Fiction Writing Dos and Don'ts!
Writing Advice Pt.2
Writing Advice Pt.2
When used properly a thread or plot device can be devastatingly emotional. And this is a good thing, but there is yet another type of plot device that can wring even more emotional turmoil out of your story….a character’s charitable act.
Yes, a good character’s selflessness or - even better - a bad guy that became good can be used to achieve the same type of goal. Redemption.
I have used this as well, and it’s great for character development. Both kinds of character development - the type where you as the writer develop a character into a three-dimensional person that your reader can identify with and love…as well as that character’s emotional development over the period of your story.
Good, thought-out plot devices and well executed threads can certainly accomplish this.
Below is an example of a character plot device from the first half of my novel, Tip of the Spear. Max Robespierre, who has been dead since 1794, is explaining to Sabine, our hero, that at one time he was a very bad dude during the French Revolution.
“I was so unbelievably arrogant. I continued to attack God, and I knew better – I really did. It seemed I couldn’t help myself, though, getting caught up in the moment. I even forced the Catholic Church to stop recognizing Sunday with a new calendar. Can you imagine? Then my countrymen condemned me to the guillotine. I was sent to Hell, naturally.”
That answered a few questions, and raised more. “I didn’t know that.”
“You’re the first person I’ve ever told. Anyhow, God….well, He came down and offered me a job. I was thunderstruck, to say the least. I asked Him why He wanted me after all I’d done. Father God said – and I quote – I see something in you that no one else does. You have a great purpose ahead of you. End quote.”
The infallible Max Robespierre was starting to grow on me. “Have you discovered what that purpose is yet?”
Max shook his head. “Nope. But I work every single day hoping to find out.”
The character Max, who in real life was responsible for the deaths of 40,000 French - including Marie Antoinette - has just explained that God’s redemption can extend all the way down into Hell if need be. The scene below is from the very end of the book, and our intrepid Wallis Kocepk - a damned soul that redeemed himself quite well - has been sent back to Hell.
It didn’t matter now. Kocepk smiled to himself. At least he had a few pleasant memories to keep him company down here in Hell.
He was surprised when someone cleared their throat behind him.
Kocepk stood slowly and turned around.
“Hello, Wallis. Have you got a moment?”
In case you haven’t put it together…that’s God talking. God Himself came down to get Wallis Kocepk. This thread - as you can see - was set up earlier by Max Robespierre. That thread was tied together by one spoken sentence, the one you see above.
When a reader is presented with a well-executed plot device that causes them to hug your book to their chest and sniffle back a tear….well, you just hit the jackpot, baby.
And now for something different....
I have no desire to insult you, learned writer. This section is meant to enlighten our younger readers who were too busy texting in class. Shame on you. For those of you who simply wish to brush up, read on and enjoy. We will be discussing the different narrative styles that nearly all writers employ.
First Person: The narrator is also a main character, and can convey unspoken thoughts to the reader - but not necessarily to other characters - that are deeply personal. This character is often the protagonist, with the storyline revolving around him/her.
Second Person: Very rare and very confusing. Do not use.
Third Person Singular: The most flexible, and the most frequently employed. And for good reason. The story is conveyed by a main character that is limited in their knowledge, and the reader is privy to the thoughts and emotions of that character only. This would be called subjective singular.
There are other third person view styles - I don’t recommend any of them, though. Objective singular (or plural) is used occasionally, but is often confusing.
Third Person Omniscient: The narrator has unlimited knowledge of time, events and everything going on in the head of each and every character - including animals. Do not use.
I am a huge fan of First Person narrative, and at the same time I despise Third Person Omniscient.
Strange? Well, maybe.
Some people are turned off by First Person, and won’t read books of that type. Other people believe it’s the only true way to properly convey a work of fiction. I became a fan after reading Memoirs of a Geisha back in 1997.
What I found interesting was the fact that Arthur Golden first wrote his novel in the Third Person narrative, and he felt it just didn’t pop…so to speak. He rewrote the book as First Person told by Chiyo, the main character. And the rest is history.
I’m going to take a moment and explain that I made rules for myself when writing, which is simply another way of saying I developed my own style.
The main character - talking to the reader in the first person - narrates the story in my books. When the story switches to another character, the view point changes to third person singular.
It isn’t that difficult of a concept. James Patterson does it all the time. But he breaks one of my personal rules. The narrator, while telling the story, can have any of the other characters in his or her scene. But not vice-versa. A minor character, telling the story third person singular, can only have a scene as long as the narrator is nowhere to be found.
It shouldn’t be.
We'll explore more next time around.
Who are your favorite