Thanks for the pointers. Don't know about changing my style, though. My style is what makes my writing unique. (hopefully)
Thanks for the pointers. Don't know about changing my style, though. My style is what makes my writing unique. (hopefully)
Keep your voice. But I noticed a few times where the words seemed kind of...out of order. That's what I meant by style.
Leaving aside whether pre-teen vampire girl stories are marketable or interesting to anyone here who's grown accustomed to shaving or reading beyond his station, I'm thinking what you've got here simply suffers from lacking a sense of purpose and a compelling viewpoint.
Take out all the vampire stuff. You wrote that what you envision is a girl coming of age story, so try leaving out the vampire stuff. You can't use that for building tension and creating character. Right? If it's window dressing, the pull of the story needs to work without fangs.
I see the overarching problem here as a lack of a compelling lens to view the story from. You switch back and forth between these two girls' POVs. You can do that effectively if you've got a strong narrator's voice to pull from one to another. But you don't have that. Who is telling the story? Where are the reader's clues about what's important?
You've got a strong tension shift between the opening and the ending, the essential business of a decent scene. The girls are frivolous, dressed up princesses, pulling a prank at the opening. At the end, they discover little boys are missing. The tension shift, based on these facts, is high -- frivolity preceding the discovery of a tragedy. Great. But I had to think about the tension shift. You didn't, as the writer/narrator, bring me along. I read this and feel that the author might just have the naughty boys hiding in the closet. They'll pop out. The princesses will be scared then laugh. Then maybe they'd decide to cut each other's hair. Maybe the boys will decide to play video games. It's all just strung together bits -- unless you bring a meaning to the bits of action. There just isn't any here. I don't know what I'm supposed to be thinking/feeling. You've failed to feed me the story. Does that make sense? The actual shift in tension is in the section, but the narrator doesn't even seem to know it. You're not guiding the reader.
Kinda feels like a writer more accustomed to watching movies, where the narrator's voice is accomplished in shifting camera angles and distances. In prose, the narrator has to shift the angles and distance with words for the reader. I don't think you're getting this.
Try stripping out the vampire stuff, which may be a crutch, because you have to make the characters' actions have meaning for the reader. If it ain't interesting without fangs, it's really not interesting with fangs. Right?
Try sticking with one character's POV and tell the scene inward out. Try creating a narrator who knows both girls and what's about to be discovered and tell the scene outward in. Try a bunch of stuff that gives a purpose and angle and changing distance to it all and see what works. The lack of perspective here doesn't work. At least for me.
I don't actually see the shift in POV--can you be specific. The story is strictly from Lina's POV. Sharlene does have dialogue, but I don't see the shift. As far as building tension...and moving the story, I think I accomplished this, seeing as that this is only the first page and a half. Yes, the girls do go back to the room, get pranked by the brothers etc., which is where the MC learns how to use matches. She is hiding the fact that she cannot see in the dark (scene in bedroom) takes the matches and will use in furture. I cannot take the Vampire out of the story, because I don't know if this came through with just the first page, but MC is not perfect. As a matter of fact, I have titled it, Imperfect Vampire. Her coming of age is that in her community, where Vampires are perfect (hense, my desc of Sharlene and her mother). She will move through the story tripping, fumbling, having night blindness etc., and with that, boy trouble, too. Like teenagers, she is dealing with her differences, and becoming her own person (whom her parents don't understand).
It would help me greatly if you could give me a specific example of POV switch. I would really appreciate it. Thanks
You have not written this strictly from Lina's POV. It's largely from an omniscient narrator lacking in purpose.
As dusk settled on the southern territory and Vampire community of New Transylvania, two naughty little Vampires checked off one more “to do” item from their book, Every Teens Dream Sleepover. But, the fun hadn’t even begun…yet.
That's not from Lina. That's an omniscient sort of narrator, looking at two girls.
“Is the water still warm?” Lina asked, tiptoeing through the living room in her required sleepover attire: a blue shimmering Cinderella costume.
Still not in Lina's POV. W're just observing her.
“Do you really think this’ll make them wet the bed?” Sharlene shook with pent-up laughter, sloshing water down the front of her Snow White costume. “I can’t wait to see that.” Yes, the girls were over the entire princess drama, but Sharlene’s mother absolutely refused to let them raid her closet. Disney princesses were all they had left.
Largely omniscient, but the first character we have an interior view of is Sharlene. We know something that's pent up, not observed, in her. So we have the first hint that Sharleen's POV will come to dominate the scene.
“Sure it will. That’s what my book says, anyway. And, I’ve always wanted to try this on someone, or two someones,” Lina giggled.
“Ready?” The door creaked as Lina opened it. The two almost-teens (some would call them ‘tweens,’ but they hated that word) froze where they stood. With their exceptional hearing, it could be possible that the sleeping twins would hear them sneaking into the room. Especially, since nighttime was moments away and they would be fully rested. The perfect time to prank them.
Still an omniscient narrator who knows what both girls are thinking
Let the fun begin, Lina thought as she swung the door wide, crossing her fingers that it wouldn’t creak anymore. Relieved at the silence of her stealth move, she rolled her eyes at Sharlene and motioned her to the other side of the room. “You take that one,” she said in the softest of whispers.
Now the narrator has swung into Lina's private thoughts. Lina POV isn't narrating, it's still a narrator telling us what Lina thought.
Having taken a few steps inside, Lina realized she couldn’t see; the room was pitch-black. She looked back longingly toward the door searching for any shred of light with which to see by.
Now we've moved into Lina's POV, but we're not inside Lina's mind; we're still inside a narrator inside Lina.
“What are you doing?” hissed Sharlene, evidently not caring if she spoiled their fun.
This is wiggly. We have insight into Sharlene's mind, but the weak "evidently" comes from no source. We don't know if this is Lina's thought or the narrator unsure of itself.
Turning quickly away and ignoring her friend, determined to get this prank underway, Lina stepped hastily toward one twin’s coffin. She was unsure if this was Derek or Dirk. Either way, this was going to be sweet. Her scheming and plotting coming down to this final sleepover act. Only, too bad she couldn’t see where she was going. One of the brothers left a chair out in the middle of the floor. “Ugh!” She took it in the shins, tumbling headfirst, water flying everywhere.
Lina's thoughts here, but still translated through a narrator or observer.
“Oh, Lina?” Sharlene ran over. “Are you okay?”
Back to narrator's POV. Not Lina's.
Lina was sprawled awkwardly over the floor, rocking herself and holding her shin, trying to block out the sharp pain. Her garishly painted face—sleepover requirement number three—smeared down her cheeks. “I...hurt…my…leg,” she moaned halfway between laughing and crying. “Gawd, I didn’t—ah, man—see that chair.”
More narrator's POV.
“How could you not see it?” Sharlene asked confused, with a duh expression on her face. Her gown made a swooshing sound as she crumpled to the floor next to her. “You should have eagle vision.”
Now we're moved into Sharlene's POV because we have information about her interior state of mind, confusion. What POV notes the swooshing gown? Does a crumbled Lina note such a thing? Does a fearful Sharlene? If either of them does why? This sort of information comes from neither of their current states. Who is observing and communicating this detail?
“Uhh, I don’t know. Guess I was just, uh, focused on…” Something dawned on her. “Hey? Where are your brothers?”
This is NOT in Lina's POV. It gives more direct insight into Lina, but not by much. It's from a narrator's POV. But that narrator seems confused about her role and isn't guiding the reader. It's no wonder, if you thought this passage we strictly from Lena's POV. You've got to take command of your lens. If the point of this scene is to hint that your Lina's got something wrong with her eyes, it did not work. You misdirected the tension.
Um, I never recommended you take vampires out of the story. I recommended you strip that business out as you consider scenes so you can focus on what you wrote was the thrust of the story -- a girl coming of age.
really read what C K has written. A lot of time was taken here and the information is invaluable.
if the wine is sour – throw it out
I see what you are saying. I also misunderstood when you said to strip the vampire stuff. I tried my first novel from first person, which everyone tells me is extremely difficult to pull off. So i switched to 2nd? person--you call it narrator. Perhaps I am not pulling this off correctly. I picked up one of my books, this is what I found.
L. J. Smith's, Dark Visions: exerpt for example only
Kait could feel her hands trembling in the cool grasp of the blond woman's fingers. She swallowed, unable to look away from those aquamarine eyes. Doesn't that switch between narrator and K's POV?
"Kaitlyn, I am not here to hurt you......[a woman is talking]
She stopped and Kaitlyn heard the whir of a copier in the outer office. Narrator again?
[Skip a paragraph]
Kaitlyn felt really dizzy. Narrator again.
"I can't," Kaitlyn said weakly.
Joyce and the principal both looked at her, startled. Their point of view?
[Another paragraph down.]
Didn't she? Only so much that she sometimes felt like a bird beating its wings against glass. [Kaitlyn's POV]
Now, I profess that I am not a writing expert. But, doesn't that bit of writing do exactly what i was doing? I thought it did, perhaps i'm wrong. Because, most of the books I read are written that way. Some first person, but it gets confusing for the reader and can be weird to read.
Thank you, for taking the extra time with this. I learn new things everyday.
It is confusing and one of those areas where you never stop discovering ways to play with how the reader experiences a scene. The passage you copied is in K's POV, but it's not real tight with K. We're certainly with K but we're not experiencing the world as her. I don't know the correct lingo for these distinctions so let me just use one of these lines as an example.
Kaitlyn felt really dizzy. Here we're in K's POV but not real tight. We're observing her feeling dizzy.
The office spun. Here we're tight to K's POV. We're observing the world from within her.
Looks like the writer sticks with a loose K POV here, although this bit, Didn't she? Only so much that she sometimes felt like a bird beating its wings against glass, feels like it's moving in tighter. .Agree that the "startled" bit is a possible bobble in POV. K could certainly observe a started quality to the others' looks but the writer didn't work to make that obvious. Not a bobble that stands out much though.
Lots of different POV and narrator options work. The important thing is to use the best one for the job and move between them with a purpose. It really helps me to think of a camera lens. So you know those shots where the camera shows a path through the woods and camera's moving along the path bouncing and all we can hear is labored breath? The camera is simulating an experience of viewing the world from the character's eyes. That's a really tight POV. We don't see the character whatsoever. We are the character. The office spun. We could do the same shot, but put another character running on the path in front of us. Now we are a character, but we're watching another character. Or the camera could be a little above a character running on the path. So we 're closely observing the character running, but we're outside the character. Goodness, realizing I'm going on and it's doubtful this makes sense.
Probably the best thing is to just take a few scenes of your own work or someone else's and play with changing the POV or the tightness of the POV. See what techniques do the trick and how the feel of the scene changes. Most books are pretty flat with POV, sticking with one lens and maybe a little zoom now and again. But some my favorites change POV a lot, so the reading experience varies. Anyway, one of my favorite writing techniques to play with. Have fun with it.
Thanks, this truly helps. I'll give it a try. I like the camera angle analogy. It helps put all this into perspective.
If everyone you've asked has told you it's hard to pull off first person narration, you've been asking the wrong people. There are hundreds of thousands of novels out there in first person, and thousands of them are successful; I could probably list dozens of famous books written that way if I were of a mind to, without even trying very hard. For a start, all of the Nero Wolfe novels by Rex Stout are narrated in first person by Wolfe's assistant, Archie Goodwin, as is, of course, Moby Dick. I assure you, Avonne, that first-person is no harder than any other viewpoint and, for some people, it's much easier.