Wednesday 25 March 2015

Points of View
Last week in the blog, I talked about reviews and their importance both to the writer and to prospective readers. When writing a review, we give our opinions or points of view. 

For writers, though, the point of view or POV is a decision we make even before we start to write. That may be just a simple choice between writing in the first person or in the third person. Especially in short stories, you would stick to one character's POV. We have to ask ourselves who is telling the story and whose eyes and voice will we be using. There are advantages and drawbacks to both writing in the first and third person. Writing in the first person allows you to create a very credible character where you know his or her deepest thoughts and emotions. The limitation of this is that you can only describe what you saw and this could set you apart from the action. If you are using the 3rd person, you can still relate the whole story through one character's eyes or point of view. As Della Galton has written in her book, The Short Story Writer's Toolshed, 'viewpoint is very important when it comes to making your characters sympathetic - as readers, we tend to warm to the character whose head we are in.' 

In longer stories and novels, the advantage of the 3rd person is that you can introduce other people's viewpoints and then the reader may know something that another character doesn't. In the Monday evening meeting of WriteGroup, we had an excellent discussion about a member's writing which was written in the 3rd person. We talked about whether the writing was from the narrator's POV or the character's point of view. In the chart, it would be called the 'Objective' 3rd Person and the 'Limited Omniscient' 3rd Person.

Here is an interesting article about what fiction editor Beth Hill calls 'Deep POV' from The Editor's Blog Thank you to fellow writer, Sue McDonagh, for sharing it. I hadn't heard the term before. Beth Hill suggests that with deep POV, 'readers see scenes through the viewpoint character, feel story events as that character does.' She goes onto say, 'Deep POV allows writers to do away with he thought, he felt, he wondered, he saw, all those phrases that intrude into fiction, that unnecessarily encumber the story.' Perhaps we do this when we write anyway and just not label it with the term 'deep POV'.

As writers and readers, which do you prefer - 1st or third person? I tend to write most of my stories in the first person. In my dual narrative novel, Clara's story is told in the 1st person whereas Rose's is in third. Although I'm not in Rose's head as I am Clara's, I hope that by telling the story from her viewpoint consistently, she still comes across as a credible character whose thoughts and feelings are conveyed to the reader through what she says and does. 

How many of you write in the 2nd person? I have only written one story in the 2nd person and feel that the emotion of the piece comes across as it is based on personal experience. It doesn't fit the short story guidelines for a magazine or a competition as it reads more like a monologue so it's sitting in my file going nowhere. Any suggestions?

Thank you for reading my blog. I'd love it if you'd comment about which POV you prefer. You may follow me on Twitter on @JanBayLit and on Jan Baynham Writer Facebook Page.

Friday 13 March 2015


Alfie Dog Fiction is running a new READER COMPETITION where all you have to do is download a paid story during March and send a short review of the story (approx 30 – 50 words). The winner will receive £100 and two runners up will each win one of their short story collection books as either a paperback or ebook as they prefer. The competition seems to be a good way to promote the importance of reviews even for individual short stories. I'd love it if you chose to review one of my stories. You'll find them HERE.

The importance of reader feedback cannot be ignored and could be said to serve a number of purposes:

  1. Reviews help other readers choose what they want to read. Your opinion can help persuade or dissuade a reader from purchasing or borrowing a book. 
  2. They can boost readership for an author. Review sites can be an excellent way of marketing a new book.
  3. Reviews help you analyse a book in a way that you don't tend to do when you are actually reading it. It's the reflection afterwards that helps form your review.
  4. They help writers know which parts of their writing are working and what needs to be improved.
Author, Luisa Plaja, gives her top tips for writing a good book review on the Book Trust site. (Please click on the link for the full interview.) In summary, she recommends:
  1. Starting with a few sentences about what the book is about but obviously no spoilers.
  2. Thoughts and feelings about what you liked about the book and the way it was told.
  3. What you didn't like, what didn't work for you.
  4. Summary of the review, the type of reader the book may suit
  5. Any marks or star rating
A writer friend of mine, Kath Eastman, regularly writes reviews on her blog on Nut Press. This week she reviewed James Hannah's debut novel, The A-Z of You and Me. It's a very positive review that explains why she thinks the novel is successful. She talks about the way that Hannah has written the story and the review is analytical as opposed to being descriptive. 

What about poor reviews? Can a bad review still be helpful?
What do you think about the importance of reviews?

Thank you for reading my blog. It would be great if you left a comment about your review experiences. :-) 

You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.