2019 Day 3 – Change Your POV

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

CHANGE YOUR POINT OF VIEW

We often get stuck writing in the same point of view or from the same perspective. Make an effort to write a story, today, that is different.

If you usually write in third person, try first.

If you usually write adult women, try a boy, or an alien, or a grown man.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

Day 30 – Change Your Point Of View

Welcome back to the penultimate day of your month of extreme short story writing.

After setting you free yesterday, I’m putting a few more limits on you again today.

The Prompt

Take a story that you wrote earlier this month, and tell it from a different point of view

The point of this prompt is to show you that sometimes a story benefits from being told in a different way. Noir stories work in first person because that’s what we’re used to. Something set in a Victorian era works well in Third Person Omniscient because that’s how Dickens wrote–it’s what we’re used to.

Use this prompt as an excuse to play with a story and make it richer, through voice.

Second Look – A writing prompt from Julie Duffy

Today I encourage you to take a second look at a story you’ve written before.

The Prompt

Take a story you’ve written before and write it again from a different point of view.

Tips

You can rewrite the events of the story, as viewed by someone else.

You could choose to use the original story as a jumping-off point, that simply informs your knowledge of this formerly-secondary character.

Feel free to write the story in a completely different form (if the first one was a series of letters, you could write this one in a more narrative form.

Change Your Point Of View

Today were looking at point of you again, but in a slightly different way

The prompt

Pick a point of view you don’t usually use and write a story in it

Tips

*Look back at the stories you’ve written this month or in the past. Do you have a favorite point of view? Do you always default to first person or third person? Write a story today in a different POV.

  • If you flip back and forth between different perspectives frequently, just decide which to use today based on what you’ve written so far this month. What have you done most of? Choose that.

  • Each point of view brings with it restrictions and possibilities. If you frequently right in the same point of view you may be limiting yourself

  • To demonstrate the power of POV, you may want to repeat the exercise we tried earlier in the month of taking a story that you’ve previously written and writing it from another point of view. This time however I want you to keep the same character as the protagonist. Simply change the “I said “to “he/she/it/they said”.

  • Try to focus on the opportunities that this new perspective offers. If you’re shifting from third person omniscient to a limited/first person perspective, **really dig into the facts really dig into the characters thoughts and emotions. In these more limited perspective there’s no excuse for “Telling Not Showing”. Everything can be written as if we’re riding along on their shoulder, experiencing everything with them.

  • If you’re moving from a limited perspective to a third person omniscient, celebrate the fight that you cannot see things from different peoples’ perspectives. The most effective, least confusing way to do this is to have seen breaks between each head hop in the short story. (You probably don’t want to do it more than a couple of times but it can be quite fun to have most of the story told one person’s perspective then have a line break and give another character’s perspective as the conclusion of the story revealing a lot about the truth of the situation that, perhaps, the first character didn’t know.)

  • If you hate moving away from your favorite point of view that’s fine. You don’t ever have to do it again. Sometimes creative failures are essential to teach you what to avoid in future.

Leave a comment telling us what you discovered in your writing today. Perhaps you are very versatile with point of view or perhaps this was ridiculously hard. What did you learn? And remember, if you’re enjoying these prompts,share them.

Rewrite A Story From Week One

Good news! You don’t have to get a whole new idea today…

This is the first of your Rescue Week prompts!

Prompts

Rewrite your First Person story from Week One

  • Try writing a story from a different in a different point of view. You could use third person limited, in which you can still only understand ‘hear’ the thoughts of the main character but which gives you greater flexibility. Or you could use use third person omniscient, which lets you head hop (just remember to limit that to places where you jump between scenes).
  • If you’re having trouble remembering what Third Person, Limited sounds like, try reading a little Harry Potter.
  • Trouble with the Third Person, Omniscient? Read some Dickens.
  • Another option is to rewrite the story from the perspective of a different character. You could stay in First Person, but now you’re telling the story from the antagonist’s point of view; or the point of view of a secondary character.
  • One of the benefits of doing this, is that you don’t have to get a whole new idea today. This can be a wonderful way to get a story finished when you’re running on fumes.
  • An added benefit: you might discover your story works better from a different perspective or in another character’s voice.

Day 15

This is the first of your Rescue Week prompts!

Prompts

Rewrite your First Person story from Week One

  • Try writing a story from a different in a different point of view. You could use third person limited, in which you can still only understand ‘hear’ the thoughts of the main character but which gives you greater flexibility. Or you could use use third person omniscient, which lets you head hop (just remember to limit that to places where you jump between scenes).

  • If you’re having trouble remembering what Third Person, Limited sounds like, try reading a little Harry Potter.

  • Trouble with the Third Person, Omniscient? Read some Dickens.

  • Another option is to rewrite the story from the perspective of a different character. You could stay in First Person, but now you’re telling the story from the antagonist’s point of view; or the point of view of a secondary character.

  • One of the benefits of doing this, is that you don’t have to get a whole new idea today. This can be a wonderful way to get a story finished when you’re running on fumes.

  • An added benefit: you might discover your story works better from a different perspective or in another character’s voice.

Leave a comment telling us how you got on. What choices did you make as you rewrote your story? How did it go?

Write A Story In Dialogue

We’re changing tack today: writing in dialogue!

The Prompt

Write a story containing only dialogue

  • You can write this in play format if you like, using each speaker’s name at the beginning of the line, but I would discourage you from using stage directions.
  • Try to convey everything from emotion to movement the setting in the characters’ words alone.
  • If you’re not using play formatting, limit the story to a dialogue between two characters, to keep things straightforward.
  • You could use the two characters you’ve been working on for the past two days since you already have their voices and a sense of who they are. Put them in a room together and see what happens!
  • As well as conveying setting, emotion and movement through words, concentrate on making each speaker sound different. If one is witty and speaks in one-liners, let the other be long-winded and speak in complex phrases with sub-clauses.
  • You can vary these rhythms throughout the story for each character. On character could start relaxed — using relaxed language rhythms — and become gradually more upset — using short choppy language, while the other one goes the other way. Or you could let one character go through a bell curve of these rhythms: starting upset, getting more relaxed, getting upset again; or vice versa.
  • A good way into a story like this is to have two characters discussing something, having an argument, or needing to reach a decision about something. Each should have a slightly opposing view. It can be more powerful emotionally if the two characters actually like each other and want there to be no conflicts between them.
  • You can resolve the story, or one character can storm off leaving everyone shouting “Where you going?” It’s entirely up to you.

Leave a comment to let us know how this went. Was it easy? Did it feel almost-impossible? Did your dialogue sound realistic?

Writing Prompt: First Person Story

Some people love first person some people hate it. Either way you’re using it today.

[Listen to me talk about this prompt on Anchor.fm]

The Prompt

Write a story in the first person

Tips

May 19 – Limits – Two Voices 

The Prompt

Write a story told only in dialogue

The Prompt

Write a story told only in dialogue

Tips

  • This can be a dramatic scene, designed to be read by two actors or it can be a story with ‘he said’ ‘she said’  dialogue tags.
  • With only two voices it should be possible to avoid using any dialogue tags at all, but you’ll need to work to keep the characters’ voices distinct.
  • Try to reflect, in their language, how they are feeling instead of relying on ‘stage directions’ (she said, nodding encouragingly).
  • Show agitation or excitement by making the language choppier. Like this. Really. I can’t believe … how could you?!
  • Allow characters to ramble when they are prevaricating, but try to avoid excessive use of “um” and “er”. Instead, let them go off on tangents, avoid the point.
  • Allow your characters to speechify (speak in a formal, unnatural style) if you want, but be conscious about it and consistent. Hey, it worked for Shakespeare and Aaron Sorkin!
  • Alternately, try to keep the voice of each character as realistic as possible. Remember that people talk at cross purposes, they interrupt each other, they don’t answer each other’s questions directly, worst of all, they often fail to listen to the other person at all because they’re planning their next riposte.
  • Try to pick two characters who reflect different outlooks or ages or stations in life (imagine the Dowager Countess talking to the cook. It’s more than just accent that sets them apart, it’s word-choice, rhythm, relative confidence, expectation, assumptions about life…)

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 18 – Limits: Third Person, Omniscient

The Prompt

Write A Story With An Omniscient Third Person Narrator.

Omniscient voice has fallen out of favor recently, which I think is a shame. Then again, I’m a fan of satire and enjoy a bit of Dickens now and then.

Omniscient voice can distance the reader from the characters a bit, and that’s not what the publishing industry thinks today’s readers want. However, it can be a fun challenge, and we’re taking it on today.

The Prompt

Write  A Story With An Omniscient Third Person Narrator. 

Tips

  • In this voice you are never entirely in one person’s head, but you can jump from head to head. It’s best to keep this consistent thought. Stay with one characters thoughts for a while, shift to another and stay there until the next piece of action ends. Otherwise, you’ll give your readers whiplash.
  • If you are not inside a character’s head, the narrator point out what a character is thinking by noting their actions and expressions.
  • Omniscient voice is great for satire, because the authorial voice can comment on the actions of characters, though you  probably want to use this sparingly.
  • If you’re having trouble finding the omniscient voice, imagine the voice-over at the start of the Winnie The Pooh cartoons, or read some Dickens.
  • See if you can pull off Omniscient without sounding like you wrote this in the nineteenth century. (I’m not sure it’s possible. Let’s find out!)

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 17 – Limits: Third Person – Limited

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Third Person, Limited

 

We’re writing in a much more conventional fashion today, good old third person, limited.

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Third Person, Limited 

Tips

  • Let the reader hear the thoughts of one person, and one person only. The narrator and the protagonist can infer information about other people’s thoughts, but the reader can never see inside those other characters’ minds. If this was a movie, the camera would swing around the protagonist, occasionally looking over her shoulder and through her eyes, never getting too far away from her.
  • This is the voice often used in detective stories, and mainstream fiction.
  • You don’t have to say ‘he thought’, to let us know what the character is thinking. In this POV if you make a declarative statement, it’s going to be clear that the ‘thought’ belongs to your POV character. For example: “The wind was picking up. Her hair whipped around her face, defying the extra-hold hairspray she’d used. Bob was going to wonder if she’d forgotten where she kept her hairbrush.” It’s clear the last sentence is the protagonist’s direct thought, right?
  • The advantage of this POV is that it keeps the reader close to the protagonist, emotionally. It also helps you set up suspense, since the reader can only know what the protagonist knows.
  • The disadvantage of this POV is that readers can’t see what’s happening ‘off-stage’ unless you use another device to reveal that information (like the way Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak allows us to eavesdrop on important scenes even when Harry’s not supposed to be there; or the way Isaac Asimov’s excerpts from The Encyclopedia Galactica fill us in on the politics, decisions and passage of time in the Foundation series).
  • Keep readers interested in your protagonist by giving them a desire, and an obstacle to overcome. A flaw and a special talent can help too. (Indiana Jones is a great example here: He always wants to save the priceless artifact for posterity, and he’s usually opposed by someone else who wants the same thing, but who has and Evil Purpose in mind. He’s a talented archaeologist, but he has a soft heart and a problem walking away from bullies, both of which get him into all kinds of trouble.)

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.