Tag Archives: point of view

Why First Person? #newbook

Hi, gang. It’s time for another promo for my newest book, “Once Upon a Time in the Swamp.” I’m trying to give everyone some behind the scenes looks at the creation of the story. I think those make better posts than the old cover and blurb only. It also gains me a few comments and I love interacting with you guys. Today’s topic is first person point of view.

One of the first things an author has to decide is how to present the story to readers. I’ve used about every method you can imagine, even second person for some of the entries in “The Enhanced League.” I always really liked first person, but it has a couple of annoying things we all have to accept. Writing this way leads to a lot of repetition of the words “I, me, my, mine, etc.” Once you wrap your mind around that, the story just flows.

This is Mari’s story, and she spends a lot of her time completely alone. That was the deciding factor for me. First person allows me to get inside her head and stay there. It isn’t the only option, I could have gone for third person with a lot of internal dialog and it might have worked. I like the first person POV and it’s not the first time I’ve used it.

Writing this way allows Mari to relay her story directly to the reader. It’s a little more intimate. I’m not big on excerpts, but here is an example I liked from the story. For context, Mari has just been injured and is taking it out on her ox.


“You son-of-a-bitch! What were you thinking? I saw it, too. It was a bobcat. A bobcat! What? Was he going to eat you? You take a bigger shit than that.” I went around the stopper trees to yell at him some more.

He let out the most mournful bawl I’d ever heard an animal make. That’s when it hit me. Dirt was what’s known as the “off” ox. Sunshine decided when to eat, roll in the grass, when to go to water, and when to be frightened. I wasn’t the only one who’d lost everything that day.

He stared at me down the length of his nose with his eyes flashing white. I tentatively ducked under those horns, then hugged him around the neck. “It’s okay, amigo,” I whispered. “We’ll have to look out for each other. I’m here for you now.”

He leaned into me and nearly crushed me between his horn and shoulder. When I managed to slip out, I saw blood for the first time.


I enjoyed Mari’s little epiphany with the oxen. He lost his entire family, too. Readers get to be in the moment a bit more with this point of view. Having Mari talk to a dumb animal feels completely natural, and I talk to animals just like she does.

If you’ve been tempted to check this story out, I’ll put all the important information down below. I’d appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word. Social media posts, reblogs, word of mouth, even just a mention on your own sites.

Blurb: Mari and her husband opted for a simple life as farmers. It’s been decades since the world tore itself apart, pitting neighbor against neighbor and family against each other. They were happy in this re-emerging world, until disaster struck.

Mari sets out on a solo quest to avenge the deaths of her family and loss of everything she holds dear. She’s ill equipped for the task, but seems to have time on her hands. Time alone in the wilderness to deal with her personal demons along the way.

She is helped by a few sympathetic elders and a couple of animal companions with lessons Mari can use if she pays attention. Can Mari find justice for her family?

Set in a post apocalyptic, Gulf Coast world, this is a story for fans of the old Spaghetti Westerns.

Get your copy right here https://mybook.to/OnceUponTimeSwamp


Filed under Writing

How about some free days?

Once upon a time, I wrote this book called The Enhanced League. It’s my take on a baseball league where performance enhancing drugs are not banned. It’s a little bit science fiction, and a bit human drama.

I wrote it as a collection of short stories and micros. My personal growth plan was to have these stories all set in the same environment, and to tell an overarching story from cover to cover.

It seems like I’m always trying something new, and this book has a few pieces that I called Anthems. These are short bits in second person point of view. They were well received by the reviewers, so I wrote a new one for this post. (Personal theory: second person is best in small segments.)

I thought it deserved a bit of music, and video clips seem to be the simple way to add that in WordPress. This may be my favorite movie scene of all time.

Spring is in the Air

It’s been a long winter. The series ended in spectacular fashion, but that was back in November. Sure, you tried to get into football, maybe checked out the Winter Olympics, but it wasn’t the same.

You listened to the Hot Stove reports on the radio. There were some good free agents this year, and you earmarked a couple for your team. You knew they were long shots, but like all baseball fans, you live on hope and faith.

This year was different. Teams refused to pony up those ridiculous contracts like in the past. Guess they finally figured out super-stars aren’t so super, seven years into a contract for mega-millions.

Passive fans always want the team to spend money and buy all the free agents, but you know better. This is because the business side is every bit as interesting as the game on the field. There’s only so much money, and you have to keep an eye on the future. It’s hard to extend the contract of your ace pitcher next year when you spent it all on some hotshot this year.

When it all shook out, your team settled for an import pitcher from Japan, and a few minor league guys that might come up late this year. For the most part, you’re fielding the same team.

That isn’t bad in some ways. They made a run and got into the playoffs. They might have done better if it weren’t for the injuries. All you need is just a bit of luck and… we’re back to hope once more. Maybe those minor league guys can cover the spots if an injured player has to take some time off. There’s always hope.

You watched the trucks pulling in to the stadium. You imagined they delivered sports apparel and the newest bobble-head dolls of the popular players. It’s too early for hotdogs and other perishables. Still, it’s getting close.

The grass is green, not like it will be in May or June, but all the dead thatch is gone. You watched them testing the lights over the stadium, and Spring Training is underway five states away.

Kids always put a lot of faith in Spring games. You know they don’t mean a thing, and you’re just hoping to get through without somebody getting hurt. Players get their work in and get ready for the big show, that’s what it’s all about.

The radio guys are looking for stories, so they come up with things for you to worry about. So-and-so seems to have lost some velocity on his fastball, or such-and-such seems to be swinging and missing more. You know they’re trying things out in Spring Training, and working up to their full skill set. They’ll be ready, have a little faith.

Hope and faith, they fuel the baseball fan’s world. It’s almost time to take the field and welcome summer in the best way possible. Grab your cap, ice the beer, turn on the game, and let’s watch some baseball.


Those who read Enhanced League seemed to like it. It never seemed to get enough readers to make a splash. Now here we are at the end of Spring Training, and the beginning of the Major League Baseball season. What better time to trot it back out and do a small push.

Today through Saturday I’m holding free days for The Enhanced League. I’d appreciate it if you’d pick up a copy, maybe add it on Goodreads. In it’s debut, I had Lisa making the rounds. Here is the poster that came out the best from her promotional efforts.

Lisa Burton

I added it, because images draw attention, but also for some of you to use. I’m not going to spend a lot of money on a free promotion. If you want to reblog this one, I’d be grateful. Some of you may prefer to assemble your own post. You can clip the Anthem, cover, umpire Lisa, however much or little you want. And thanks for considering The Enhanced League.


Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes, Writing

Point of view, by SM Spencer

As a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, I get opportunities to host some amazing authors. SM Spencer is the beneficiary of a “Spotlight Week.” As such she will be popping up all over Blogland to promote her wares and introduce herself.

She's here today to tell us how she chooses a point of view.


A lot has been written about the various POV options, as well as the pros and cons of each. I’ve Googled the topic, read articles and a multitude of chapters in editing books and even so I find some of the discussions can get rather confusing. So, how do I go about choosing between the various POV options? Well, let me start with a simple definition and then I’ll tell you how I do it.

Works of fiction are narrated by a person (or sometimes an animal) that is telling the story. Point of view (“POV”) is, put simply, the perspective from which that narrator speaks.

So, who is the narrator of any given story? Is it a single character from within the story, or is the story told by more than one character? Or is the narrator not part of the story at all? Is the story to be told by an omniscient being with knowledge and understanding of all the characters? The decision as to who the narrator is determines whether there is a single viewpoint or a dual, multiple or omniscient viewpoint. The type of narrator can be first person (“I”) or third person (“he” or “she”).

So, armed with a definition, how did I choose? I put on my reader hat and thoughtabout what books I’ve really enjoyed as a reader, and then I went back and had a look at how those books were written.

Take the Janet Evanovich books for example. Stephanie Plum is a sassy bounty hunter who I found it incredibly likeable. These books are written in first person single viewpoint.

Another style of first person, first person present, is gaining popularity and can be found in books such as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. I’ve read a few books written in this fashion, and while I find that the writing can seem somewhat abrupt initially, if the story is good enough I do settle into the style. However I suspect it must take a great deal of concentration to consistently write in this style without slipping up.

If you don’t want to write in first person, as in “I”, then there is third person. Narrated by “he” or “she” and considerable use of the character’s name, third person can have single, dual or multiple viewpoints. Third person dual viewpoint is often used for contemporary romance books as it allows for a much greater development of the hero. This provides greater insight into the feelings and motivations of both characters, not just the female protagonist.

Third person multiple viewpoints is the technique used in many books, but a warning to authors: make sure the changes are clearly identified by spacing, and use of the characters names in the course of the narration.

So, having said all that, how do I choose the POV for a particular story?

I answer the following questions. Is it best for the story to unfold through the eyes of one main character, knowing that the reader will only know what this main character knows? Or will the story work better if told from two or more viewpoints? Then I decide whether I would prefer to write in first person, or third person. Again, going back over books I’ve read and liked helped with both decisions.

Another key factor for me in determining the POV to use is to keep the reader’s best interests in mind. It is crucial that the reader never be in doubt as to who is telling the story.

In writing the Absent Shadows trilogy I chose a single point of view, being that of the main character, Lili. This was her story, told from her perspective entirely. As many of the other characters in the story were not human, I felt it best for the reader to see them as Lili saw them rather than to delve too deeply into their thoughts, desires and motivations.

However I am employing other POV’s with my current works in progress. The contemporary romance is written in third person dual viewpoint. Another, which I am still struggling to categorise, is currently being written in third person with multiple viewpoints.

My advice to authors would be to read articles and books to expand your knowledge but above all, keep it simple, and trust your instincts.

S M Spencer’s first series is called Absent Shadows Trilogy. To find out more about the series, and obtain free samples of each of the books, visit Amazon:


You can also follow her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SMSpencer.writer for advice about upcoming promotions as well as updates on the books she’s currently working on.


Filed under Writing

What I wanted out of this story

Hey gang, I'm over at Emily Martens' blog today. The topic is personal goals as an author.

The Frighteningly Fun Halloween Tour
What I wanted out of this story
I've blogged many times about how I set challenges for myself with each novel. These won't be evident to the reader, but they help me grow as an author. At various times, the challenge is as simple as writing a buddy story, or using fairy tale structure… Read more over at Emily's place.



Filed under Writing

Happy Critique Group

Everyone’s submissions were really good tonight. On a couple of them, I had to look pretty deep to find anything to offer. Everyone in the group felt the same way. This is unusual for our group.

I got some really nice comments on Will ‘O the Wisp. Maybe I should have used first person a long time ago. Maybe I should stick with it.

One fellow had a hard time critiquing, because he just wanted to read it. Several others want the next chapter. This is a great sign for the book.

I had a word error, and some questionable modifiers. I’m not that good, and it’s nice to have other eyes look at it. All my repairs are going to be pretty easy this month.

To me this is an example of story trumping writing. Will ‘O the Wisp is a good story. I can work on the rest.


Filed under Writing

Playing With All the Toys

As a writer, I like to play with all the toys. This might make me a jack of all trades and master of none, but I hope not. This is one of the reasons I don’t limit myself to a specific genre, but include anything with something unusual in it.

Using my own stories as an example here’s what I mean:

  • Wild Concept = I wanted to write a non human main character.
  • Panama = I wanted to write a buddy story.
  • Arson = I really wanted to write a reverse character arc. The hero falls and has to rebuild.
  • The Cock of the South = I love a good fantasy. Maybe I should write one.
  • Will ‘O the Wisp = I wanted to try writing in first person.

They break down like this: two science fiction stories, two paranormal stories, and one fantasy. It’s a pretty even split between male and female main characters. The idea rattling around my skull right now is kind of a paranormal science fantasy – go figure.

I keep looking at other toys in the toy box. I see an epistolary style of writing in there, but don’t quite know how to use it. There’s an omnipotent viewpoint still in its original wrapper.

Are any of the other writers out there like this? Am I insane for wanting to play with all the toys? (Let’s limit the answers to this one reason why I’m insane.)

In other news:

This is the obligatory self promotion spot. If anyone still wants a copy of Wild Concept for free, time is trickling away. I’ve given away a lot of copies, and I’m kind of surprised. It’s too early to assess what upside, if any, this promotion has produced. I’ll blog about it when it’s over.


Filed under Writing

Friday Goings On

I skipped my normal Wednesday post. I’m still ahead of my master plan, but I just wasn’t feeling it on Wednesday. I told everyone I write in fits and starts. Well, there you have it. Work was the shits this week, and I’ve been tired. Something had to give, and it was the Wednesday post.

I went to the Boise Co-op last night looking for some new tea. I never found exactly what I wanted, but still wound up with three. I wanted a loose leaf green, because I’ve never found a green I really like. I figured a quality tea might make a difference. It did.

I wanted a gunpowder tea, but all they had was in tea bags. I wound up with a jasmine pearl tea. I don’t like perfumed stuff, but it’s really good. I like the way the pearls unfurl in the cup. I also like the idea that I can get three cups by just adding fresh water to the leaves.

I couldn’t find a loose Russian Caravan, so I got a lapsang souchong. It will be a little more potent, but I’ve had it before. It’s the smoky component in Russian Caravan in un blended form. I also took a flyer on an Indian black tea, but haven’t opened it yet.

This morning I read for a couple hours. I’m still working on the paranormal six pack I downloaded. This one’s about a haunted hotel. I’m enjoying it, and I’m interested in the writing style. It isn’t quite omniscient point of view, but close. There are lots of characters, and each chapter is a different group. This is as it should be, separating people is standard in a horror/paranormal story.

Each chapter begins with a bunch of telling. Sometimes it’s two or more pages. I’m told what someone feels, why they feel that way, and updated as to what happened while I was reading about a different group. By the end of each chapter I’m involved in conversations and events. I like it, and I’m not overwhelmed by too much telling.

It’s interesting that one of the earlier books involved too much telling for my taste. This book has even more telling, and I like it. I’m afraid it all comes down to the writer’s talent. I just don’t know what I can do with my new revelation. I’m in deep thought about it.

I just printed all the stuff for critique group. I need to work it all up by Wednesday, but I’m about to have company for the weekend. I can probably do it all Sunday afternoon.

I also started a new living document for paranormal stories. I see all this cool stuff in archeology news, or something on DeviantArt inspires me, and I lose track of it eventually. I titled my document Paranormal Cheats, and used headers like ghosts, the fae, witches, etc. Now when I see something, I have a place to drop a quick note. I also learned that my knowledge of Chinese magic is sorely lacking. At least I have a header for it now.

I’m in talks with a cover artist, and watching my email like a hawk for the next step. I hope to get Panama loaded on Amazon in a couple of weeks.


Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

Critique Group

Today was my monthly critique group. I always look forward to these sessions, because I learn so much. It isn’t just what they have to say about my submission. What gets said about other submissions is sometimes just as meaningful.

It’s always amazing how multiple people see the same issues. This is when you really want to pay attention. Sometimes when one person mentions something it can be taken with a grain of salt. When two or three say the same thing, it matters.

For me, it sounds like I have a couple rough transitions to smooth out. I can work on that over the weekend.

I’m torn over what to submit next month. One of the guys read my entire novel. I don’t want to make him critique it 3000 words at a time after he already read it. I really needed the 1000 foot flyover by someone who read the whole thing, and his comments made me feel really good about it.

I’ll probably put The Cock of the South away for a couple months. I need to edit two other tales and get them ready for Amazon. That means my critique group will be the first ones to see bits of Will ‘O the Wisp.

I’m kind of nervous, because I haven’t written much from a first person point of view. I like to play with all the tools in the box, and this is one I really want to try out. At least I can trust them to tell me where I’m not quite getting it right. There’s always a special concern about a first chapter too. Will they like Patty, will there be enough setting, enough stress and strife?

I know there’s only one way to find out. They’re a great bunch of guys, and I know they’ll set me straight if I blew it.

Does anyone else get nervous about sending something new into the world for the first time? I’m pretty sure I’m not unique here.


Filed under Writing

Writing stuff

Lisa and I were hard at work out at the cabin. She brought me a pot of coffee, and acted out some scenes for me.

“No, you need a scowl here. My programming says a line like that deserves a scowl,” she said.

“That’s great. I’ll write one in, but I’ll probably change it during edits. This is first draft stuff, and getting the words down is the important thing.”

“Why didn’t you get your new character out here for this?”

“She has a report to work on. You never went to school, so you don’t understand.”

“Uploading data is much more efficient. I’m lucky to be a robot. Are you sold on her name, you could always change it?”

“When I was a kid–

“Here we go.”

“When I was a kid, every girl in school was Mary or Susan. I ran with a crowd named Jeff, Jeff, and Jeff. John, John, and John, and Greg and Greg. I felt fortunate to be Craig. I looked up common names for this era and every girl was either Mary or Susan. I chose the third most popular and made her Patty. I love names like Tanith or Gwynith. This character has a long ways to go, and I want her to come from a pretty vanilla background. Nothing too special.”

“Neat trick,” Lorelei said.

I snapped around and there she was, my Muse.

Lorelei grabbed a champaign flute from the cabinet, and a bottle from the refrigerator. She handed the bottle to Lisa and said, “Open this dear.”

I whispered to Lisa, “I didn’t know we had that.”

“We didn’t. Lorelei kind of does what she wants.” She opened the bottle and filled Lorelei’s flute.

I offered my coffee cup and she filled it too. Kind of classless, but that’s me.

Lorelei looked at my iPad and said, “Looks like a good start. How many words today?”

“Just over seventeen hundred. They aren’t all good words, but that’s what rewrites are for. You can’t fix something that doesn’t exist.”

“I agree. Is that first person point of view I see there?”

“I’ve never done it before, so I decided to try. Writing isn’t all about commercial success. I want to try new things, and push myself. I may rewrite the whole thing in third person, but the outline pretty much sticks with Patty the whole way.”

“That’s wonderful. I really like the way you’re progressing.”

Lisa stepped between us and said, “Yeah, we’re all pretty proud of him.”

“Oh Lisa,” Lorelei said, “You were a wonderful character. He probably should write your sequel, but I agree with him about waiting to see if your story sells.”

“Yeah Lisa, we aren’t trying to stack the deck against you here,” I said.

“I’d prefer a stacked deck. You taught me how to count cards, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Anyway, Patty’s story is coming along pretty well. I can’t wait to get to the paranormal stuff. That’s the part I really like.”

“Don’t rush it. It looks like the main struggle is with her handicap and her mother. The paranormal stuff is almost a side issue,” Lorelei said.

“Um, yeah–

“I love it!”

“You do? I mean it wouldn’t be me if some weird shit didn’t happen, but the handicap is the main point.”

“What are you calling it?” Lorelei asked.

“Will ‘O the Wisp.”

“That’s wonderful, and sounds like something you’d write.” Lorelei kissed me on the cheek.

Lisa smacked my other cheek, stood up straight, and put one hand on her hip.

“Now ladies, let’s all play nice.” I held my cup up and said, “Here’s to the first 1700 words, maybe there’ll be more tomorrow. I swear, what would you two do if I ever tried that epistolary style I’ve been dying to try?”

Lorelei sat on the corner of my desk and got all soft eyed. I could tell I’d struck a chord with her. Lisa copied her actions. She crossed her tattooed leg over the top of the other one to get my attention.

I gestured with my cup once more, and made a forced grin. Lorelei clinked it, and Lisa tapped it with a Dixie cup I never saw her fill.

“To the first 1700 words,” Lorelei said.

“Seventeen hundred,” Lisa and I said in unison.

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Filed under Muse, Uncategorized, Writing