Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brain Jumping

On April 25, 2010, Mya wrote,

...how do you change viewpoints in a story without making it confusing? I know you did it in Ever, and I have a story that goes the same way, but it’s not working out.

In Writing Magic I define the various points of view (POV), and there are many other sources as well.  Also, my post of October 21st, 2009, is related to this one.

When I wrote the first draft of Ever I wrote it in third-person omniscient.  The effect, alas, was that the reader couldn’t feel close to anyone.  Third-person omniscient doesn’t have to work out that way; I just couldn’t get it right in this case.  Then I tried first person from Kezi’s POV, put she isn’t present for many plot developments.  If I'd stuck with just her, the reader would have been unaware of them either, which led me to the alternating narration.

If you and I enter the same party or walk into the same store or even examine the same pair of slacks, our attention will be drawn to different things.  With the slacks, you may be looking for quality; I may be a complete sucker for black-and-white checks (actually, I am) and not care about anything else.

Same with characters.  When you switch from one first-person POV to another, you take on the world view of each character.  If Willis is a cynic examining slacks, he may be looking for quality, but he’ll be expecting to find a flaw.  When you switch over to Allie, who’s easily pleased, she falls in love with seven pairs of slacks in seven seconds.  In writing the scene, you need to reflect their different thoughts and feelings in their separate narrations.

Their voices on the page need to differ too.  In Ever, the male character, Olus, is educated, and Kezi doesn’t know how to read.  The vocabulary in his chapters is harder, because he knows more words.

In the example of Willis and Allie, here’s Willis:  I turn the pants inside out, frowning, then erase the frown because Allie is watching and she likes to tease me, but it's an effort to keep my forehead flat.  No lining, naturally.  What do you expect for eighty-nine dollars?  Especially when the sweat-shop laborer probably earned eighty-nine cents, if she was lucky.

This could be Allie: Wow!  I love this store.  Listen to the music!  Great beat.  Slacks, slacks, slacks.  OMG.  It’s Slacks City in here.  The buyer must be a genius.

You have vocabulary, sentence structure, emotional reactions, and thought content as your tools for creating distinctive voices.  And maybe more elements I haven’t thought of.  Please weigh in with comments.

An interesting example of multiple POVs is Bat 6 by Virginia Euwer Wolff, which is about a girl’s baseball team, and there are twenty-one - count them! - first-person POV characters.  It’s a fascinating book that can be read by middle-grade readers and up.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is a tour de force of multiple POVs.  I read enough to know what an accomplishment it is, but I didn’t stick with it.  This one would be for high school and above.

If you read these books, notice the devices the authors use to create unique voices.  I remember from The Poisonwood Bible that one of the main characters is a master of palindromes.  How original!

Shifting POV makes storytelling more complicated.  Possibly my biggest problem as a writer is that I tend to over-complicate.  I’m always spinning ideas on top of other ideas, and the task of getting through a book becomes much harder.  Of course, layered, complex stories are good.  So can be simple, direct ones.  I’m thinking of The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, both for high-school level and above.  The point is that you should consider your reasons for multiple viewpoints. 

Here are some occasions when it may be worth the work.  These are just what I can think of.  I’d welcome more ideas.

1.    It’s fine and brave to try something new.  If you’ve never written from more than one point of view and you want to see how it goes, that’s an excellent reason all by itself.

2.    You can’t tell your story in the first person because your main character isn’t present for extended events that the reader needs to know about.  I say extended because short events can be communicated by phone, email, text messages, even a magic book, as I used in Ella Enchanted.

3.    Your story belongs to two or more characters more or less equally, and you don’t want to jump within a scene from one character’s head to another, which is what you’d have to do if you wrote in omniscient third person.

4.    Your main characters are distant from one another in time or place or culture.

5.    Your main character is an unreliable narrator, and you want another voice for balance and objectivity.

6.    Truth is elusive in your story.  You want the reader to piece it together by combining points of view.  This approach is probably too sophisticated for any but young adult (and adult) readers.

7.    Again, truth is elusive.  You are going to go over the same events repeatedly from multiple points of view.  Your reader will figure out what really happened.  This also may be only for older readers.  The classic Japanese movie Rashomon (high school and above again) is a mystery told this way.

In numbers two through four above, you might also write in omniscient third person, a perspective I love and find difficult to pull off.  An omniscient narrator provides a consistent voice, but this POV can distance you and the reader from your main characters, since the narrator is on the outside.  Or a cacophony of thoughts and feelings can slow your story down to a glacial pace.

Here are two prompts:

•    Dream up five characters on an urban commuter train.  Write a page from the POV of each of them.  Reveal why they’re on the train, what’s awaiting them at the end, the issue that’s uppermost in their minds.  Some calamity happens: the train hits a tree or runs somebody over or a passenger becomes ill - whatever.  Write what ensues from the POV of each of them, a page for each.  You can either advance the story with each shift of POV or retell the same events.  If you need to, go back and revise any of your first pages to fit what follows.

•    Tell a story from the points of view of the pets in a household, more than one species.  How would a dog think?  A cat?  A fish?  Turtle?  Parrot?  There is a long tradition of storytelling through animal voices.  One of my favorites when I was little was Black Beauty, which I reread not too long ago and still enjoyed.

Have fun, and save what you write!

37 comments:

  1. I don't think you give yourself enough credit, Mrs. Levine. Sure, I'm sucker for first-person stories. I'm not sure I would have finished the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" books if I wasn't, since I was a little unsure about them at first. In keeping with the topic, the author, Rick Riodan, has written another best-selling book, "The Red Pyramid," which I personally don't like as much, but it is good, and switches first person characters every few chapters. I think he handled it amazingly. The narrative is told as if the two siblings were making an audio recording, and every once in a while, one will steal the mic from the other and talk for a while. This causes enough of a pause to figure out who's talking. (Plus the fact that it says at the start of each chapter.) Each of them had scenes that only included them, and some events were better told by one character then the other. I think a few times, one mentioned that they were glad the other had done a certain part for some reason, like the bit was especially scary for them or negatively emotional. Each character had a really different voice, so it was easy to tell which was which.

    But as I was saying, I think you're too modest about your third-person writing. I've read all your "Princess Tales," and I really like them. I especially love "The Fairy's Mistake," because I've read that old fable a thousand times, and I liked your idea of what might have happened afterward. "For Biddle's sake" is another of my favorites.

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  2. Thanks so much for this post! I needed it. I have a question, though. When shifting from character to character in a story, how do you know when to stop? Like, how complicated is too complicated? I'm writing a story in which four different characters are taking turns being the main character, although I consistently write it in 3rd Person POV. They each have a story to tell, and they all have questions about their past that need to be answered. It all fits together in the end, but it's kind of complicated while getting there. I'm a little afraid that this story is too complicated, but I'm not sure how to tell.

    @Maybeawriter - This post made me think of Rick Riordan as well. I would recommend reading The Red Pyramid as an example of switching back and forth from POVs. Both characters had distinct personalities, and I think the switching helped the story.

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  3. Thanks again for the wonderful post!

    I've read The Red Pyramid as well, and I agree that it's a wonderful example of telling a story from multiple point of views. Rick Riordan is very good at giving his characters distinct voices. My work in progress is written in limited third-person, but I have an idea for NaNoWriMo where I would write in first person.

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  4. This is a very interesting topic. I have to say I haven't actually thought of the POV myself that much. It just comes to me. Mostly it's third person omniscient, where I generally stay with the "main character", but at parts flip to other characters... mainly to the opposing ones or the close friends who have a side story to tell.

    Sometimes I write in third person but only focusing on one character.
    Sometimes I switch POV often, without being completely omniscient. But that is pretty rare, and also rare for me is first person narrative. I used to not like it at all, but then I realised I've actually written a story in it. I've written a few stories in first person narrative, and it was natural and not that hard. It just depends on the story. There is no way I could've written some of them in first person, and same thing the other way around in some cases.

    I think it's interesting how the POV jsut comes to me without me thinking about it that much, and for some others it's the opposite; I know people who have to think through the POV very carefully at first.

    I read a book a while ago where the POV was interesting. It changed every chapter, evenly taking turns between the three main characters. It never lingered on the same events, but was always moving the plot forward. It was done very well. There was another book I started reading around the same time, but I just couldn't get past the first few chapters, because it was horrible! It had the same idea of I think four main characters, each chapter focusing on one of them. They weren't taking that even turns, though, and they were mostly insights on the same events all over again. Also, what annoyed me most was that the chapters were often about one page long, or even less. It was like reading a bad written roleplay where four people were taking part in.

    I'd say that regardless of your POV you should make sure the reader stays with you and is given the time to bond with at least one character. POV itself doesn't matter to me much.

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  5. I have a question for Mrs. Levine...
    I was wondering if you could give us a breakdown on how long it takes you to write an average novel, from the inklings of an idea to the first draft to the printing to promotion, etc. What takes the longest? Do different books take significantly different amounts of time? Do you have deadlines? Have you ever tried NaNoWriMo? Am I asking way too many questions?

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  6. Thanks for the insight on the Rick Riodan thing, guys. This really is the best writer's community ever, don't you think?
    @C: I know what you mean, I usually write in first-person, and some of my favorite books are in first person, like "Ella Enchanted." But not all of them. My all-time favorite book, (as far as novels go, not picture books,) is "A Little Princess," by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which is told in third-person omniscient. Such a great book.

    So, (and this goes for Jenna Royal's question, too,) I think it really depends on the story.

    I am having a problem with my story. It's in first person, but I have another character, not my main one, but still an important character, who will over the course of the book become my main character's friend. The only thing is, I've been wondering if he should fall in love with her or not. My main character wouldn't know about it. Can I just show him slowly warming up to her, or should I follow my gut and have him become a point-of-view character? And if I do, how would this work? Should I have it alterent, like we're talking about, or should I make a sequel? I really like the sequel idea, but I write so slowly. Can I dare to leave lose ends in the first book, knowing that I may never even write the sequel the reader would crave?
    If I go with this idea, I'd go back and read Mrs. Levine's post about characters falling in love, but I don't know what to do about this point-of-view thing.

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  7. Like anyone, I've read a lot of stories that are told in 1st-person narration, but one of the first books I read that actually switched POVs was "The View From Saturday" by E.M. Konigsburg. Each of the four main characters got a chapter of their own, and the rest was mostly narrated in 3rd person omniscient.

    I personally really like it when POVs change from character to character, because I think that adds dimension to the story. Of course it does not fit every story, and I don't normally use it for my own stories, since I haven't quite reached that level of skill....

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  8. This post came just in time, Ms. Levine, I think you may be able to read my mind...:)
    I've been trying to pick a PoV for my WIP and at first I was going to try and choose limited 3rd person. But this changed my mind.

    I only write in omniscent 3rd person. I've written a few short stories in 1st person, and one failed attempt at a novel but I always feel the most confident in omniscent. I feel like I'm not being held down by any laws. All the characters minds are open for me to explore.

    Jenna Royal- In my opinion four is not too many. If you're using 1st person narrative for each of the four I would suggest making it clear at the beginning of the chapter who is telling the story now. If you're using omniscent though, you might try just focusing a chapter specifically on one character and having the thought processes coming from that character only.
    In a project I'm writing with a friend and am just finishing up, there are eleven main characters. The first four chapters mainly center around one character, the next couple chapters on another and so on, though it is still omniscent third person. We have around 62 chapters in total so far so each character gets their turn. (I really have no idea if my manuscript is confusing or not since only myself and my co-writer have read it yet. But, for the most part, I think we've managed to keep it somewhat coherent.) So you might wanna try this approach,but I don't think four narrations will be a problem. Hope this helps! :)

    A little note on unusual PoV's, in James Patterson's young adult series, Maximum Ride he switches PoV's a lot. One of the PoV's he uses is that of one of his characters who is blind. I've never tried this but I imagine it would be extremely hard, though Patterson accomplishes it beautifully. He manages to get all the details in, just in different ways.
    I find his mastery of this PoV truly refreshing and imaginative.

    Thank you again, Ms. Levine! (Sorry for the long comment) this post was great and very helpful!

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  9. Maybeawriter--FOR BIDDLE'S SAKE is my favorite too! I loved using third-person omniscient in THE PRINCESS TALES and the first two Disney FAIRIES books, but I haven't gotten it right in my longer novels.

    Jenna Royal--Sounds fine to me, but I'd suggest you ask some people you trust and respect to take a look. They may not even have to be writers. You just want to know if you're confusing the reader.

    Charlotte--Not too many questions, but I think I should save the answers for a post, so I'm adding them to my list.

    Maybeawriter--I don't know how to advise you, except to say that writing is endlessly correctable. You can try one way and then try another.

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  10. Another good example of switching POV would be Keesha's House. For 8th grade and up.
    http://www.amazon.com/Keeshas-House-Helen-Frost/dp/0374400121/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282192563&sr=8-1

    Another neat thing about that one is not only do you get several different characters' perspectives, it's also all told using poetry (not narrative/prose). The author came and talked about her work in a poetry class I took in college, after we had read and studied the poetry-novel. Pretty interesting.

    As for everyone's trouble with POV, I find writing the/a scene out in different POVs and reading each out loud to myself helps me decide which one is strongest.

    Gail, a question for you. I like writing adventure-romance YA fiction, particularly if the romance is a forbidden love of some kind (à la Romeo and Juliet). In the past, I've always managed to work out a happy ending in my stories where the couple ends up together, because that's what I like to read. But lately, in my efforts to raise the stakes to make my stories page-turners, I keep getting stuck. I've made it so impossible for them to be together that they, well, can't be together. Kind of like in Audrey Hepburn's movie Roman Holiday (and of course R&J).

    I suppose I could simply end it that way, as that is a legitimate kind of love story, but I don't want to. How can I get these couples in my various "stuck" romances together? In other words, do you have any tricks/ideas for overcoming enormous obstacles in your stories (romantic or not)? I dislike it when an author clearly gets stuck and relies on deus ex machina. I suppose I could lower the stakes, but I'm afraid my novels won't be as interesting.

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  11. I can't believe I forgot to check for the update yesterday. Bad, bad me! :(

    I'll try to organize my thoughts in some measure of coherency, but they're all over the place, so please bear with me! (Yeah, I'm a writer. *rolls eyes*)

    Firstly - that bit about Olus being educated and Kezi not, and hence their POVs differing in vocabulary really got me. It made me realize again how important it is to focus on each detail! Not just write, write, write, but write /sensibly/. I really want to read Ever now.

    Secondly - POV. Oh, goodness, POV. It seems I can only write third person limited! I've tried shifting to third person omniscient, but that failed horribly. I CANNOT write third person omniscient. Again with the current project, I tried. Still, no luck. It just feels like the POV is jumping from character to character between paragraphs. First I'm channeling Meg - and suddenly we're looking at what Dan is thinking. Even I feel a bit uncomfortable with it! And somehow I think Meg's POV is the only important one, so it'll end up being Third person limited again. But I really, really want to write in omniscient, at least once!

    As for the POV coming naturally - tat happens to me too! I was writing something , a short piece, and I'd written maybe a hundred words already before I realised that I'd started in first POV as opposed to the usual third. I'd like to try writing a novel from first POV as well...but it's hard, because you have to make sure you don't give TOO much away. Plus, it needs to 'feel' right.

    About Rick Riordan's Red Pyramid book...waaah! I want to read it! I love his Percy Jackson series, and yes, I enjoyed the first POV in it. Actually, the POV doesn't really have any problem for me. First does sometimes feel forced, because the character is explaining his own feelings and all (I felt that with Percy Jackson), but it's great.

    About multiple-POVs...I read a book, Bella at Midnight, which had nine POVs. Some appeared continuously, whereas some appeared only once. In the reviews I read, some people said that nine was too many. Personally, though, I enjoyed it. It's a great book! It's a retelling of Cinderella, apparently, but I didn't see any similarities at all.

    I agree with maybeawriter too, Ms. Levine: I absolutely LOVE all your Princess tales, and the writing's wonderful. But I hadn't noticed before this post that you usually write in First POV...haha. I love all of those books, and if you don't mind the selfish statement, can't wait for more Ella, Two Princesses and Ever-esque books - those are my favourite kind. :)

    And I really like all of Charlotte's questions, and can't wait to see the answers!

    @Silver the Wanderer: What is your NaNoWriMo username, if you don't mind me asking? I found this blog thanks to NaNoWrimo, too, and it's thanks to Ms. Levine and her post on The Twelve Dancing Princesses that I have my plot for NaNo '10 ready! :D

    Which reminds me, Ms. Levine, of another question. (Sorry.) How do you name your characters? I've been looking for names for my princesses, but haven't been able to come up with anything that feels right. I'd like them to be named after the first twelve letters of the alphabet so it's easy to identify them ("Oh, Courtney? Begins with a C, so she's the third eldest!"). But I'd also like them to have a commone theme in their names, like flowers or gems, and that's really not working out. (Naming a princess Fluorite...nope.) So how do you do it? I suppose I _could_ name them with generic names, but...it just doesn't 'feel' write, as a writer.

    Really sorry for the long post.

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  15. Yes, it seems that after rejecting the long comment several times, it finally posted...all of them. Sorry.

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  16. @F, for naming characters, I use the internet. You can go on Google and literally type "cool character names" and you'll come up with something or other (I've done this before). Or I go on
    www.babynamesworld.com, they have a huge list, and a great "avanced search" tool so you can search by meaning or origin or whatever. (The Internet is so awesome). Anyway, when in doubt- make up your own name. I bet you could come up with something marvelous. :) Hope this helps!

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  17. I think the "Larklight" series by Phillip Reeve does a really great job with switching pov. Mmm steampunk tasty.

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  18. Hmm...I could try making some up on my own! But funnily, I always have a problem with that! I'll check out the link, because I don't have that. I;ve tried googling and checking websites, otherwise. Thanks! :)

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  19. @ F, I haven't actually done NaNoWriMo before, so I don't have an account yet. I'll probably make one once it gets closer to November, and when I do, I'll let you know the username.

    As for names, most of mine are made up. Although, I do get inspiration from the internet. www.babynames.com is a good place. There's also a neat Fantasy Name Generator at http://rinkworks.com/namegen/ (For this one, I usually mix around parts of different generated names that I like). You could also try Googling "Irish Names", "Medieval Names", "French Names", etc. if you're looking for a specific type of name.

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  20. There is a really good book, Two Girls of Gettysburg, which is told from one character's point of view until their stories separate, and then they each tell their own story. What's interesting about this book though, is that one character's story is told in regular first person POV, and the other is told in diary entries. It makes an interesting read, and the author did a great job with this.
    The Gemma Doyle trilogy is a bit like the Percy Jackson series, because they each add their own bits of sarcastic commentary, which makes the book less formal. I really like books like that.

    Ms. Levine, do you have any advice on writing sequels, prequels, or writing books set in the same world as a previous one? I know you did this with Fairest, and I was wondering how you did it and kept the same characteristics of the kingdom that you had in the first book.

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  21. @Grace: I checked out that link, and it helped loads! THANK YOU! :D

    @Silver the Wanderer: Right! You'll have a blast, it's loads of fun! I'm checking out babynames.com as well. Thanks!

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  22. I love talking about POV. In my most recent story, I used 3rd person limited, switching off in each scene from one MC to the other. Generally I do 3rd person limited. But I love 1st person because it gives so many opportunities to add voice and get in emotion. A character can be open, naive, defensive ("don't get me wrong, I'm not as stupid as that action just made me look!") or anything else, very easily.
    Something else I like: 1st person, present tense (I run, I ask, I wonder). In my mind, it makes the story feel very immediate - as if you're getting a live video feed. 1st person past tense makes me think of people relaxing on a couch somewhere, relating their past experiences to each other!

    @ Jenna Royal - the important thing, I think, is making the characters distinct and sympathetic. I read one book written that way that just didn't grab me at all because none of the characters really attracted me.

    Because I love book recommendations (we should have a thread of the blog for that, Ms. Levine!), my fav multiple-POV novel of all time was ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS by Sylvia Lousie Engdahl. The author gave each character a very distinct first-person voice, and each of them had a very different interpretation of events. I never got bored or confused.

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  23. HI, I have posted up here quite a few times, and as always I was thrilled to hear from you. But I have a question for you, I am starting a National book festival in Michigan. Where Literacy and reading in children's lives is dying out every day. We are backed by non profit groups and will have serious sponsors. We are planning on having it next year, We would love for you to come, do book signings and if how much it would cost for you to come up here.! This will be a huge event! please LorettaBradfield@gmail.com

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  24. @loretta

    If you paid a little more attention, you would have seen in Gail's bio that Tony Hirt is the one to talk to about stuff like that, not by posting it as a blog comment. Don't forget to do your homework. :)

    As for POV...

    I just finished reading Rebecca Lickiss's Never After, which uses several POV. I think there was 8, but there could have been more. She did a good job with the POV, I think, though I had a few other issues with the book. (My two biggest beefs: I could never keep straight whether it was day or night, and though the theme of the book seemed to be "be true to yourself" and sort of "girl power," all of the women were like "Oh, okay, I guess I'll marry that one," and would throw themselves at a random prince. Disappointing.)

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  25. April--I don't know if I can answer your question. I rely on lists in my notes to find solutions. You could list possible ways to overcome the obstacles, and consider seriously even the ones that seem ridiculous at first. I understand your reluctance to lower the stakes.

    F--On 8/26/09, I posted about names, so take a look. There's also a chapter in WRITING MAGIC. If you have more questions, please ask. I like the flower or gem theme idea.

    Yvonne--I'm adding your question to my list.

    Loretta--I sent your question to my publicist at HarperCollins. Thanks for the invitation!

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  26. Ms. Levine, thank you! :) I'll look up the post.

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  27. Thank you for answering my question!!!!=D

    Usually I prefer books written in 3rd person limited, or some unusual pov, like Wuthering Heights, the story being told through Nelly, who witnesses everything, but is a bit of an unreliable narrator.
    I also absolutely love the way the Sherlock Holmes mysteries are written. Dr Watson hears everything watches Holmes do his stuff on the mystery. Its just adds the feel of suspense and awe. I've tried however, and failed to achieve that.

    The new prompts have made me feel quite inadequate as a writer lol. They're definitely harder than the others I've tried, but I'd love to crack the first few, and I"m very intrigued about how several viewpoints are supposed to help fit the pieces of a story.

    So I'm off to read the recommendations on books with different pov's, I should do the research first. Though, a re-reading on Ever (its on my list=D) would certainly be a thoroughly enjoyable homework.=D I've also located Mice and Men at my local library, can't wait to get hunt it down.=)The title is great.

    A recommendation from my part is an aussie novel called Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair by Steven Herrick. Its written in verse form, from the pov of the protagonist's as well as the people related to him. I reckon the reason it worked well was because of the engaging and simplistic style.

    @F- Hi 5!!! I'm still working on my version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses too, thanks to Mrs Levine's post.=D I guess I"m a little late in suggesting with the names, but I used Babyworld.com and its an amazing website. The princesses' names are definitely a load of trouble, but I realised if you don't get too attached to a name and let the plot unravel, the names will come naturally instead. Hope that made sense.
    I actually started out with alphabetical order, but it felt conspicous, or maybe just too neat, so I tried greek and celtic gods, and they evolved from there.=) I hope you have fun with your 12 names.:)

    I think I shall try NaNoWriMo this year, it sounds so exciting, but are you allowed to have a pre planned plot? The rules, from what I recall, did mention not have a draft of an old story for the event.

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  28. @Mya: Awesome! *Hi-5s back* I've almost decided on the names as well, all thanks to the link provided up there! I'm just wondering whether to choose Celsia or Crysanthe. I'm more attached to the latter, but asking people over at the NaNoWriMo forums, I've been pointed to the former.

    As for the rules of NaNoWriMo - you can have a pre-planned plot. You can outline, in detail if you so wish. Create character profiles, research, anything at all. Only, the actual STORY should be written in November. That's all! :) You can even re-write an old story, provided you don't copy-paste the old words (or to some, don't count them in your final total). However, in the end, it all depends on you, since there are no prizes or anything. What do YOU count as more productive, you can do! :D

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  29. This post was really good. I find really interesting to read books with switching viewpoints. I've never tried it -- sounds hard...

    One thing I tend to find myself doing is making my main character extremely intuitive -- sometimes I overdo it, but in one of my stories it's an intentional plot device

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  30. @ F Wow... I did not know you could rewrite an old story for NanoWriMo, thanks, good to know.

    I flaked out on doing it last year because I didn't think I could come up with a new story idea in time...whoops. Well I have a plot for this year and I'm definately going to try.

    I haven't made an account yet but when the time comes closer I will and I'll post my username on here for anyone who wants to know. Thanks for posting the rules, F, I didn't know half that stuff. (I feel like such a newbie, this year will be my first! :) )

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  31. @ Grace: I just signed up for NaNoWriMo, pretty excited. I'm definitely a newbie too, so don't worry.=) I certainly hadn't heard of it till I read this blog.

    @F: Thanks for explaining.=) Now I feel more confident with the thought of writing, if you're allowed to plan and everything. You know, I actually like Crysanthe better, though I understand why people prefer Celsie.

    Oh Mrs Levine, I just remembered picking up black beauty 2 years ago, the scholastic version, and it was you who wrote the introduction! Its got to be one of my fav intros, it was fun "thinking horse" everywhere. I loved the story, I loved the movie too, it was terribly sad.

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  32. Such great tips on giving distinction to the voices when you switch point of view - the tips would work for dialogue as well.

    I find it easier to write in 1st person, but I usually (not always, such as ELLA ENCHANTED) prefer books in third person, so I like writing in that, even though I have to work harder at it. Hopefully that means I put more thought into it and get something better in the end!

    @F - I saw a tip once that if you want to make up names that if you combine parts of known names they sound better to our trained ear. Also, if you want to go with a theme, like gems or such, you could try switching to names in different languages if that helps round out the list. I do think that the alphabetical order is a good idea for helping readers keep the sisters straight. In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (a musical) the brothers had names from the bible, but poor Frank, his full name was Frankincense. :)

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  33. @Erin, I love that movie. <3

    @Gail, thanks for the advice. :)

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  34. @ April - I guess I can admit to you then that at one point my little sister and I pretty much had all the dialogue and songs of that movie memorized. :) My excuse would be that VCRs were new and we only had two tv channels at the time, and that was only if the weather was good.

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