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Saturday, January 20 2018

This month the subject of our Round Robin blog is Point of View. Interestingly, or coincidentally, my brainstorming group, The Sandy Scribblers discussed this very topic at our meeting earlier this week.

If you’re an author, you’ve probably given this topic a lot of thought and have maybe tried writing in different points of view to see how it impacts giving the reader the information they need to know. If you’re a reader, you might very well have given the difference no thought at all, so long as you enjoyed the story and felt thoroughly engaged in the action.

The basic points of view are omniscient or author point of view, third person from one or more characters’ points of view or first person, which is a single character’s point of view. As my Scribbler buddies mentioned, there is also second person. Not used in story telling, at least not very often, it’s more about instructional information: as in, “Once you have all the parts removed from the packing and spread out in front of you, look for part number one. This is your base.” Or “To get to the high school, you drive south on Main Street and you’ll want to get in the left hand lane so you can turn left on Market, then go two blocks and the school will be on your right. Good for telling someone how to get something done, but not so good for telling stories.


Omniscient is one way for the author to let the reader in on information that the characters may not know. Perhaps you’re reading a story where Jack is handed court documents that have to be delivered to the courthouse right away. “Jack’s assistant, who should have been around to run errands had fallen in the parking lot and was not at her desk. Jack needed to be in the judge’s chambers but the papers still needed to be delivered. He’d have to run them across the street himself.” If the next line is, “Little did Jack know this decision would change his life,” This is omniscient because there is no way Jack could know his decision and the result, good or bad, would turn out to be life-changing. He has no way of knowing why his assistant is not at her desk either.


If Jack’s decision is being told in third person, it might read like this: “Jack hesitated. He was already running late. This was his assistant’s responsibility. Jack checked the woman’s cubicle, but it was empty. He sighed in irritation. He’d just have to run over to the courthouse himself and hope the judge wouldn’t be on time.”  


First person it might read like this. “These damned court papers should have been delivered yesterday, not handed to me now. If I’m late in the judge’s office, I’ll get skinned alive. Where is that airhead assistant who’s supposed to be helping me out, anyway? This is her job. I sighed and headed back out the door, taking the stairs two at a time. Maybe Judge Henderson will be late, too.” 


All of these tell the reader that Jack, presumably a lawyer or paralegal, has an assistant, that the assistant is a woman, but she’s not currently available, that he’s running late and has an important meeting with a judge, but now there are papers that need to be delivered to the courthouse right now. And they all tell the reader that Jack is stuck hurrying to get the papers delivered and hoping not to get in trouble with the judge. But which one draws you closer into the story? Which one puts you in Jack’s shoes and makes you feel his irritation?


Until now, all my books have been written in third person in the character’s viewpoints. I have no need to foreshadow coming events. If they surprise the characters, then they’ll surprise the reader too, which is good. I want to SHOW my reader what’s happening, rather than tell him. I want my reader to feel what my character is feeling or at least have some sympathy for his problems.


But I love and have always enjoyed reading first person, too. It’s a hard option to write well and still get information about other characters, their feelings and thoughts across to the reader when you are always in the first person character’s point of view. But when done right, it can draw the reader that much closer to the character. Being INSIDE the head of the point of view character, experiencing what they are thinking, feeling and seeing pulls me into the story, puts me right there, on the scene experiencing what the character is experiencing. So close that when the character has a close call, the I find myself holding my breath or puckering up for the kiss I can see and feel coming.


Here’s another example:

Omniscient or narrator point of view.

The woman walked through the early evening dusk as if there was no reason to fear anything, but this part of the park was off the beaten track and bad things had happened here before as dark closed in. Just a couple years ago, a teenager had disappeared never to be seen again in spite of exhaustive searches and pleas by her parents on the evening news. Of course, this woman hadn’t moved to Middletown yet, so she wouldn’t know about that.

Compare this third person – same scene.

Katy walked cautiously through the growing gloom. She’d never heard about anything bad happening here, but it was spooky just the same. Things could hide in the lengthening shadows. Things that made strange whispering noises and made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Maybe she should have gone the long way home.

Or same scene, first person:

The whispering sound came out of nowhere and my hair stood on end. I hesitated, heard nothing. What was I afraid of, anyway? That spooky sound is all in my imagination. I straightened my shoulders and marched on.


Which one makes you feel like you’re there? Right in that evening gloom and beginning to think you should have walked the long way home?

SO, that’s my opinion. Why not hop on over to these other blogs and see how other authors handle the choice of who’s point of view to tell a story in?


Dr. Bob Rich  
Connie Vines  
Helena Fairfax 
Fiona McGier 
Judith Copek 
Marci Baun  
Anne de Gruchy 
A.J. Maguire  
Anne Stenhouse   
Beverley Bateman 
Rhobin L Courtright 

Diane Bator 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:01 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, January 09 2018

A writer friend of mine started a Facebook page dedicated to positive, uplifting and encouraging thoughts. Each Monday there’s a new topic for us to post comments on. This week, it was “Trying something new.” I  got to thinking about how trying something new has enriched my life, challenged me to be a better person, given me some new insight, taught me humility, taught me grace and so much more.


A couple years ago when the subject of my Peace Corps experience came up, a woman told me she thought I was very brave to volunteer. That comment caught me off guard. Brave? Really? Admittedly, I didn’t join the Peace Corps when I was an idealistic young kid straight out of college with the belief that I could change the world, but rather, I was fifty-six. I’d been married, raised four kids, and buried by husband who died of cancer at the age of forty four. My youngest child had graduated from college and I was wondering “what next?” I was looking for an adventure. It never occurred to me that it might be a brave thing to do. It was stepping out of my comfort zone for sure. I’m lousy at languages and I knew I’d have to learn a new one in spite of that handicap. I’d have to dedicate two years of my life living half a world away in a very different place than I was accustomed to, doing who knew what for work, but that was part of the adventure.


Taking that leap of faith turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I have a family on the other side of the world who opened their home and hearts to me and taught me so much. I made friends I’d never have met had I not gone and enjoyed some of the most amazing experiences. I even met and spoke with a queen. I swam with humpback whales, taught English to grade school students, snorkeled over beautiful, colorful reefs, camped on deserted South Pacific islands, climbed a volcanic mountain and crawled and swam into caves. I was bit by a pig, learned to live in sweat-damp clothing all the time and welcome the rain when it came every afternoon. I heard church bells ring all over the island at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and learned how to weave a mat Tongan style. Working in a culture very different from my own was a challenge, but the rewards of taking that step out of my comfort zone outweighed the hardships about 100 to 1. So, maybe I didn’t change the world, but I changed the world for the people whose lives I touched. And they changed me forever.


So try something new. You just never know how much it might change you  -- for the better.


And if you need a little inspiration, check out this speech given by a Navy Admiral at a college graduation.


You can read more about my adventures in the Peace Corps under the Peace Corps tab on this website. 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 01 2018

It’s a New Year’s Day tradition to make resolutions both large and small. Promises most of us have already broken or forgotten before January turns into February. Some folk have never made a resolution and others have given up making them because it’s so easy to fail, but I think we should put new energy into the tradition. True, every new day is another chance to make your own or someone else’s life better, but why not take a moment to reflect on your failures from last year and make a pledge to make this year better?


Our country right now could use a LOT of positive vibes. There is so much divisiveness everywhere, in government, in the news, and in our neighborhoods. Why not take a moment to consider what you could do to make a change – even a small one? There was a popular advertisement this holiday season fir Toys R Us with the punch line, “The naughty list is not an option.” I think everyone in our country should take this to heart, children and adults. Just think what a great year we could all have if everyone tried in at least one area of their lives to behave as if they were determined not to be on that Naughty List! From the most public of places to the intimacy of our homes, a life with less strive, hate, anger and pettiness could become so much better for everyone with more positive energy, generosity, cooperation and respect.


My resolution this year is to find one nice thing to say or do for someone else each day. It might be something no one will ever know I’ve done. It might be something that lasts only a moment. But the intent will be to make the world I inhabit a happier, friendlier, more positive place for all the lives I touch. I know I can’t change the world. I can’t change the violence that erupts on our streets and in our lives. I can’t reverse decades of hatred and bigotry. I can’t stop men or women intent on creating mayhem. But I can make a change if I try hard enough for the people I know and care about, and perhaps for some who don’t know me, but whose lives will still feel the impact of my actions.


So, my challenge to you is to join me, and in the words of the New Seekers:

“I'd like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout the land.”



Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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