A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Before reading any further, take the next three minutes to watch this video. Get your laugh on, then watch it again and get your learn on. Not only will you be entertained, you’re going to learn something new because afterwards, I’m going to break it down!

DATE NIGHT! -THE VIDEO

(Video via Facebook share)

Hilarious, right? It’s the typical men see things differently than women story of a date through the eyes of two very different couples. The difference? The back story. Knowing what each character is going through before, during, and after a scene helps you, the author, know what experiences should be included in a scene and how to present them.

Remember those pesky and time consuming character outlines I’m always referring to? Well, here is how they work for the characters in this short video.

THE BREAK DOWN:

COUPLE A:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

 

COUPLE B:

HER POV: Most ROMANTIC DATE EVER!

Everything about the evening was different than being with any other man. First, he paid for a cab. Dinner was an amazing experience. After, instead of hailing a cab, they took the scenic route, walking along, holding hands, and experiencing the night life from another point of view. At his place, the romance continued with lit candles to set the mood, a very intense love making session that lasted longer than anything she’d ever experienced. And the best part, he didn’t pass out when they were done. They lay there wrapped in each other’s arms and talked all night.

In a nutshell, everything was magical and perfect, just what a girl could ever want.

 His POV: EPIC FAIL!!!!

It’s been a long day full of one frustrating event after another. Failure to pay his light bill lead to to spend money taking her out instead of having her come over. After paying for a cab, dinner was so expensive he could no longer afford a taxi cab home. He plays off the whole broke thing by suggesting they ‘sight see’ and walk to his place, (is this chick gullible or what???). No electricity leaves him improvising again with candles. Frustrated by the series of mind numbing fails, he has too much pride to say let’s call it an evening and tires to play it off by ‘making love’ when what he’s really doing is stalling for time to work himself up for that magic moment. By the end of it all, he doesn’t feel like finishing the act, but he’s literally ‘in the game’ and has to figure out how to play it off, because hey, Ms. Gullible is having the time of her life. Again, frustrated, pissed off, and ready for it all to be over, he can’t sleep which means he has no choice but to be subjected to Ms. Chatty Cathy.

This date sucked so much he probably would refuse to see her ever again.

Pad of Paper & Pen

 

 

 

Now, how does all of this tie into writing?

First, let’s review the definitions of Point of View and Perspective:

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF VIEW: The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

DETERMINING USE OF POINT OF VIEW:

When telling a story, you must know which character’s voice you want the readers to experience. If the entire story is being written from one character’s POV, then it’s simple. Everything that happens comes from them. If your story is being told from more than one character’s POV, then you must decide how much of is being told and from who’s POV. This can be done in several ways:

  • An entire scene or chapter is told in one character’s POV
  • A scene or chapter is told in split POV’s
  • A section, or portion (meaning more than a few chapters in a row or Part 1, Part 2, etc. of the manuscript) are told from various characters’ POV

Knowing the story your telling (story line) and what your characters experience and how those experiences will affect their decision making (back story) determines who’s POV is shared at certain points. The character’s reactions to their environment and scenarios they face will be based on that back story.

Of the four characters portrayed in the video, the best example would be Man B from the second couple. An unfortunate event (failure to pay his light bill) led to changing his date night plans (paying for cab, expensive dinner, walking home, candle light sex, aggravation to the point of failure to perform for an extended point of time, and sleeplessness). Lack of electricity set off a catalyst of events that when told from his point of view, led to the date from hell. His POV was much more entertaining than Woman B who saw things from a fairytale perspective.

Now, how does perspective come into play?

Come back tomorrow where I’ll break down that portion of the video, as well as share a scene from my bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, where I demonstrate the use of perspective from three characters POV in one scene. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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My First Big Speaking Engagement!

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Are you an Aspiring Author or fan of The Butterfly Memoirs who resides in the Atlanta area? Well, this one is for you!

 I am pleased to announce that I am participating in the Author’s Workshop being held by The Virtuous Women, LLC and co-hosted by Barnes & Noble on August 17th where I have been asked to be the FEATURED AUTHOR! Talk about existed!!!

 But before I talk more about the event, let me give you a bit of history about The Virtuous Women, LLC.

 The organization was formed a by Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman, a Special Education Teacher for the Dekalb County School System. What started as a sisters and sister-in-law spa day quickly turned into more. The Virtuous Women, LLC is a Christian organization that looks to empower, educate, support, and help create businesses and opportunities within the community. They hold monthly meetings and events to share valuable information with the the goal of building a better community, one family and business at a time. For more information about to find out about upcoming community events, visit the website and get registered.

 The theme for this months event is The Author’s Workshop. The goal is to provide encouragement to aspiring writers who are looking to become published authors.

 Have you ever wondered what it takes to publish a book? Then this event is for you! There will be ten local authors who will be sharing their stories about why they chose to write, what motivated their project, and what challenges they overcame to see their project through to completion.

 During that time, I will have some great giveaways, and if you have purchased a paperback copy of either of my books, bring it and I will me more than happy to sign it! Got a Kindle or Nook and like to collect author signatures? I’ll sign that too! Don’t forget your cameras! For more information about the event, follow this link. I hope to see you there!

The Virtuous Women, LLC

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

 

MJ

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MJ on Writing: Viewpoint Tips and Tricks

WritingOne of the first things I learned about writing was the correct way to write a scene. After years of reading I had become accustom to what is known as ‘head hopping’. For those who may not be aware of what that is, ‘head hopping’ is where two characters point of views are shared in the same scene. This is not to be confused with conversation. I am referring to the scene starting with the heroine’s POV and then in mid scene, it switches to the hero’s POV, and back again or to another character without a change in the scene or start of a new chapter. Sound confusing? Imagine how it feels to a reader!

That style of writing is no longer accepted in manuscripts today, unless of course your one of the old school authors who were allowed to do it years ago. Chances are they haven’t been forced to change. In fact, I know they haven’t. One of my favorite romance authors who have been around for years still does it in every new book. But for the new author, agents and publishers are looking for a more polished style of writing, starting with characters whose POV’s are the only one featured in a chapter. Even if you plan to self-publish, taking these extra steps to polish your writing will make your work stand apart from the rest!

So how do you make this happen? Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you stay in one viewpoint from the beginning to end or your scene! (I write in 1st Person POV, so I will write these examples in both 1st and 3rd POV when needed.)

Make sure your reader knows who is speaking.

The easiest way to have this done is by having them addressed by name by another character in the scene. Doing this in the first few lines of the chapter will let your reader know who’s speaking:

Example:

(1st Person)

“Hey, Sara, how are you doing today?” my brother asked.

“Things could be better.” I grimaced while holding my stomach.

Or

(3rd Person)

“Hey, Sara, how are you doing today?” John asked.

“Things could be better,” she said while holding her stomach.

As mentioned above, NO HEAD HOPPING!

Doing so destroys the tension your building by staying in one character head. You know the saying, ‘the right hand can’t know what the left is doing?’ When sticking in one POV, it’s the same way. If Phil has a secret that he is trying to hide from Bob, his actions and what he says should say that to the reader, but the reader can’t know that Bob already knows that Phil is guilty.

Example:

Correct:

Phil’s eyes darted from side to side in an effort to keep from looking Bob in the eye. There was no way he would admit to eating the last slice of grandma’s apple pie. He tried his best to ignore Bob when he asked another question, and continued to stare out the kitchen window.

Incorrect:

Phil’s eyes darted from side to side in an effort to keep from looking Bob in the eye. There was no way he would admit to eating the last slice of grandma’s apple pie.

Bob knew Phil was guilty, because he refused to look at him. It didn’t matter if he answered his question or not. He was going to tell grandma.

Phil knows he’s guilty, but tries his best to hide it. If we are only in his POV, he can’t know what Bob is thinking, only assume, or in this case ignore Bob all together. What he thinks Bob knows or doesn’t know is not important. You only want to share Bob’s thoughts if/when his POV is addressed in another chapter.

Describing your character from their POV.

Every now and then it’s necessary for a character to tell the reader what they look like, what they are wearing, or describe their expressions. You have to be careful their voice does not slip into the voice of another character that may be looking at them. Try some of these tricks:

  • Have your character stand in front of a mirror and talk about what they see, but don’t be technical (and it should be relevant to the scene!)
  • Use feelings and descriptions to guide your reader into visualizing what the character is trying to say about themselves.
  • Quote another character’s thoughts about their appearance.

Example: Here’s how my character, Ebony Campbell, describe herself in the opening chapter of A Heart Not Easily Broken: (1st Person)

I smirked (facial expression) before sipping my margarita. Yasmine’s light-skinned complexion, slender ballet dancer body, long legs, and B-cup breasts suited her personality. There were times I wished my body was more like hers, though. It would make shopping for clothes a lot easier. As it was, I had been blessed with the shapely figure my Nana called ‘bootylicious’. According to her, and her photo albums, I looked just like her when she was my age, with caramel-colored skin, perfectly proportioned hips, a butt that drew major attention, and D-cup breasts, making it hard for a man to look me straight in the eye. (Opinion of others)

And last but not least, select ONE character to focus on in a scene!

In other words, don’t split up your chapter into two different points of view. Extend the scene, or shorten it, with chapter breaks instead of scene breaks. Doing so will keep the reader from missing the POV switch at the break point, because sometimes inserting *** just doesn’t do it. Doing so generally means there is a change in the scene itself, not POV.

I hope this helps! For more tips on writing, check out my page with links to previous articles on writing. Until next time, Happy Writing!

MJ

Finding Inspiration: Part Three- Characters Close to Home

Building Real Characters: How to Bring Them From the Page and Into Your HeartWriters find inspiration anywhere; at the grocery store, the bank, even the activities of driver sitting next to you at the red light, can get the muse flowing. Then of course there are my favorites: family and friends.

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you have seen the pictures posted by someone at least once a month that says: (in a nutshell): BEWARE, I’M A WRITER, ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED IN MY NEXT BOOK.  I was at the bank the other day and had a lively conversation with my banker. Upon completion of my transaction, she asked me, ‘is this going to be in one of your stories?’ I laughed and said quite possibly.

It seems no matter how hard I try; my Muse is always working, always observing and cataloging the statements and actions of others, especially when it comes to my kids.

In the last few weeks, my children have shocked me with their ‘Remember when…’ tales. Being an only child, it never ceases to amaze me what  my four kids get into when they are unsupervised in their bedrooms. First, there was the ‘broken-glow-in-the-dark-stick incident’ that led to fluorescent yellow liquid being splashed over bedroom walls. (According to them, it wore off withing minutes, thus leading to doing it again in order to illuminate the room.  No evidence was left behind. Imagine my horror!!!) Of course a lot of sibling smacks upside the head, and then the sneaking to cut hair or trim their eyebrows disasters that ended with bad results. (Those I knew about, but it still makes me laugh to remember the results.) Funny stories that made my eyebrows shoot into the hemisphere and start to give the ‘you know better’ speech. But then I realized the issues happened months, even years ago. What’s the point?  All that’s left is ‘don’t do it again.’

Once the kids go about their evening activities, my Muse sorts through the information, while not inspiration for my adult characters’ lives, they make great character back story.

***Back Story: Insight into the protagonist nature or history through reflective flashbacks, scenes, or dialogue. This information is used to show how a character will react to certain situations.***

There are various ways to use back story.  Some authors like to use flashback during a scene or as a scene to show an incident that explains the reason for their character’s actions during the course of a story. (Think about the show LOST, whose episodes focused on the back story of a character’s life, decisions, made, and how they related to the present situation). In novels, the most common use is having a character allude to their past through dialogue, thought, or peppered in by the omnipotent voice. (Dialogue is the best way to share this information without slowing down your prose and boring a reader.)

How do you know what your characters back story will be?

By writing character outlines.

If you have  followed my blog, you know a large portion of my writing begins with focusing on deep character development. I love writing characters my readers can relate to either through their own personal experiences or someone they know. Creating well-developed back story can do that. Knowing where your characters have been, what experiences have affected them – good and bad – will give your characters a strong voice that makes them stand out.

Even if it starts from when they were kids.

In a nutshell, a well-developed back story lets you know your characters. Knowing and understanding your characters will explain their motivations. Motivations are what set up a plot. Reactions to plot twists/turns are what provide scenes. Scenes mixed with reactions are what create drama.

Whew!  Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but as with all things in life, you get what you put in. Taking the time to sit down and understand your characters will show in your writing. It will help you understand why they interrupt your writing, and no matter how much you want the story to go one way, they hijack your manuscript.

For more on writing character outlines and finding writing inspiration, visit my previous posts:

M.J.’s on Writing- Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors

MJ

1st Person, 3rd Person, Omnipotent…Which One Are You?- Part 2

A few weeks ago, I shared information and examples of the three popular forms of point of view writing. If you missed it, follow this link.  
How do you know which one is best for you?
Over a year ago, when my writing journey began, my writing was all over the place as I tried to decide what POV to use. Nearly every author I read wrote in 3rd person. Some broke down each characters actions and thoughts by separating their voices with the use of chapter breaks. Others used scene breaks. Some did neither and head hopped.
 As a reader, none of the differences in their writing styles bothered me. As long as the story was good, and I was able to decipher the differences in character, I was pleased.
As a writer, I see things differently. 
Most writers, when starting out, strive to emulate the writing style of our favorite authors. Nora Roberts was my first introduction into reading romance, so I wrote the way she wrote.  What came out was what I thought of as a seamless flow of character(s), all thoughts and emotion in a scene. In other words, telling the story from the POV of all characters involved in the scene. There were no chapter breaks. There was no defining moment of a character POV changed. The scene progressed with the POV of all major characters involved.
The first book I read that used the 1st person POV was, don’t laugh, Twilight. I enjoyed getting deeper into the characters mind and seeing the story told from the way Bella saw it. Yes, it was biased and no one else’s personal opinions were understood beyond what she felt or imagined them to be, but after years of head hopping, it was refreshing. My favorite book in the series is Breaking Dawn where we were introduced to Jacob’s POV when Bella was unable to speak. Talk about exciting! ‘Hearing’ his crazy thoughts and not just being told by Bella what his actions were, we got to got to know his goals, motivations, and inner conflicts. Too bad we never got to see the same happen with Edward!
(I have no examples to offer when it comes to Omnipotent works because I can’t think of one, though I am sure over the years I have read a few. If I’m not mistaken, this form of writing is typically found in English literature. My understanding is that it is not a popular style chosen by authors today. I could be wrong, so forgive me if I am. )
It wasn’t until I attended a writer’s workshop that I truly learned how do decide what POV works for me. The instructor said this: take a scene, write it in 3rd person, then write it in 1st person. Read it aloud. How does it sound? Does if flow smoothly, does it sound rushed? Can you, the writer, identify with the character, does the voice sound natural?Which one do you feel the most comfortable writing? 
For me, it was 1st person.
Writing in 1st person allows me to experience my characters emotions and thoughts as if they were my own. With 3rd person, I feel as if I’m on the outside looking in, as if there’s a glass door allowing me to peer into my characters without knowing how they truly feel. My writing style allows me to step into the character’s skin, their clothes, and their lives. I feel their emotions as if they were my own. I taste, hear, see, smell what they experience. I become them to the point that when the scene I’m writing is a happy one, I am happy. If they are in pain or sad, I cry, literally, right along with them. At times I am so wrapped up in my writing voice that my family will walk by and as if everything is okay. It is then that I know I’ve truly channeled my characters voice. I never connected with my characters that way when using 3rd person. (can anyone say straight jacket? lol) 
I have heard many say 1st person writing should be for YA novels, not adult fiction, and definitely not romance. Why? Because 1st person stories are told from just one characters POV. If the plot is not entertaining and the supporting characters strong enough to interact with the leading character, readers can get bored, quick. My hat goes off to Janet Evanovich who seems to have mastered the single 1stperson narrative. Her Stephanie Plumb novels are highly entertaining, and her characters easy to fall in love with. The entire series is told by Stephanie Plumb alone. Her witty remarks, quick wit, mixed with the colorful cast make reading her latest exploits something to look forward too.
I found my writing style by taking the best of all my favorite authors and developing my own style of writing 1st person.
The goal of my stories is to show the depth of the heroine and the hero’s evolution as they progress through the novel. There’s no head hopping. There’s no confusion as to who’s speaking, or what they really feel. I use chapter breaks, not scene breaks to separate the two. And occasionally, when story calls for it, I introduce a third person’s viewpoint to break it up a little, but not just for the fun of it. Each character is planned and serves a purpose. My goal is that the reader is well aware of everything each of the characters have experienced throughout, good, bad, and the oh so fun in-between.
How does the publishing industry feel about the use of the various POV’s? Each genre is different, but since I write romance, I can tell you this: it’s frowned upon. During my querying process, I had an agent, who loved the story, tell me there were a few things she wanted me to change, but the biggest was switching from 1st person, to 3rdperson. Her reason, the Big Six wouldn’t take an IR/Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction story unless it was written in 3rd Person.
Wasn’t. About. To. Happen. 
The Butterfly Memoirs are about the character’s personal experiences as told by them, like a memoir. The definition of a memoir is: an account of one’s personal life and experiences; autobiography. It would not be the same written as 3rdPerson.
 Thin about it, do you write your diary in 3rd person?
I didn’t let that stop me. (By the way, a year later, as I prepared to query my manuscript, I sent it to the instructor whose writing class I took. She’s an author as well as an agent. After reviewing it, her comments were about technical issues. Never once did she say it should be changed to 3rd person).
The best advice I can give when deciding which POV to use when telling tell your story is this: learn the rules and use them. Discover which ones you can bend and bend them. Experience writing the scene from each point of view and decide which one sounds the best. Which one allowed you to channel your character the most? Then, tell the story the way you want it to be told. If it’s a little outside the box because you don’t want it to be the norm, go for it. Believe me, there are readers out there who feel the same way and will be happy to see support you.
My novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, will be available September 20th. If you haven’t yet, read the first chapter. After that, grab a copy and see how the use of 1st person has worked for me!
Until the next time, Happy Writing!
MJ

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1st Person, 3rd Person, Omnipotent…Which One Are You?- Part 1

Deciding on the correct Point of View (POV) for your manuscript can be tricky.
One of the best analogies I’ve heard refereed to POV as the ‘camera’ in motion that shows the reader what is going on.

Who’s camera will you use?    

Do you stick with the traditional one person  POV and use the hero or heroine’s eyes? Do you allow more than one character to tell the story and see it from multiple angles? Or do you take on the role of narrator and tell the story from a distance allowing the reader to be privy to events the characters are unaware off?

And when you decide which character(s) have the spotlight, is their voice in 1st person, 3rd person, or omnipotent?
What are the definitions of each POV?

To learn more about each POV, visit the links to read more on About.com, Fiction Writing.

This point of view is from one character which serves as the narrator. Use of the words “I” or “we” distinguish this voice. It allows the readers to “see” and “feel” what this character sees and feels because you’re in that character’s head. 
This point of view allows for more than one character to tell the story. This is the most common form used in writing. Use of the words “he” or “she” distinguish this voice.
This point of view has a god-like quality because the narrator has knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in a story.  It can become confusing since at anytime the reader can find themselves in the  POV of any character in the scene. If used, each individual voice should have separate scenes to avoid confusion.  Use of the words “he” or “she” are still used. 
Choosing which POV you use will change the voice of your characters and determine your writing style. My personal preference is to write in 1st person. I chose that POV for the voice of my characters for two reasons. First, my series is titled, The Butterfly Memoirs, which symbolizes the evolution of the characters as the book progresses. Since it is their story, or memoir, I wanted their voice to be clearly heard during the course of the events. My original manuscript was written in 3rd, but I found it impossible to portray thoughts and emotions to the depth I wanted without using the words “I” and “me”.
As an example of the differences in the POV voices, I will demonstrate with the opening lines of A Heart Not Easily Broken:  

In 3rd person: 

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” Ebony Campbell stated, a hint of irritation in her voice.
“Oh, please,” Yasmine, her best friend and roommate, leaned over and yelled.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” Yasmine added, winking at the bartender who handed them their drinks.
No matter how many times Ebony adjusted the hem of her dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of her thighs as people pushed past her in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep her shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.

That was a simple change of pronouns: “I” to “Ebony”, and “me” to “her”, with a few additional action tags. I am so used to writing from ‘inside’ of the characters head that I had to change my mindset to make it work!

Now, here’s the same scene in Omnipotent:

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” Ebony Campbell said. Her irritation was evident in her voice.
“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, who was her best friend and roommate, had to lean over and yell.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible for them to hear each another.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” Yasmine winked at the bartender who handed them their drinks. She really wished her friend would shut up and get with the program. 
No matter how many times Ebony adjusted the hem of her dress, knowing she would never be able to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of her thighs as people pushed past her in the crowded bar. She knew it would take more fabric to keep her shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.
I’ll be the first to admit that this point of view can be confusing! What was the difference? The use of pronouns was the same, “she”, “they”, except now the ‘voice’ is not just from Ebony’s POV. Yasmine’s thoughts/action would only be mentioned as an observation by Ebony if it was written in 1st or 3rd person. The POV character of the scene (Ebony) would have no clue that Yasmine was irritated by her comments…unless this was paranormal then she could be psychic and read her mind…..see what I mean? Confusing! 

Now here is the exact same scene in 1st person:

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” (No action tag needed. Her voice automatically tells you her mood)
“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, my best friend and roommate, yelled in my ear.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” she added, winking at the bartender who handed us our drinks.
No matter how many times adjusted the hem of my dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of my thighs as people pushed past me in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep my shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.



Can you see the difference? None of the POV’s were better than the other, it’s all in how you want to tell the story and what voice you give your characters. 

How do you know which one is best for you? How does the publishing industry view writing in those POV’s?

Be on the look out for part two of the series where I will share a few more facts about the difference in point of view!

MJ

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