person say something that presents his state of mind. This sounds easy, but it's tricky. In one story, I had written about the protagonist and two companions doing something like "trudging dispiritedly" (it wasn't really that bad). My most heartless editor (my wife, Sharon Woods Hopkins) pointed out that I was expressing the thoughts of the other two people as well as the protagonist. Which, of course, I was.

 

Play around with different points of view. See what fits your protagonist the best. You'd be amazed how a character changes when you change that character's point of view!

 

For more information, read these two articles:

Fiction: Point of View (Writer's Digest)


 

Point of View in Fiction (Fiction Writers' Mentor)


 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Publicists for Self Published Authors? Has anyone tried this?

As those of you who follow me know, almost a year ago, I signed on with a distributor. I wanted to experiment and see if this was a wise move for a self-published author. As of yet, I'm still undecided.

In order for stores to want to order your books, they have to know you exist. This comes through advertisement. I agreed to pay for the Munce ads which set me back quite a bit. Although they did bring me notice and sales, I'm afraid it will be some time before the ads pay for themselves.

What has worked so far, is paying my distributor to showcase my books at the Inter. Christian National Retail Show. I also believe if I'd participate in other ads that would help, but that won't happen until the former ads are recouped through sales.

What does work then? I'm wondering that myself. I've been told hiring a publicist would help. It should help -- especially if you pay $2-3000 for their work. But will it pay for itself?

Has anyone tried this route and would you be willing to share your experience? Let me know and you can share your posts with the rest of us.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bill Hopkins and His Law of Flip-Flop

Welcome Bill Hopkins and thanks for stopping by!
 

I killed a tick on the plane because I'm a writer.
After I killed the tick, I realized that I'd devised one method for blasting apart a writer's block.
But first the grisly part.
I recently flew on a commercial flight to New Orleans. After takeoff, with the seat belt sign still lit, I felt a tick crawling on my neck. I grabbed the critter between a thumb and forefinger to prevent its escape. I had no way to kill the brute.
Ticks are arachnids, meaning they're spiders. Who bite humans. And suck our blood. And transmit diseases. Ticks serve no useful purpose on earth. I am proud of my loathing for these disgusting tiny monsters.
But how could I kill it? I could've mashed against the tray table in the upright position. What if I slipped and dropped the tick? It might crawl on me again and wind up in a place that I couldn't reach while strapped in. Even if I successfully mashed the thing on the table, my seat mate may not have appreciated the nasty thing decorating our space.
The TSA goons won't allow nail clippers or pocket knives on planes. I'd left my miniature yet deadly Swiss Army knife at home. Lighters may not be verboten but you can't use on inside the cabin of a plane. My fellow passengers would've probably thrown a blanket over me and sat on me until the plane landed if I'd flicked my Bic to singe the tick.
A Bic? A thought formed.
After thinking about my dilemma for a few minutes, I realized the answer was in my pocket. I'm a writer. I carry a notebook and pen (blue ink, of course). That provided me with a perfect weapon. The tick expired at the point of a ballpoint pen. I have the bloody corpse in my notebook to prove it.
If you are stuck anywhere in your work in progress, stop and look around. What tools do you have right in front of you? Are you defining your problem by the tools you have? That's not good.
Abraham Kaplan, in The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science, said, "I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding."
The end of a ballpoint pen makes a great device not only for writing but also for killing ticks. What are you overlooking in the world you've created? What items in your work can be used for something they weren't created for?
I call it the law of the flip-flop, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a writer a tool for creation and the writer will find destructive uses for it.
Go forth and wreak some havoc.
 

Bill Hopkins

COURTING MURDER

RIVER MOURN

My website with preview:


The Judge Rosswell Carew Mystery series


 
After being in the self-published world for a few years, I find I have less and less to share with my audience other than what I already have. With that in mind, I'm opening the door to other self-published authors in hope what they have to share will increased your knowledge and inspiration.

So please tune back in for wisdom from Bill (Judge) Hopkins, author and friend.
http://tinyurl.com/Judge-Bill-Hopkins-Website