On Depression and Writing | by Derek Haines

A fascinating insight on depression and writing, by Derek Haines:

Is there a connection between depression and writing?

The diagnosis

Some years ago now, I clearly recall my doctor telling me that there was a definitive link between depression and writing. The only problem with his link was that he had no idea at all if writers became depressed through writing, or if depression miraculously manufactured writers.

So why was I at my doctor at that time talking about depression and writing? Well, to cut a long story short, within the space of six short months I had lost my parents, both very suddenly, my very best friend died due to a long-term disease, another friend was killed on a pedestrian crossing, oh, and just add some spice, my business failed, and I was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, it was a very busy six months.

During my regular consultations with my doctor at that time, he also discovered from a blood test that I had suffered from an undiagnosed case of glandular fever, or mononucleosis, during the same six months.

So, all things considered, I had a good solid list of reasons to be feeling a bit under the weather at that time.

I hate the word depression

I dislike the word depression intensely, as, from my experience, when you have this affliction, the symptoms don’t relate at all well with the word. Constant joint pain, muscle cramps, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, waking up feeling exhausted, difficulty with concentration, digestive problems and loss of appetite are some of the symptoms I suffered, but during my illness, I rarely felt sad, blue, morose and never once did I have suicidal feelings. I didn’t feel depressed. I just felt unwell.

When people around you know that you are being treated for this ill-described condition, they always ask the same pathetic question, which by itself can drive one crazy.

“Are you okay?”

The only logical reply becomes an auto-response.

“I’ll be okay.” (That’s what you want me to say, isn’t it?)

Back to the bit about writing

The only reason I mention all of this now is that during that tough time, and then over the following year or more of treatment for, well, let’s call it melancholia for want of a better word, I wrote like a crazy. I think I wrote six novels.

Productive? Well, I didn’t have much else to do, did I?

Except to prove that my doctor’s link between depression and writing was correct.

That was all many years ago now, and I can happily report that I am completely, totally and utterly normal and healthy. Um, ok, normal may be stretching the truth a little, as I have never been good at that, so I guess I should say that I have been back to my abnormal self again for quite a few years.

But …

I am left with one small problem.

In that one year of being treated for the dreaded word, I wrote so damn well. Probably because I had little to do other than write. But now, I have a lot of trouble getting even close to writing as well as I did back then. Of all the books I have written, three that I wrote in that year are still my best sellers.

The only solution I can see to my new problem is to make an appointment with my doctor and ask him to put me back on those bloody pills right now. I want to write another great new book!

No! There’s no link at all between depression and writing, is there?

Via https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/on-depression-and-writing

7 Must Do Tasks When Your Manuscript is Finished

Manuscript

Your manuscript is finished – so now what?

You’ve sent it off to your editor, proofreader or beta readers, so you can kick your shoes off and relax, right?

No way! You’ve got a lot of work to do.

There are 7 very important tasks you can get to work on while your finished manuscript is in the hands of others, and you will be so busy, you won’t have time to worry about how long your beta readers take in getting back to you.

So, let’s get you to work. (You can follow the links in each section for more detailed information.)

1. Research your book title

Your book title is going to be more important than anything else in attracting potential readers, so it is time to do some serious research into it. You might love your working title, but that means nothing until you are certain it is going to work. You need to know how to find a great book title that is unique, and will attract readers’ interest.

Not only that, you (could, should, ought to) have a sub-title. Why? Because your title and sub-title are your most important pieces of metadata, and metadata is what is used by the Internet and Amazon in their search algorithms. A title and sub-title that are highly searchable will attract more people to your book. More on metadata later.

The most important issue when deciding on your book title is to make sure it is as unique as possible. Joining a long list of books with the same or a very similar title is not going to get you many sales.

2. Get a killer cover.

No, don’t even think of creating your book cover yourself unless you are a graphic designer and an expert with Photoshop. Get a cover or a series of covers designed professionally (but stay within your budget). Great book covers are second only to your title in importance, so don’t take cheap shortcuts.

One simple factor that is often overlooked when deciding on a book cover is how it will look as a small thumbnail image. This is what potential book buyers see first, so it is vitally important that your cover is just as appealing as a thumbnail as it is in full size.

Do your research again, and check the top selling books in your genre to see what their covers are like, and again, how appealing and eye catching they look in small sizes. Another factor to check is the colours that are used by popular books in your genre. You may get a surprise here, as many popular genres use a very small range of colours. For example: Think ‘chic-lit’ – Pastel pinks, blues and green.

3. Write your book description.

Yes, I know. Every author hates this task. However, it must be done, and again, it is going to be a vital part of your book’s metadata so it needs to be extremely well written. Writing a great book description is not an easy task, but again, check top selling books in your genre and make a few notes. Unlike your book of thousands of words, your book description needs to hook a reader’s interest inside 15 seconds, or 150 words. It should be longer of course, but those first words and seconds are the most important of all.

4. Research your categories and keywords.

Without these seven elements, your book will be lost, so choose them extremely carefully. These, along with your book title are the most important pieces of metadata, and researched and selected well, they will allow readers to find your book. They are so important that their power to sell books is greater than you can achieve with paid advertising, blogging or social media. You can expect to have an online audience of your own numbering in the hundreds or thousands. But your carefully selected categories and keywords will give you access to millions of online book buyers.

5. Start your book promotion.

Do not wait until your book is finally published to get the word out about your new book. Build some momentum through your blog and social media and give your audience information about why, how, where and when you wrote your book. If you have a selection of cover ideas, why not ask for opinions on which one people like? Involve your online audience and keep them informed of your progress.

6. Plan your book launch.

Will you make your book available by pre-order? Will you purchase paid advertising? Will you make your book exclusive, or will you open publish? Ask your beta readers for their book reviews so you can add them to your book sales page. Plan ahead and ask book bloggers if they would be willing to help you with your book launch. Do you want to do a virtual book tour? Do not press the publish button without planning your launch. You only get once chance to launch your book, so plan it carefully and well in advance.

7. Decide on your price.

Setting the price for your ebook and/or paperback is crucial. Having a clear book pricing strategy is not as simple as it sounds. There are many factors to consider, such as competitiveness in various geographic markets, differential between ebook and paperback, as well as pricing for turnover or pricing for profit. Book prices are never set in concrete, so think about when you might discount, or increase the price. Are you going to offer a free ebook, and on what schedule? Should you increase your price before offering your ebook for free, and then reduce it afterwards? Again, do some research and write a brief pricing plan for your new book.

With all this work to do, you won’t have time to worry about when your manuscript will come back to you for your last read through and edit before publishing. You will be far too busy, won’t you?

Via :https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/7-must-do-manuscript-tasks

Procrastination: Why Writers Do It

Procrastinate

“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” – Alan Dean Foster

For us writers procrastinating can easily become an occupational hazard. It’s very common for us to go out of our way to avoid writing; with procrastination being an enemy of productivity.

When blogger and journalist Megan McArdle researched the topic one of her colleagues told her:

“Well, first, I put it off for two or three weeks. Then I sit down to write. That’s when I get up and go clean the garage. After that, I go upstairs, and then I come back downstairs and complain to my wife for a couple of hours. Finally, but only after a couple more days have passed and I’m really freaking out about missing my deadline, I ultimately sit down and write.”

Sound familiar? Steven Pressfield the author of War of Art believes it’s a form of resistance. In his book he identifies the enemy all of us must face. There is a naysayer within all of us that prevents us from achieving our goals. Whether it be writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece. Pressfield then continues to outline a battle plan to conquer our internal foes.

For many of us this foe can be procrastination. Truthfully there are a million reasons we lack the motivation or inspiration to fill our blank pages and we’re all different, but here are a couple of common ones:

Because we’re afraid

Fear is one of the biggest reasons we procrastinate. Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist studying motivation at Stanford University believes that writers are often paralysed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t very good. However, the fear of turning in nothing by a deadline usually outweighs the fear of handing in something terrible. Dr. Dweck believes this is because we regard our failures as growth because when we’re failing, we’re learning. It’s also believed that the “fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you ‘really’ are is so common it actually has a clinical name: Imposter Syndrome“. We spend so much time worrying our writing won’t be good enough, but we need to remember that at the end of the day we’re always our own worst critics and our fears are usually unwarranted. You can find out more on her thoughts in Why writers are the worst procrastinators.

Because we lack inspiration

When we don’t know what to write or we lack inspiration, our motivation can be severely impaired inhibiting our potential to create the art we we’re destined to produce. As mentioned above, sometimes this lack of inspiration stems from our desire to be perfect, but all you need is an idea. Once you have an idea you have the potential to create something amazing.

To overcome a lack of inspiration you need to actively engage with what you’re doing. If you’re writing a book about a prison go interview some inmates or correctional officers, or go visit a prison so you can get the feel for what you’re writing about by submerging yourself in the world of your writing. Sometimes you need a change of scenery, or just a short break. There’s a million different ways to get inspired but we all do this differently, Psychology Today have some good examples in their article ‘Lacking Motivation and Inspiration? 5 Secrets to Get Unstuck’ with everything from finding a muse, to shattering your self doubts, these ideas can help you find some much needed inspiration.

Identifying methods of procrastination

According to author Joanna Penn, procrastinating takes many forms. It isn’t  just playing a dozen games of angry birds, it often looks more like this:

  • Reading blogs about writing
  • Buying more books about writing
  • Tidying your desk so that you’ll be ready to write… really soon…!
  • Hanging out with other writers (offline or online) and talking about writing.

We spend a lot of time thinking about writing without actually writing, this is a key sign of procrastination and we need to use this knowledge to our advantage.

How to fight it

Being well versed in the art of procrastination is understandable given the culture of constant distraction we live in, but procrastination can be an important part of the writing process.

“It’s folly, what we do, if you think about it – to make something out of nothing, to spin a story or an argument, to ask a reader to give up his or her time and share with us a fantasy, a dream, a conversation, to seize the moment (for a moment) and try to hold it before it slips away”- David Ulin on procrastination as a creative tool.

Procrastination is often used as a defence mechanism, an idea and a blank page is perfect, but once we begin putting that idea into words that perfection can dwindle leaving us raw and exposed. We use it as a strategy for mitigating fear and anxiety.

To overcome this fear we need to follow the advice Annie Dillard provides in her work The Writing Life and understand that we need to write in spite of problems we may encounter. The tension between what we wish for and what we achieve can only be overcome if we work to achieve something. After all Hemmingway himself claimed “The first draft of anything is shit” but as writers we work to overcome this by re-drafting and editing.

If you are stuck in the procrastination bubble, here is some further reading that might help you break free:

Via: http://writersedit.com/writers-procrastinate/

Literary Devices: How To Master Flashback

Flashback

This week Writer’s Blog will be exploring literary devices to help you along with your writing. Literary devices are techniques and structures writers employ to convey their message and story. When done well, the use of literary devices can alter, manipulate and challenge the way a reader perceives any work. Used masterfully, literary devices influence how a story or essay can be interpreted and analysed, as well as how much the reader enjoys the work. Today’s device is Flashback:

How To Master Flashback

A flashback involves (as the name describes) a scene that moves from the present to the past to reveal something about a character or event within the narrative. Generally in fiction, the use of a flashback constitutes using white space to separate the past from the present, to signal to the reader that there has been a change in time and/or place. In some cases, a writer may choose to use italics (usually if the scene is more of a memory snippet than an actual fully-developed scene, as lots of italicized text irritates some readers and editors).

The best flashbacks are set up by the previous paragraph. In the lead up to the flashback, there is generally a ‘trigger’ – something that causes the protagonist/narrator to recall a particular event or detail of the past. The trigger is explored/explained in the flashback itself which then also reveals new information to the reader.

Flashbacks are an opportunity for the author to provide insight into situations that would otherwise be left unexplained…

Used in short stories, poems, novels, plays and movies, it is one of the most common and most recognisable writing techniques, and when executed well, one of the most effective.

Examples:

  • The Road (film): The director has used flashbacks throughout the whole film to reveal to the viewer how in a post-apocalyptic world, a father and son came to be on the road, homeless and unprotected.
  • Breaking Bad (television series): This series is renowned for doing things differently, and the use of flashback here is no exception. In Breaking Bad, the flashbacks often come first and are then later explained and explored in the next few episodes, setting up a sense of intrigue within its viewers.
  • Harry Potter (book series): Yes, even the Harry Potter novels use flashback. Remember the Pensieve that Dumbledore uses? The reader (and Harry) are transported back in time to relive the memories of Dumbledore and others.

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Tips for Using Flashbacks:

  • Use a trigger to justify taking the reader back into the past. This is the most natural way to introduce scenes from the past as this is actually how we recall memories in real life – we see something that reminds us of an event, person or detail that occurred in the past.
  • Also ensure that you use another trigger or event to bring your character (and reader) back to the present. This gives your reader clear signals as to when you are changing from past to present and present to past, in order to keep them immersed in the story, but not disorientated and confused.
  • Think of these triggers as ‘bookends’ to your flashback – they need to be there to keep this scene neat and tidy, but also shouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb (excuse the cliche).
  • Don’t overdo it. Don’t litter your narrative with multiple flashbacks, this becomes irritating and confusing for the reader, but also questions the validity of you setting your story in the present when more is actually happening in the past… If you find you are doing this often, you might want to have a think about changing when you set your story.
  • Ensure that each flashback contributes to your story in someway or another, whether it reveals something about a particular event, builds upon your characterization of the protagonist or sets up something for further down the track in the narrative – it has to propel the story forward, even though you’re looking back.

For some fantastic tips for writing successful flashbacks, check out this article at Writer’s Digest.

Via: https://writersedit.com/literary-devices-flashback

Literary Devices: How To Master Dialogue

Dialogue-cropped

This week Writer’s Blog will be exploring literary devices to help you along with your writing. Literary devices are techniques and structures writers employ to convey their message and story. When done well, the use of literary devices can alter, manipulate and challenge the way a reader perceives any work. Used masterfully, literary devices influence how a story or essay can be interpreted and analysed, as well as how much the reader enjoys the work. Today’s device is Dialogue:

How To Master Dialogue

What is dialogue?

“Dialogue is not just quotation. It is grimaces, pauses, adjustments of blouse buttons, doodles on a napkin, and crossings of legs.” – Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction

Not all of the following are used together, however, dialogue consists of four main elements:

  • Spoken words – the direct speech or the words within the quote marks.
  • Speech tags – the words that tell the reader who is speaking and how they are speaking.
  • Actions of the speaker – a description of the speaking character’s actions before, during and after speech.
  • Thoughts or emotional state of the speaker – a description of the speaking character’s emotional state before, during and after speech.

When characters start talking to each other, the story comes to life. A reader can gain a far deeper understanding of a character through their words and actions than they can from the narrative text. A couple of sentences of dialogue can reveal much about the background of a particular character. Are they wealthy or poor? What is their country of origin? Have they been well-educated? Are they feeling happy or sad? All of these questions can be answered with effective dialogue.

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What should dialogue do?

  • Reveal emotions
  • Draw the reader into the characters’ lives
  • Show the reader how the character reacts to different situations, such as pressure, intimacy, hate, love or fear
  • Move the story forward – every piece of dialogue should have a purpose
  • Hint at or tell of coming events
  • Give balance to a story after a long section of narrative
  • Increase the pace of the story
  • Contribute humour
  • Reflect the changes in emotions and lifestyle of your characters

What should dialogue not do?

  • Summarise action that could otherwise be exciting
  • Force-feed information to the reader – tell a character something they would already know, purely to fill in background to the reader
  • Act as padding to achieve a word count
  • Ramble on without the characters learning anything knew or achieving something
  • Sound exactly like real speech, with interruptions, rambling, repetitions and stutters, although these have their place

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Tips for Writing Dialogue

Remember, most people speak quite simply. If you dress up a character’s speech too much it will sound unrealistic.

“If you are using dialogue, say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.” – John Steinbeck

Better yet, grab a few friends and act it out, taking note of the speech tags and the actions of the speaker. This can be very entertaining and you’ll be able to see very quickly where your dialogue falls down.

Now over to you.

Via: https://writersedit.com/literary-devices-dialogue

Literary Devices: How To Master Prologue

 

Prologue

This week Writer’s Blog will be exploring literary devices to help you along with your writing. Literary devices are techniques and structures writers employ to convey their message and story. When done well, the use of literary devices can alter, manipulate and challenge the way a reader perceives any work. Used masterfully, literary devices influence how a story or essay can be interpreted and analysed, as well as how much the reader enjoys the work. Today’s device is Prologue:

How To Master Prologue

What’s past is prologue” – William Shakespeare

This comes from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, spoken by the character Antonio who suggests that the events of the past set the stage for the present. The quote is engraved on the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which houses the most important of the United States’ historical documents. But in a literary work, while the prologue itself precedes the beginning of the story, it can contain events of the past or the future.

What is a prologue?

The prologue serves as an introduction, giving readers important information from the past or the future about the text that follows. It may establish the setting, introduce the characters or indicate a theme or moral in the story. Generally, the prologue is short and will only cover one or two pages. Most prologues are written by the author of the work.

A prologue can foreshadow events and conflict in a way that beginning in the middle of the action can’t. It is used when material that you want to include in the opening is out of time sequence with the rest of the story, giving readers information that is otherwise unobtainable within the normal structure of the novel. A prologue must also be a vital part of the whole text, not just added on before the opening chapter for no reason.

The Redwall Series

Popular children’s author Brian Jacques used both a prologue and an epilogue to frame each story in his Redwall series. Jacques uses the prologue effectively to establish the setting and introduce readers to minor characters with a meaningful story to tell. In these opening scenes, the dialogue between the characters is intended to draw the reader in, as much as it does to the characters who are listening in the story.

The Noon Lady of Towitta

In Patricia Sumerling’s mystery, The Noon Lady of Towitta, the unusually long prologue describes the events leading to the arrival of the police on the farm at Towitta, an isolated town in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. The prologue is straight-forward and written in third person. The story that follows is told from the first person perspective of Mary Schippan, the lady suspected of murdering her younger sister. Mary Schippan could not have given readers a clear picture of the events preceding the police investigation as she was not present, so the author chooses to employ a prologue. Without it, readers don’t have the necessary background required to understand the story and so obtain it outside of the first person structure of Mary’s narrative.

The Da Vinci Code

In Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, the prologue is employed firstly to establish the plot and setting of the book. Opening at the Louvre Museum in Paris, readers are presented with an event at a specific time and place around which the entire novel is plotted. Jacques Sauniere, the curator of the museum, is shot by a mysterious man and must use his dying breaths to keep his secret alive.

A collection of the world’s most famous paintings seemed to smile down on him like old friends.” – Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

The prologue also establishes a significant theme throughout the novel – the importance of art. As he bleeds to death, Sauniere is surrounded by many famous artworks, one of which, we can assume, is Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a painting that plays a critical role in the author’s plot.

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Writing an effective prologue

The most important feature of a prologue, like any literary device, is that it serves a purpose. Check to see if your prologue is doing a job. Does it establish the setting? Does it introduce characters, or a theme, or a moral? What does it add to the whole work? If it doesn’t have a clear purpose, you don’t need it.

Tip: Read prologues written by your favourite authors

Search for prologues written by the authors on your bookshelf. They’ve been published, so you can assume that the prologue is well written and employed. Look at the length and the style of the writing. The more prologues you read, the better you will understand when and how to use them effectively, if at all.

Tip: Practice writing first lines

Essentially, if you’re using a prologue, you are starting your book twice so you’ll need two great opening lines.  It can be useful to practise writing clever opening lines, enticing the reader to continue. If you’re already working on something, ask yourself if the first line is the best it can be. Shuffle the words around. Try a selection of synonyms. Work with it and keep practising.

Tip: Write a prologue for a book that doesn’t have one

Choose a novel without a prologue and consider how one could be used. Try to find something in the text to link with your prologue – a theme, the setting, or even some additional background information. Be creative! You could give a character a secret that affects how they respond to events in the story. Don’t feel discouraged if you find that your new prologue doesn’t work – this just means that you are improving your ability to detect ineffective use of the device.

Via: https://writersedit.com/literary-devices-prologue

Literary Devices: How To Master Alternate Point of View

Points of View

This week Writer’s Blog will be exploring literary devices to help you along with your writing. Literary devices are techniques and structures writers employ to convey their message and story. When done well, the use of literary devices can alter, manipulate and challenge the way a reader perceives any work. Used masterfully, literary devices influence how a story or essay can be interpreted and analysed, as well as how much the reader enjoys the work. Today’s device is Alternate Points of View:

How To Master Alternate Point of View

Alternate Point of View (POV) is a complicated narration form, but, if done the right way, it can make for a captivating read.

This technique combines the depth of a single character’s perspective with the versatility of switching between characters. You can alternate between two characters, or several – but the more you use, the more work you will need to do.

This narration form is paired with either first person POV or limited third person POV. Most commonly, first person alternate POV switches between two characters, but there is nothing stopping you adding more if you can handle it.

You may have heard alternate POV referred to as switching POV, dual POV or multiple POV. ‘POV’ is also sometimes interchanged with ‘perspective’.

Let’s dive into what it all means and how you can use this technique…

When should I use alternate POV narration?

A good way of deciding when to use alternate POV is this: if the story doesn’t need it, stick to single perspective.

Alternate POV is still uncommon enough to distract your reader a little, and some find it frustrating. To avoid this, you want to make sure your story really needs it, and that you do it really well.

This form of narration is all about contrast. The contrast could be in personality, culture or ideology. Whatever the reason, make sure it’s key to the story. If your narrative doesn’t gain anything from each new perspective, cut it back to just one.

Alternate POV is more common in some genres than others. For example, it’s a popular choice in both YA fiction and romance.

This method allows readers to enjoy getting to know both the hero and heroine intimately by seeing their relationship through both characters’ thoughts.” Gail Gaymer Martin

It’s important to spend a little time thinking about the market and how you’d pitch your alternate POV story, even in the early stages of writing.

If you’re thinking about alternate POV for its practical use of access to different action or location points, it’s worth doing some serious work on the perspectives to make them really pop. This isn’t a narration form that blends in the background; it stands out. So you may as well make the best of its features.

Switching POV within a series

If you’re writing a series, alternate POV can be useful to change things up and sustain interest throughout multiple books.

It’s okay to shake up your pattern a bit with each book. Some series add a new character’s perspective to the mix in the second or third novel as they become more relevant to the plot. Other authors start a series as single-person perspective, and end it alternating between two or more.

As always, you must keep the story’s best interests in mind.

* * *

How to use alternate POV effectively

As we mentioned above, managing alternate POV can be a complicated task. When writing, there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure you’re using this technique as effectively as possible.

Here are a few must-dos:

Develop distinctive character voices

Particularly when using first person POV, you want your characters to have clear, distinct voices. This is probably the most important factor of alternate POV, and is a common criticism of stories using this form.

The same way dialogue is tailored to each character, so should their introspection and description of the outside world.

What’s the point of telling a story from multiple perspectives if the voices aren’t different?”- S. E. Sinkhorn

In alternate POV, character voices drive the story. Make sure your characters don’t just have strong voices, but memorable ones. Giving each character a distinctly different perspective is important to add something unique to the story and help the reader identify who they’re following.

Establish a pattern for your changing POVs

Ideally you’ll want to keep to a pattern, such as character A, then B, then A, then B and so on. Breaking out of a pattern will jar the reader. Sometimes, of course, that’s what you want. The end of Allegiant by Veronica Roth does this particularly well.

Even more important than having a pattern is deciding what POV provides the best tension for each particular moment in the story.

If you find that some chapters are just filling space so you can keep up a pattern, you might want to consider no pattern at all. Repeating the same scene in a different character’s perspective is highly unusual and not recommended, so you need to get it right the first time.

I ask myself, ‘Who has the most to lose in this situation?’ This question usually makes the best POV character obvious.”- Lisa Walker England

It’s all about reader expectations. If your story starts alternating POV in a set pattern, stick to it. But if there is no clear pattern from the start, you’ll have more freedom to choose who each scene is told through.

Outline your story well before writing

The golden tool for working out your story pattern is doing up an outline. Not only do you need to have clear plots, character arcs and climaxes for each perspective, they need to parallel each other.

Looking at the story as a whole, you should see what character perspective pattern works the most naturally with your story – if you need a pattern at all.

Mark POV switches clearly

Always have a cue when you switch character perspectives, such as the start of a chapter, scene or line break.

The last thing you want is for the reader to be confused about whose head she’s in. So make sure you give clues right away with setting and internal dialogue before you jump in.” –  Lisa Gail Green

Don’t switch too often. The minimum length to keep the same perspective is one scene. However, if your scenes are short, and you change with each scene, this can be taxing on the reader.

For stories in first person POV, switches should occur only with chapter breaks, and generally each chapter is titled after the perspective character.

When writing in third person POV, it’s good to use the perspective character’s name as soon as possible after the change.

Whether you’re writing in first or third person, make sure to go straight to the character whenever you make a switch. Scenery description can happen in a couple of sentences. Grounding the reader is your biggest priority.

* * *

Pros Of Using Alternate POV

As with any choice you make with your story, each technique has pros and cons. Here are three big pros to consider when thinking about using alternate POV.

1. It allows flexibility

Alternate POV offers a combination of depth and flexibility that is hard to find in any other form.

The plot is progressing in two or more places at once? Just switch over to the other character. You need someone to push the big red button to advance the plot, but your lead character needs to be struggling with self-doubt? You can still take your readers through the thrill of the moment inside another character’s head.

Having said this, it’s important to stick to your characters. You can’t just bring along character perspectives for the sake of convenience. But having multiple character perspectives allows you to weave a bigger, more complicated and diverse story.

2. It can help create tension

Tension is important in any story, and alternate POV has a couple of handy features that make it a little easier. Complicating a situation is one technique that can increase tension. Having different perspectives, with different opinions and worldviews all looking at the same thing, can really ramp things up.

You don’t want your readers bored, and this POV lets you shift heads and keep the reader on their toes.” – Mac Hopkins

You’re not in the one character’s head all the time. That means the reader will miss bits. And you, as the author, can deliberately conceal parts of the story or character to be revealed when you want; the tension of revealing information can be brought out whenever it suits.

3. It gives you control over pacing

With alternate POV, you have full control over your story’s pacing. The simple techniques of shortening the space between each switch can increase the pace.

At times you can put different character’s climaxes side-by-side. And other times you can splice quieter moments of one character with a character facing something more intense.

Cons Of Using Alternate POV

As with any choice regarding literary techniques, there are also a number of cons to using alternate POV. Here are three of the main disadvantages and difficulties…

1. A lot more character development is needed

A challenge with alternate POV is the amount of foundational character development you need to get started.

A single POV means you dig deep in one character. A broader POV, such as omniscient, means you can work just with characters’ external mannerisms. But in alternate POV, you need to be an expert on any and all characters you alternate between.

More POV characters means the reader has less of a connection to any one character. It’s a price that must be paid.” – Glen C. Strathy

In many ways, your characters will make or break your story. Of course, you need to pay close attention to plot and all other literary features. But your reader needs to know your perspective characters, and fall in love with them – all of them. In the same space you would use for a single POV story.

2. It can be hard to keep track of things

Just as complication can add tension, if you can’t harness the spirals of thoughts and plots, it can be a struggle to pull together a cohesive story. Alternate POV will be very difficult for anyone who isn’t used to planning, scheduling and keeping track of everything.

It’s easy to lose focus, which can lead to character voices sounding too similar, characters with incomplete arcs, or unbalanced tension across the perspective characters.

3. There’s a risk of head-hopping

Head-hopping is an easy mistake for new writers when using third person alternate POV. Head-hopping refers to changing the perspective character within a scene. If you’re alternating with chapters, it also includes accidentally changing perspective within a chapter.

When the narrator switches from one character’s thoughts to another’s too quickly, it jars the reader and breaks the intimacy with the scene’s main character.” – Joe Bunting

Mastering the switch point between perspectives is important; it will help you avoid the mistake of head-hopping when you intentionally want to switch.

You’re less likely to unintentionally slip if you focus well on the perspective character. Having clear, distinct characters will help you stay in one head.

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Examples of Multiple POV

Alternate/multiple POV has been around for a long time, but has become more common over the last several years. Reading is one of the best ways to become familiar with a writing technique or form.

Below is a list of novels with alternate POV for you to start cultivating your reading list with:

Alternate POV is an advanced and specialised literary device. But if your story calls for it, and you have a flair for character voices and planning, it can really make for a gripping novel.

Via: https://writersedit.com/literary-devices-alternate-point-view