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Blogging By the Sea
Monday, February 16 2015

Another writer and I were talking about point of view recently. We were discussing the prevailing wisdom in the writing world that the point of view you want to be in for any given scene is that of the person with the most to lose, or gain. We also discussed well-known best-selling authors who break all the point-of-view rules and head-hop so much that even their biggest fans get dizzy, but that’s a subject for another day. The latest weather report for the northeast gives me an excellent example to explain how very different the same event can be experienced depending on whose point of view you see it from.

Huge white flakes are dancing past the window when you wake up and you can’t even see to the end of your own driveway. The car is snowed in again and it doesn’t look like the street had been plowed either. There are already several inches of the new stuff on the ground and the weatherman eagerly displays a map showing this storm is far from over. Is another day of snow a good thing? Or a bad thing? Is there excitement? Fear? Worry? Or just grin and bear it?

You’re a kid with a brand new sled and it's a school day - another ten inches of snow is most definitely a good thing. A GREAT thing. But if you’re the kid’s dad and you have to shovel the driveway before you can get out for work, or you take public transportation and you end up standing in the wind and blowing snow for a half hour because the bus is late your view is decidedly less positive. And what if you’re the family dachshund desperate to find a place to do your business and get back to the warmth of the house? Or the mom who has to take yet another day off of work because there’s no school. Again!


The same event. The fourth Monday in a row with a foot or more of snow. So many points of view to see it from.

The Fisherman who knows his boat will sink if he can’t find a way to get to the dock and clear the snow off it.

The guy in the plow who’s already been up all night clearing streets.

The owner of a building who knows that the weight of the snow already on the roof is more than the roof is rated for and here comes more.

The policeman, or nurse, or doctor who can’t take the day off, but the roads aren’t plowed yet. They’re going to have to pray they can get to work safely.


And that’s just a snowy day in New England in 2015. Think about the books you write or read.

What if someone has a gun? How many different points of view? The man with the gun? Or the person the gun is pointed at? The father or mother or lover of the person the gun is pointed at? Maybe it’s a cop trying to make a split-second decision – shoot or not? Or maybe the man holding the gun is trying to work up the courage to end his own life. There could be half a dozen people in the scene with the gun, but who has the most to lose? Whose point of view adds the most tension and emotion to the scene?

Point of view is important. If you want excitement, then maybe the snow should be seen from the eyes of that kid with the sled or a brand new BB gun. If you want a sense of urgency, then maybe it’s the doctor with a very sick patient waiting for him to get to the hospital or a robber hoping the bank teller will hurry up. A feeling of impending disaster? Try the fisherman with his life savings tied up in a boat about to sink under the weight of the snow or a a handfull of soldiers outnumbered ten to one. Point of view does more than tell a story. It sets the tone and lets the reader know what’s important. Point of View makes all the difference in how emotionally invested the reader will be in the story.

Posted by: Skye AT 06:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 10 2015
Keeping it all Straight

There are a lot of great workshops for writers, and I’ve picked up a ton of super tips to take home and incorporate into my writing style. Some have been story-savers, some have made me think, some have pushed me in a whole new direction. Almost all have managed to light at least a flicker of excitement that sends me back to my desk eager to get back to my work in progress. In the last two weeks, it’s turned out that both of my regular writer’s meetings have featured presentations on plotting and outlining, and in spite of not being a plotter, even these workshops sparked something for me to take home. Is someone trying to tell me something?

I admit, I’m a list-maker. Doesn’t matter if I’m considering New Year’s resolutions, going to the grocery store or out on errands, lining up my personal Honey-Do list or getting ready to close up the house before I head to New England for the summer, there is always a list. A handwritten list. Usually on a clipboard on my counter. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of crossing things off and seeing progress. If I complete a task that was not on the list, I add it and cross it off, too. Hey, I did it, I deserve the credit!!


But when it comes to writing, I’ve been more of a Pantser than a plotter. I do know where and how my story will end when I start and often even write that grand finale scene before the book is even partially written. I also have a detailed backstory for my main characters, which is written  - typed that is, and printed out for the working notebook. If there is a family involved, I often draw up the family tree and fill in things like spouses and kids and grandparents. But no outline.


So, I come home from these back-to-back workshops on outlining and plotting and I’m wondering if I should give it a try.  If I’m good with lists – why not a list of chapters or scenes? So I spent the week between workshop 1 and 2 with the KISS outline plan offered up by a man whose books I love reading and who seems to have a good grasp on the value of outlining. What I came up with seemed easy and straightforward, but didn’t really do much more than put the storyline previously rattling lose in my head on paper. Workshop 2 done by another great author I admire included a story-board which seemed like another great idea. I got myself a display board at Michael’s and dug out my multi-colored Post-its. For three days I jotted ideas, plot points, required events, scenes, random thoughts and other bits and pieces on Post-its. Then I carefully arranged all the sticky bits on the board where it seemed most appropriate for them to go. NOW, I’m ready to write.

Or am I? What I didn’t take into consideration was the layout of my workspace. A big story-board, either a cardboard display or a blank wall might work great in big homes with spacious offices. But I just didn’t know where to put it in my cozy office in my beach bungalow. But then I recalled yet another super author who explained how she had a notebook with a page for each chapter onto which she put Post-its with various notes and reminders for her stories. I’d tried it, but had abandoned it because being a “pantser” I tend to end a chapter when a really good hook comes along and I never know when that might be ahead of time. But what if I combined these ideas?


I am excited with the result and eager to see how it goes as the book unfolds. I used card-stock, punched holes and put them in a slim binder then transferred all the neat little Post-it notes, plot points and events, dark moments, first kiss, resolution and finale. It just might be working because in the first two days after it was assembled, I got over 4000 words written. I did have to take yesterday off to create a 15-year timeline. Since my WIP is book #4 in a series, I discovered I needed to have a visual (another list!) of all the recurring characters, when they graduated, got married, had kids, moved, where they moved to so I wouldn’t end up having them married in one book, then only engaged in the next, or something worse. So, NOW I’m on a roll. With a List and an Outline.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


Posted by: Skye AT 12:34 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida

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