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  1. #11
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    If that's all I can write about his "voice", I don't know if I'll be able to write the story!
    You've just defined the problem. You're thinking in terms of a box called story, as a whole, and so, are trying to acquaint the reader with all the aspects of what's in the box. But the reader comes to you for an emotional experience, not data. They want to borrow your imagination to live more interesting daydreams than they can without your help, not know what's going on in the room in the way they would were they reading a report.

    You live your life perfectly well without knowing what's going on in the other person's mind. You use their expression, behavior, and their response to yours as your guide, as they do yours.

    If your dragon is intelligent and verbal, he is going to face the problem of communicating with someone who cannot talk with him via words. If he understands the language of the people he will already know how to get around that problem and will implement it. If not, he'il have to figure it out, as will the people. So if you tell the story from either side, as the character sees it, the act of establishing communication is the story to them. So pick the one who has the biggest emotional stake in the action and tell it from their viewpoint. The object is to present the reader with moment-to-moment-reading pleasure, not a course in what makes up that particular story.

    You also have to take into account all the implications. If dragons and people have interacted before there will be stories that both have heard, and which will influence their perceptions of the action in progress. If not, there had better be a good reason that your reader will buy into, as to why not.

    You're thinking in terms of the idea, the plot being the important thing. It's not. Think in terms of what Sol Stein observed: “A novel is like a car—it won’t go anywhere until you turn on the engine. The “engine” of both fiction and nonfiction is the point at which the reader makes the decision not to put the book down. The engine should start in the first three pages, the closer to the top of page one the better.”

    Unless you start up that engine, and feed it fuel on every page, the reader won't feel they have to keep turning pages. And so they won't. Plot matters, of course, but first, comes writing well enough that your reader simply has to know what comes next. Keep doing that till they hit the last page and you have a happy reader, no matter the plot.

    Once you have a better understanding of of the structure and needs of telling a story on the page the job will get as lot easier, because your options will multiply, as you know the answers to questions you wouldn't think to ask. It doesn't get easier, because writing is a journey, not a destination. But you do become confused on a higher level—which is the best we can hope for.

    I do have to comment that it doesn't matter if they know the dragon's language and vice versa. It should be obvious to both sides that the other is trying to talk by their actions. And that, in and of itself, will direct their mental processes and actions.



  2. #12
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    Rogue Mutt: That's a really great suggestion! I'll start looking for the right books right away.

    Jay Greenstein: I will keep in mind what you said about the emotional aspect of reading, and I will use that knowledge to compare my enjoyment of the books I'll be reading for Rogue Mutt's suggestion. The more information I'm armed with, the better!

    "So pick the one who has the biggest emotional stake in the action and tell it from their viewpoint." Are you saying I should, for example, choose Sarah's POV for the entire book if she has the greatest emotional stake in the story, or are you saying I can switch between different characters' POV (done correctly without head-hopping) between scenes, depending on who has the greatest emotional stake for that scene?

    I have so much learning to do, but it'll be worth it in the end!

  3. #13
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    Are you saying I should, for example, choose Sarah's POV for the entire book if she has the greatest emotional stake in the story, or are you saying I can switch between different characters' POV
    Who has the largest emotional stake changes. And, you may have scenes in which different combinations of characters are involved.

    In Ties of Blood, for example, I had a scene where one character learns that another is a vampire. Because the vampire must leave someone she just learned to love, and is placed in the position where giving in to the other character's demands means admitting to be a vampire, that character was far more emotionally stressed, and so was the one I chose to be the POV character. But then, when the decision to say, "Okay, check out my nice set of fangs was made, the one with a huge emotional reaction is the one who discovers that vampires are real, and must keep from freaking out, so I ended the chapter and opened the next with the man's oh...my...god moment and the aftermath.

    So you do change POV, but there must be a reason strong enough that he reader will be glad you changed.

    Make sense?

  4. #14
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    Perfect sense, thank you!

  5. #15
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    I just wanted to pop in and say thank you to everyone who's responded to my thread! I researched POV more thoroughly and have realized that I was definitely head-hopping. I've also figured out that what I really want is third person multiple. With all of your help, I've identified the problem, figured out the solution, and am already writing better! I'm thinking about using brackets for when Valfredo talks while I'm in his POV. When I'm not in his POV I will not have him talk (although he may attempt to, I will write in sounds, not words) unless it's something the humans understand (he and Sarah have figured out how to communicate a simple "yes" and "no").

    Thank you so much, everyone! I will keep striving to improve and, with all y'alls' help, I shall one day become a good or, dare I say it, great, writer.

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