Showing posts with label writing elements. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing elements. Show all posts

The Two Elements of Point of View


 

By Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer

 As the title states, there are two elements to point of view (POV).

1. The first element is who’s telling the story.

From whose viewpoint is the story being related to the reader? Or whose story is it?

With this part of POV, you’re choosing the character who is telling the story.With young children’s books, there should be only one POV: that of the protagonist.

When you’re writing in one character’s POV, it’s essential that you don’t accidentally fall into head-hopping.

Head-hopping suddenly brings another character’s POV into the story within the same scene. It may be the same paragraph or the same chapter.

There’s no lead-in to the POV change, which makes it jarring to the reader. It can cause the reader to pause, making him read the passage a few times to get it straight.

It may seem that sticking to one POV is an easy thing, but it’s actually a very easy slip to make. You can slip into another character’s POV without even realizing it.

An example:

Jason is the POV character. Ralph is his best friend.

Jason couldn’t wait to tell Ralph his good news. He grabbed Ralph by the arm and spun him around.

“Hey,” Ralph yelled. His immediate thought was to have his fist ready.


This sentence brings Ralph’s POV into the scene as his thoughts are being made known to the reader.

To eliminate it:
Jason couldn’t wait to tell Ralph his good news. He grabbed Ralph by the arm and spun him around.

“Hey,” Ralph yelled, his fist ready to fly.

With this little change, you’re keeping the essence of the scene while also keeping it in Jason’s (the POV character) POV.

Another example.
Jason couldn’t stop thinking of the girl he and Ralph met earlier. And neither could Ralph.

When you slip into another character’s internal thoughts, you’re head-hopping.

See how easy it is to do this-just four little words.

A simple fix:
Jason couldn’t stop thinking of the girl he and Ralph met earlier. He knew Ralph couldn’t either.

According to Jerry Jenkins, “I avoid that [head-hopping] by imagining my Point of View or Perspective Character as my camera—I’m limited to writing only what my character “camera” sees, hears, and knows.”

2. The second element is whether the story is told in first, second, or third person.

The second element establishes how the story is told. In other words, is it told in first person, second person, or third person limited?

This is a powerful element of storytelling.

A quick overview:

First-person pronouns: me, I, mine, and my.

The protagonist is telling his story. He’s the narrator.

Examples of this POV are:
–Angry Ninja by Mary Nhin
–Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
–The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Second-person pronouns: you, your, and yours.

The protagonist is the narrator and talks directly to the reader.

Examples of this POV are:
–How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
-Train Your Angry Dragon By Steve Herman
–The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Third-person limited pronouns: he, she, they, it.

A narrator is telling the story through the protagonist’s perspective in the case of young children’s books.

The narrator is inside the protagonist’s thoughts, senses, and feelings.

According to MasterClass, it ”can give readers a deeper experience of character and scene, and is the most common way to use point of view.”

Examples of this POV:
Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi
–The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
–The Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

I hope this helps you get a better handle on point of view.

This article was first published at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2021/07/11/writing-and-point-of-view-2-must-know-elements/ 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


 

 

 

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, editor, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. If you need help with your story, click HERE.

Karen also provides:

FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN COURSE
A guided self-study course and mentoring program.

HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S FICTION BOOK
A DIY book to help you write your own children’s book.

WRITERS ON THE MOVE PRESS
Self-publishing help for children’s authors.









Is There a Number One Writing Element?

 


Contributed by Karen Cioffi

 There’s a lot of information on the elements of writing.

You have characters, setting, point-of-view, style, theme, plot, and even literary devices.

But you also have things like readability, consequences, and uniqueness.

Could you choose which of these elements is the most important?

It’s tough, isn’t it?

Well, after doing some research and reading a number of articles, the answer became simple.

The most important element to writing fiction is the WHY.

You can have all the above mentioned elements in your story, but if the why is missing, the story will fall flat. The reader won’t bother turning the pages.

So, what’s the WHY?

The why is usually the inciting incident.

It’s the reason you wrote the story and the reason the reader will bother reading it.

Studiobinder explains that, "the inciting incident should have a snowball effect. Let the story grow from the one thing that goes wrong (or right) like a snowball would if it rolled down a hill.”

The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japanese-American Internment Camp is a middle grade story that has a significant and jolting inciting incident.

The protagonist is a nice boy of Japanese descent. At the outbreak of WWII, he and his family are taken to an internment camp. The protagonist’s life is turned upside down. They lose everything and are imprisoned.

Readers are immediately grabbed and want to know what happens to the boy.

Keep in mind that the inciting incident doesn’t have to be a bomb going off and destroying the protagonist’s home and family. It could be something simple that snowballs into something huge.

Sleepless in Seattle is one of my favorite movies, but the inciting incident doesn’t really seem to be of much consequence at the moment. Tom Hank’s character talks on the phone to a radio show psychologist about how difficult it is to cope with the loss of his wife.

While it’s a touching scene, it’s the aftermath of that call that creates the snowball effect.

Women, including Meg Ryan’s character, hear the conversation on the radio and immediately all want to be the woman who heals Tom Hank’s character’s broken heart.

This turns the protagonist’s life upside down.

In the two examples above, it was an external factor that created the inciting incident. But what if it’s an internal struggle?

In Walking Through Walls, the protagonist, Wang, doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps of tending to a wheat field that he doesn’t own. So, he journeys to become a mystical Eternal.

It’s Wang’s laziness, greed, and want of power that is the why of the story.

The inciting incident isn’t bomb-like, but it sends him off on a journey that changes him forever.

According to the article, "What is the Most Important Element When Writing a Story?", “As a novelist, you have to hone in on the event that brings the story into being and why your reader should care. That why is the question at the heart of every novel. The why is one of the first things readers look for when we pick up a book.”

While every element in writing is important in that when combined, they create a synergy that can create a powerful and memorable story, it’s the why that’s at the heart of every story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
https://thewritingworld.com/your-author-platform/

Karen’s children’s books include “Walking Through Walls” and “The Case of the Stranded Bear,” and her DIY book, “How to Write Children’s Fiction Books.” You can check them out at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/. If you need help with your children’s story, visit: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com.  




5 Key Elements to Making a Fiction Story Work

 


Contributed by Karen Cioffi

Think about the last time you read a story that stayed with you. A story that made you feel. A story that took you on an adventure or had you sitting on the edge of your seat. A story that made you cry or laugh ... or think.

These types of stories have it. They have the key to making a story work.

So, how do you go about creating a stirring story?

Here are 5 top tips to writing a fiction story that works:

1. It’s got to have conflict.

All writers have heard this and the reason is because it’s true.

Your protagonist MUST be striving for something, and it should be something significant. She needs to have obstacles in her way that she has to overcome in order for the reader to be engaged enough to turn the page.

The reader has to be pulled into the story wondering if, and more so hoping that, the protagonist reaches her goal.

You wouldn’t have much of a story following a couple in an amusement park going from ride to ride, waiting on line for food, and so on. There’s nothing for the reader to get involved with. There’s no emotional element.

Or, what if a great writer puts two children in a story that takes place at the Bronx Zoo. The narrator describes in detail all the exhibits they visit and does it wonderfully. But, what does the reader have to sink her teeth into. Nothing.

One of my all-time favorite movies was Thelma and Louise. The conflict was never-ending. And, it was the conflict that keep you on the edge of your seat.

How would they get out of the mess they were in?!

That’s how you want your readers to feel. There needs to be conflict in order to make the reader feel. It doesn’t have to be ‘seat of your pants’ drama, but it needs to be significant. It can be external or internal, but it has to be something the reader can grab and hang on to. It has to make the reader get involved with the story and care about it.

2. The readers need to be invested in the story.

A good story brings the reader into the protagonist’s shoes. This is what will motivate the reader to like and root for the protagonist.

It’s all about making the reader ‘feel.’ The story has to evoke emotion on the reader’s part. The story has to have substance.

Going back to Thelma and Louise, one wrong decision spiraled out of control into what seemed to them as a live or die situation.

Circumstances and choices took them bounding out-of-control, as if caught up in a tornado. This kind of story creates investment.

It evoked emotion in just about everyone who saw the movie. Everyone was rooting for the protagonists.

In an article, “Make Readers Deeply Connect to Your Characters,” the author calls this key factor, “transportation.” You’re bringing the reader out of their reality and into your story world. You’re transporting them.

Like Alice when she steps into the rabbit hole. Down, down, down she went into another world.

3. The characters have to act ‘real’ and be likeable.

Your characters need to be multifaceted. They need to behave like real people. This means they’ll have good traits, but they’ll also have some bad traits or weaknesses. It may be they’re indecisive. Or, at the beginning of the story they may be frightened of everything.

Your characters should make great decisions, but they should also make poor ones.

Along with this, your protagonist needs to be likeable. He needs to have traits that the reader will admire and connect to. It’s important that the reader likes the protagonist.

Maybe your protagonist will be honest, heroic, responsible, generous, or loyal.

You get the idea. These are characteristics that most people admire in others. They’re characteristics that will draw the reader in.

I forgot what movie it was and I forgot the exact details, but basically the protagonist was sitting in a diner across from her date. Another woman, elegantly dressed, walked passed with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her shoe. The toilet paper woman was heading to a table where a man was waiting for her.

The protagonist excused herself for a moment. She got up and removed the paper from the woman’s foot by walking behind her and stepping on the paper. Then she sat back down and returned to her conversation.

The woman that passed by never knew the kindness the protagonist showed her. And, the protagonist didn’t mention what she did to her date.

This one simple act of kindness spoke volumes about the character of the protagonist. She’s the type of person you’d admire and like to be friends with.

4. The protagonist needs to have some heroic qualities.

At some point in the story, the protagonist needs to step up. This can be in several small incidents that she overcomes throughout the story. Or, it can be in one climatic incident that wraps the story up.

In general, and especially in children’s stories, the protagonist needs to take action and reach her goal.

It may be after one or two or three failures, but ultimately, the protagonist must step up. Whether it’s physical or emotional, whether internal or external, she needs to fight through all obstacles that stand in her way.

Readers want a purposeful story. They want and even expect the protagonist to be victorious. Don’t let your readers down.

5. Tie-up all loose ends.

When you’re getting to the end of your story, make sure all loose ends are tied up. Any tidbits of information you put out there must be resolved.

You want the reader to go away satisfied. You don’t want her wondering why something was mentioned somewhere in the story and not resolved.

One example is mentioning that the protagonist’s close friend lost his dog. Then there’s no mention of it. Was the dog found?

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DOG?

Another example is in a middle-grade manuscript I read. The author had the friend of the protagonist saying he couldn’t go to the protagonist’s special event because he had something URGENT to do that day.

Afterward there was no mention of the urgent matter.

This is a NO-NO. What was so urgent? Why was it mentioned, if it wasn’t followed up with?

As I read the manuscript I knew that part would either have to be addressed (tied-up) or eliminated.

These loose-ends are things that will gnaw at the reader. They will finish the book feeling like something is missing. Again, this is a NO-NO.

So, there you have it.

While there is more involved in writing good fiction, these five are at the top of the ‘good fiction story’ list.

Sources:

https://janefriedman.com/connect-characters/
https://www.cs.indiana.edu/metastuff/wonder/ch1.html (NO LONGER LIVE)

This article was originally published at: http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2017/11/26/a-fiction-story-5-key-elements/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting, rewriting, and coaching business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.


And, check out Karen's The Adventures of Planetman picture book series and other books:
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/
 

 

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Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?

Writing can be thought of as a recipe, a handful of plot, a quarter cup of setting, a third to a half cup of dialogue, and a half cup of action and forward movement. Then you also need to add just the right amount of theme, character, and style. Stir it all together and bake for several months (might be longer, depending on your oven), and that’s it.

Ah, if it were only that simple.

Today, there are a number of rules to writing that didn’t plague writers years ago when the world was slower and people actually had time to sit and read at a leisurely pace. Writers had the luxury of setting scenes in detail and didn’t have to worry about ‘telling’ too much.

Now, publishers want your story to begin with a BAM. Grab the reader right away, or you’ll lose her. And, it’s important that setting and telling are limited. In addition, don’t forget to magically weave backstory for your characters seamlessly into the mix.

So, what is the right balance of writing elements that will create a successful story?

Well, there really isn’t a pat formula. Each story will call for its own particular amounts of elements, and each publisher will have her own set of rules that the author must adhere to. But there are certain basics that all stories must contain.

The five basic elements of a story are:

Plot: The arrangement of circumstances and/or events in the story, including conflicts and resolution.

Character: Without the main character and supporting characters the plot is useless. It is the character’s struggle to overcome the conflicts or obstacles in his path that gives the plot life.

Setting: This element includes the physical backdrop of the story, the time period and location.

Atmosphere or Tone: The mood, including the setting, characters and their clothing, weather, and other elements within the story, determines the tone of the story.

Style: The author’s way of expressing herself is the style. Sentence structure, diction, choice of words, point of view, imagery, and symbols are all means of conveying a story that is unique to the author.

In regard to the amounts or balance of each element, the objective is to create a story that continually moves forward toward a satisfying conclusion while holding the reader’s attention. You can have a plot driven story, or a character driven story, you can also have a story with a lot of dialogue, but you need to be sure the story is focused, coherent, and engaging.

Often, as you self-edit your own work, you won’t be able to see if the elements are just right; you should have it critiqued and have an editor take a look at it to see if you’re on the mark. And, then after all that, it will be up to the publisher’s editor to give the final say on whether you have just the right balance of writing elements for a successful story.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.

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