What’s a POV or point of view? In writing it is the story’s perspective. In other words, it’s who’s narrating. The POV is important to how you want to tell your story. One type of POV can provide a greater intimacy in your narration, while another type of POV may engender greater excitement and thrills in your narration. There are three basic types of POV that parallel the three basic persons of personal pronouns: I, you, and he, she or it, or better known as first person, second person, and third person. Lets look at each in turn:
Next time I’ll review the details of various do’s and don’ts for writing different points of view.
You’re writing the final scene of your great sports novel. The underdog football team is in the fight of their lives and behind by a six points. The protagonist, the running back, gets the ball with two seconds left on the clock. You write, “He got the ball from the quarterback and ran through the hole for the winning touchdown with zero seconds on the clock.” OK, the underdog wins. But, your closing sentence is a bit anticlimactic. Perhaps a better closing sentence would be, “He got the ball from the quarterback, stumbled through the hole and stretched getting the nose of the ball across the goal line with zero seconds on the clock.”
In the first sentence the biggest action is “ran”. In the second, the back “stumbled” and “stretched”. Those two verbs conjure up more specific action than the weak “ran” and, as a result, gives the sentence a greater immediacy, thus adding more excitement to the ending of the story.
In the above example “stumbled” and “stretched” are strong verbs. So, what’s a strong verb?
A strong verb describes the action in a specific manner evoking a clarity and conciseness to the sentence. Notice four attributes of strong verbs: descriptive, specific, evocative and conciseness.
One source I found divided weak verbs into linking verbs and vague verbs. Linking verbs are the “is, are, was, were, be, being” verbs. They don’t really reveal any specific action. Vague verbs operate just as the name implies. They talk about action but don’t deliver the specifics. For example “run” can mean saunter, sprint, dash, gallop, etc. What kind of running was actually performed?
Using strong verbs means there are some things to avoid:
Google “strong verbs” and you’ll find articles with a listing of strong verbs. Print out one the lists and keep it near your computer. Let it remind you that there are verbs much more powerful than the vanilla ran, said, did, came, is, etc. Use the alternative strong verb and watch your writing soar.
If you write thrillers or action/adventure novels you have to write action scenes. They are part and parcel of the genres. Jack Ryan and Jack Reacher have never sat in a rocking chair waxing eloquent. They are men of action and that means action scenes.
There are guidelines for writing action scenes or at least suggestions that seem to work. In my writing I’ve found six points that help keep my action scenes on track. They are:
After viewing The Lord of the Rings movies I read the books. And I noticed one interesting difference. Unlike in the movies, the battle scenes in Tolkien’s books were short and to the point. No drawn out descriptions, no long speeches, no lazy verbs. He used an economy of words that served the purpose of advancing the story.
Take a page from Tolkien’s books and make those action scenes short and sweet.
I’ve been blogging about loglines for the past two weeks, now. And, it occurred to me that there’s another type of “line” that I ought to mention. And that is the tagline. It’s another device derived from the movies and should not be confused with the logline.
OK, you say, just what is a tagline and what’s the difference between it and a logline? A tagline is, according to Merriam-Webster, a reiterated phrase identified with an individual, group, or product. In business, its called a slogan and is designed to promote a given product or service. What do you think of when you hear, “I’m lovin’ it” or “Just do it”? If McDonalds and Nike don’t instantly come to mind you’ve probably been living on Mars for the past fifty years.
Of course, the logline is a very brief synopsis of the story designed to whet your appetite for the movie or novel.
In movies the tagline plays the same role as a product’s slogan. It is a catchy phrase designed to evoke some exciting or poignant aspect of the movie. I’ve read that the most famous movie tagline of all is, “In space no one can hear you scream.” It’s from Alien. Movie taglines are used in a variety of venues: the movie poster you see in theaters, on DVD cases, and spoken and/or displayed in trailers.
Taglines can be gleaned from a variety of sources:
Like movies, novels can have taglines also. A tagline can be a great selling tool. You can place your tagline on the cover of your novel. You can tweet it. You can even print it on business cards along with an image of the book cover and your contact information.
Here are a few examples found on the covers of novels I chose at random from my adult daughter’s library:
Try creating a tagline for your novel. It’s a great tool. And, if it happens to become one of those iconic phrases that finds itself on everybody’s tongue, you could wind up with a bestseller on your hands.
I have a confession to make. There have been times, while sitting in the dark watching the credits roll at the end of the feature film, I’ve secretly thought, Wow, the trailers were better. Yep, that’s right. I admit it. I love movie trailers. Those, one to two minute packages of excitement designed to whet your appetite for the real thing really get my juices flowing. I gotta see that movie when it comes out, flashes through my brain with the steady succession of trailers playing out on the screen just before the main feature.
That same excitement can work for you by creating a logline for your novel. Movies, obviously, are a visual medium so scenes accompany loglines for movies. But, your novel must evoke those same scenes in your reader’s mind by crafting your best blend of words. Of course you can create trailers for your novels with sound, music, and action. But, words, I think, have a more enduring quality.
So, what makes up a good logline? In researching this blog I’ve found articles with between 3 and 10 bullet points of what’s needed. I narrowed it down to four essential ingredients. My four components for the logline are:
Try creating a logline for your own novel. Over time you’ll find some useful applications for it. And, it just might help your sales.