Category Archives: Point of View

Animal Testing? NO WAY!


Long ago, I met Claudia Mills when shecame to speak at an SCBWI event. Oh, I LOVED her immediately. Little did I know, I had found a writer who’s books I loved right at the same time and had been reading all the author’s works. AND IT WAS CLAUDIA! AND THEN I MET HER AND REALIZED THIS IS MY FAVORITE GAL!

Anyway, I said to Claudia, “Do you like Oreos?”

She gave me an odd look. “Yes. Why do you ask?”

“Because your characters always eat them when they have a snack.”

People know who I am when they read my books, too. Bits and pieces of me slip through.

As writers, we must remember we are writing for teens or kids and not writing to drive home an agenda. Spoon-feeding a reader isn’t fun for the reader.


What is the most controversial thing in your book?
Is it there because you want to make a point? Is it there because you are trying to change someone’s mind about something? Or are you just telling your story?

Go through your work.

Is this what a kid would say? Think? Feel?

Leave a comment

Filed under CLW, Exercises, Point of View, Voice, writing process

15-Minute Monday

Last week I was served papers.

I don’t know why, but this feels like the last big bump with this individual. Like, if I can make it through this, if I can be dignified, honest, and do my best to protect myself and my family, this will be gone for good.

Of course, life always has ‘things’ in it, right?

‘Things’ that make us stretch and hurt and worry and laugh and rejoice and wish and pray and talk to our friends and write blog pieces.

We’re different after each battle, after each joyous occasion.

Just like our characters should be.

Once I got a book on someone’s recommendation. I remember the title but I won’t tell you.  There was a lot of buzz from the publisher. The writer was gonna go places. Make tons of money. I have to admit I was both excited and jealous. So I opened the book and read. To my disappointment the feisty main character never changed. She started out a smartie-pants who wanted something, got this something, and was neither better nor worse for it. She never struggled. Never failed. Never really won or lost.

The deal is, by the end of the book our characters must change.

They cannot be the same at the end of the novel as they were in the beginning. They have to have ‘papers served ‘ to them. They have to have hard times-even if this is a funny book. There have to be obstacles that the character has to get over, on her own. As we read and watch a character stumble, get back up, try again, grow, change, become more exciting, we root for them, weep with them, love them.

What I find really cool as a writer is that I change, too, as I work on my books.

When I start a new work, I am one person. By the end of the novel, if I’ve done my job as a writer, I see the world a little differently. I’m more compassionate. Want better things for my friends and for those I read about in the news or see on Facebook that I only know there. I’ve learned things about people and places and events. A topic I may have felt fiercely about–I see it differently. Maybe more fully? It’s an exciting to see I am what? better? more human? because of my work.

Writers can change bits of the world.

We start with our characters, move to ourselves and hopefully touch our readers.


A deep breath, now, as I step into a scary part of my life.

I’ve got a few obstacles to overcome.

Let’s see what happens.


Filed under Character, CLW, Life, Point of View, writing process

What’s Your Point of View?

by Lisa Sledge

I finished reading The Tale of Despereaux two days ago. I’d never read it before. Shocking, really, since it’s a Newbery winner, a movie, and written by Kate DiCamillo.

I love Because of Winn Dixie.

In Despereaux, Kate used a strong omniscient voice. I’ve experimented with this for my own WIP. It’s really hard. So I wondered, as I read, what makes an author choose one point of view over another?

There’s a huge trend in YA and children’s books for stories in the first person because it brings the reader closest to the protagonist. Third person is a standard POV in novels.  It puts another degree of distance between the reader and the characters, yet still keeps them close. But what about omniscient?

I watch Brandon Sanderson‘s writing classes on youtube. He said that using an omniscient POV puts the greatest degree of distance between the reader and your characters, that it’s been out of favor for at least 20 years, and basically stamped the words “DO NOT ATTEMPT ” across it. Everything else I’ve heard or read seems to be in agreement.

Why did Kate DiCamillo use the omniscient POV for her story? And don’t tell me it’s because she’s awesome and therefore she can do whatever the heck she wants. That’s true, but she’s also a gifted and inspiring artist. She wouldn’t have done it without a valid reason.

This is my theory. I think the POV can help define your novel’s voice and become part of the entertainment. And I also believe that sometimes you need distance in your story. The Tale of Despereaux is a book for young children, yet terrible things happen. There are death sentences, rats who strip little mouse bones clean, tortured prisoners, child slavery, abuse, a dead queen, and a kidnapping. The distance of the omniscient voice allowed her to present difficult material to a  sensitive audience.

And you know what? I liked it.

I also think it takes serious talent to make omniscient POV work. Which is why Kate’s book won a Newbery and mine is being rewritten.

What is your favorite POV as a writer? Is it different from what you enjoy reading?


Filed under Point of View, Revision, Voice, writing process

Three Things Thursday!

Cheryl Van Eck

“The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and work off the resonance.”
Richard Price
I love this concept. Disney/Pixar in particular are geniuses at this. They can wrap so much emotion into the smallest object. Remember Mulan, when they reach the village that had been burned to the ground and they found the doll? Or Pocahontas, when Kocoum dies and he grabs her mother’s necklace as he falls and it shatters? And the note in the back of Ellie’s Adventure Book in Up?
All of these tiny, nearly insignificant artifacts pack major emotional resonance. If the big picture is too overwhelming to you as a writer, then it will be to your reader as well. It’s all in the details. A three page description can (and should) be replaced with a small, emotionally significant detail. And suddenly you’ve gone from long winded and dull to memorable. Unforgettable, really.
As you’re revising (and hopefully cutting), keep an eye out for this. Make your descriptions carry their weight. They aren’t there just so you can string pretty words together, and they aren’t there so you can have a laundry list of what a place looked like. Infuse emotion and character. Descriptions have been deadbeat freeloaders for too long. Let’s put them to work!
Brenda Bensch
My husband was lucky enough to be in Greg Leitich Smith‘s class at WIFYR this year.  Again.  Greg was his teacher two years ago, the first time Herb had attended this great workshop.  One of the things I admired, at a distance, was the variety of small writing assignments Greg came up with.  Here’s one of them from this year:
What does the person closest to your antagonist think about him or her?  (My first reaction: WHO is that person? Why is s/he that close to someone who is purported to be the “villain” by the end?  Why is s/he close to such a person?)
And my challenge for you: write a 300-500 word response to Greg’s question.  You may choose to write this in either 1st or 3rd person.
From Me
How is your summer writing going?
Are you letting life get in the way of your goals to work on your book?
Who in your family might help you accomplish your writing by giving you some free space?
Is that person you?
Remember, we give ourselves what we think we deserve, we make time for what we truly love and what’s important to us.
Are you doing that for your novel?

1 Comment

Filed under Character, Exercises, Point of View, three thing thursday, writing process