Are You an Obsessive Series Reader?

If you read and enjoyed Book One of a series, do you then have to read all of the rest? I just finished reading all eleven books in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series–I started on March 29, and chewed through all of them by this past Saturday.

As I step out of this Ward fog, life is still going on around me. And I’m kind of relieved actually. I really have other things I need to be reading, but more importantly–doing. Because when I get my teeth on a series like this, I’m reading when I don’t normally read. Barring something unusual going on, I read every day, but within certain time allotments. But this past month, I was reading in the mornings on weekends, or coming home from work and reading, when I should be concentrating on writing or revisions.

But I also miss the Brothers! I love getting immersed in a world like that, with an author who delivers. I’m not usually someone who tears up reading romances, but man, the emotional rollercoasters she executed were quite something, and more than once had the ol’ tear ducts working. I think my favorites were V and Z stories, and my heart just broke for Qhuinn. And Lover At Last was my first M/M Romance. I think my least fave was Phury’s, which was disappointing because I was really looking forward to his.

Reading them also had a side benefit–they were a great lesson in Deep POV writing. If you’ve been wanting to see Deep POV in action and don’t mind walking on the dark side for your romance, you can’t go wrong reading these.

What about you? Do you chew through a series that grabs you to the exclusion of other things you should be doing? Have you read the BDB series? Which were your faves?

Writing Craft Books – Recent Purchases to Recommend

I just indulged and bought a small passel of writing craft books and I thought I’d share them with y’all.

The Literary Enneagram: Characters from the Inside Out

As entertaining as it is illuminating, THE LITERARY ENNEAGRAM offers a fresh version of the standard “Great Books” course, using characters from literature to show the inner dynamics of the nine Enneagram personality types and their variations

I discovered the Enneagram for myself a little over a year ago and immediately began reading up on it to use to help with characterization. Then I discovered this, which is perfect for me. Just started it yesterday, and so far has been very illuminating. Very helpful in developing the character arc and emotional range of your characters.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

I began using their website back when I first discovered it in 2009 and am so delighted to finally have this in book form for easy reference. I just got it, so haven’t had a chance to peek inside, but my only wish with the website was that they had more examples of what these emotions feel like on the inside. A lot of times the entries only relate what the observable body language is, which the main POV character can’t usually know if we’re writing in Deep POV. The book may have more of this.

What To Do Before Your Book Launch

What To Do Before Your Book Launch is a guide for authors, covering everything from working with your publisher, to reading in public, to help for publicity and marketing, to using (and misusing) social media, to how to dress for your author photo…and far more, including cautionary tales, worksheets, timelines and etiquette tips.

I wasn’t sure if this would live up to the description, but it was definitely worth the purchase price! I haven’t yet been through this stage, so can’t say how accurate it is, but it seems to be very helpful in explaining what to expect, even getting into tips on how to pose for your author photo. Lots of scary cautionary tales as well!

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View

Dear Novelist: Would you like your readers to live your stories, not merely read them? Deep Point of View anchors your readers inside the point of view character(s) of your novel. This handbook shows you how to perform the transformation from ordinary narrative to deep narrative in clear, easy-to-master steps. I invite you to sweep your writing to the next level with a technique that creates immediacy and intimacy with your readers and virtually eliminates show/don’t tell issues. My Best to You, Jill

Again, I wasn’t sure about this one, but it was worth it. Most of the stuff I already knew, but man was I craving such a craft book over a year ago when I was first struggling with understanding Deep POV. For those still trying to learn it, I would definitely recommend this. Each chapter ends in recommended exercises. For those unpublished writers already familiar with it, it would be helpful for the review and for perhaps one or two subtle points. As I said, most I already knew, but there were a few nuances, with examples, that definitely helped me.

What recent writing craft purchases have you made? Are you a total dork about buying them like I am? I love ‘em. What’s your favorite?

A Cautionary Tale When Writing in Deep POV

I love reading books in Deep POV and so when I set out to hone my writing, I was gobbling up Deep POV advice. One of the main tenets of Deep POV is to cut out filter words like “she saw,” “she heard,” etc., because in Deep POV you’re writing AS the character, and so of course that’s who noticed, smelled and heard these things.

Well, here’s an embarrassing side effect of being too overzealous that I thought I’d share with you so that when you go through your manuscript and excise these guys you’ll not make the mistake I made.

To walk you through my mistake, here’s the sentences I had during a revision sweep this past summer:

On the verge of suggesting she arise, he saw the dratted door knob turn again

and:

While in this undesirable position on the floor, he heard a board creak in the hallway.

So, here’s me thinking “easy peasey” and I reworked these to:

On the verge of suggesting she arise, he saw the dratted door knob turned again

and:

While in this undesirable position on the floor, he heard a board creaked in the hallway.

All cool, right? Yay, I’d mastered one of the tenets of Deep POV! Woohoo!

Ah, no.

What’s wrong with those sentences? Luckily, a sharp-eyed beta reader found these for me. You see it, too. Yep, it’s a DANGLING PARTICIPLE.

Of course there’s no way the door knob had become sentient and was about to ask the heroine to arise, or that a board was in an awkward position. When my beta reader first pointed them out to me, I stared at them going “how in the world did I even construct these sentences? I know better!” and then it hit me: I’d just taken out the filter words and called it a day.

So I thought I’d share this with you so that you can wield Deep POV principles more wisely than I.

Have you ever used a new writing technique willy nilly and only later realized the consequences? Have you ever accidentally constructed some really funny dangling participles?

Milestone: This was my 100th post!

Go Deep! Eliminate Distancing Phrases for Deep POV

Ah, Deep POV, or Deep Penetration, as Orson Scott Card calls it. There’s nothing quite as titillating.

And no, we’re talking about writing guys, get your mind out of the gutter, jeez. (Sorry couldn’t resist. *clears throat*). Anyway, my current WIP is written in Deep POV. For those unfamiliar with this, it’s a style of 3rd person POV (Point of View) and sounds very much like 1st. It’s a very popular choice for romance writers, because it allows the reader to be in the character’s head, but also reaps the benefits of 3rd.

My first introduction to it was in Card’s book Elements of Fiction Writing – Characters & Viewpoint, but it only whet my appetite and it wasn’t enough for me to go on. I wanted more! So, I scoured writing blogs and read tips and tricks. One online resource I found useful was Jordan McCollum’s 12 post series on Deep POV.  However, alas, my poor emerging writer brain still had a hard time fully grasping how to achieve this immersive style of writing. I understood some of the easy, take-home tenets, but I felt like I wasn’t fully getting the rest. And I’m still learning!

So, I took a 2-week online class over the summer with the inestimable Camy Tang, and it was exactly what I needed. Each day she had a specific tip for us to use as homework that night and she’d comment back the next day. Some of them I’d read before, but it really helped having an author verify or push you further.

One of her tips you see a lot: eliminate distancing phrases like ‘he said’, ‘he heard’, etc. This is almost always covered in any blog post on Deep POV. But I thought it bears repeating since this is something I see a lot in submissions I critique. Anytime we use phrases like this, we’re yanking the reader out of the character’s head and telling them what the character is sensing as if we’re watching them in a movie. It’s like we’re telling the reader, “this is how the character feels right now,” instead of describing it in a way that makes the reader feel what the character is feeling. Since everything we narrate is what they see, hear, taste, etc., it’s best to take them straight to it. Sometimes we can’t get around it or it won’t make sense, but when we can, it will make the immersion deeper for our reader.

Do a search in your WIP for the following verbs and see if you can get rid of them:

  • saw
  • watched
  • felt
  • heard
  • thought
  • knew
  • wondered/wondering
  • realized/realizing
  • remembered/remembering
  • decided/deciding
  • noticed/noticing
  • wished/wishing

For examples on how these can be changed, see Ms. Tang’s writing tips. This is only a shortened version of her great online class. See also Girls With Pens’ post on writing in Deep POV.

And since no writing tips post is completely useful without embarrassing myself giving examples, here’s the before and after I submitted to Ms. Tang. The hero at this point has only recently learned she’s from the future and has found the item that will allow her to return. It is written from the hero’s POV, hence the old-fashioned tone (the parts in bold are parts that changed):

Ten minutes later Miss Rochon returned with a wooden bowl that she placed on a table between them. “These are the items that were with me when I came here. Normally I would have much more in my purse, but since I was going to a ball, and my purse was small, I only had the essentials.” She held up a clump of clinking metal objects and passed it to Miss Byron, “These are my keys. They are much different than the keys you are used to, but they open my house – your house, Phineas – another opens my office in the British Museum, another goes to my car.”

Of course they questioned the meaning of the last item named, and Miss Rochon went into a lengthy discussion of the automobile, its usage and ubiquity in her time. Next, she pulled out a hard, flat rectangle, calling it a debit card, and explained it; showed her “Georgia driver’s license,” the American bank notes she had, her tube of lipstick – which fascinated Miss Byron — and then she produced a thick black object. (‘fascinated’ wasn’t in the list, but it’s telling what can be better shown)

“Is that… I do believe that is the device you had the first night we became acquainted, is it not?” asked Phineas.

“Yes, but it’s lost its power. Kind of like how you use gas to power the lights on the street, this takes a different kind of power to work and it’s run out. But we use it to talk to who are in a different place, read news as it happens… That night I tried to contact my friends with it. Remember I wanted to meet some friends at a place nearby?”

Phineas understood, finally, how different was her normal lifestyle. He also suspected that the device did much more than what she had revealed and she held back for his sake. He felt overwhelmed and obsolete. (this part I cut out completely on the rewrite as it became clear that it was redundant when I deepened the POV) How could he compete? (this part I had to change so that it would match the new metaphor I came up with on the rewrite)

Miss Byron interjected to relate other wonders it performed, confirming his suspicion. “And that is not all. She captured a likeness of me at the ball, and I saw myself in there, in my dress. And it can also add numbers, as I told you Mr. Babbage is attempting to do.”

Phineas stared (looking and staring are so common in my drafts, argh! They don’t really add much) at Miss Rochon who caught his look and gave a half shrug. His stomach in turmoil, he cleared his throat. “Miss Rochon, I believe I have found the means for your return to this wondrous future,” and he retrieved the silver case from inside his pocket, wrapped now in satin cloth.

He heard Miss Rochon gasp and he looked up to see that she held herself perfectly still. Setting the object on the table, he pulled back the cloth.

After:

Ten minutes later, Isabelle returned with a wooden bowl that she placed on a table between them. “These are the items that were with me when I came here. Normally, I would have had much more in my purse, but since I was going to a ball, my purse was small and I only had the essentials.” She held up a clump of clinking metal objects and passed it to Miss Byron. “These are my keys. They are much different than the keys you are used to, but they open my house — your house Phineas — another opens my office in the British Museum, another goes to my car.”

Of course they questioned the meaning of the last item named, and Isabelle went into a lengthy discussion of the automobile, its usage and ubiquity in her time. Next, she pulled out a hard, flat rectangle, calling it a debit card, and explained it; showed her “Georgia driver’s license,” the American bank notes she had, her tube of lipstick — which Miss Byron kept spiraling open and closed, eyes wide — and then she produced a thin black object.

“Is that… I do believe that is the device you had the first night we became acquainted, is it not?” asked Phineas.

“Yes, but it’s lost its power. Kind of like how you use gas to power the lights on the street, this takes a different kind of power to work and it’s run out. But we use it to talk to people who are in a different place, read news as it happens… That night I tried to contact my friends with it. Remember I wanted to meet some friends at a place nearby?”

He suspected that the device did much more than what she had revealed, and she held back for his sake. A chasm opened in his mind’s eye, Isabelle, occupying the other side and retreating. How could he hope to bridge the gap?

Miss Byron interjected to relate other wonders it performed, confirming his suspicion. “And that is not all. She captured a likeness of me at the ball, and I saw myself in there, in my dress. Moreover, it can also make mathematical calculations, as I told you Mr. Babbage is attempting to do.”

Isabelle gave a half shrug. His stomach in turmoil, he cleared his throat. “Miss Rochon, I believe I have found the means for your return to this wondrous future.” He retrieved the silver case from inside his pocket, wrapped now in satin cloth.

She gasped and Phineas looked up. She held herself perfectly still. Setting the object on the table, he pulled back the cloth.

So how about you? Are you writing in Deep POV? What aspects of Deep POV have you found to be the hardest to grasp? Have you found any online resources that do a good job of helping writers learn Deep POV?