#AuthorToolboxBloghop: Deep POV

So, back when I was a wee writer, before this blog was even made and all my posts were on Tumblr, I talked about deep point of view. Pretty much everything I say in that post still holds true. Thought Verbs and Three Easy Steps to Deep POV are still two articles that are invaluable to developing an understanding of deep POV.

But to really get deep POV, we need to go deeper. (ba dum, tss)

Let’s start with what deep POV is. Deep POV is drawing as close to your POV character as you can to give the reader the most immersive experience possible. And wording it like that makes it sound like some magic trick, but that’s what the goal is. You want to create as little wall between your character and your reader. Yes this can work in both third person and first person. No you don’t automatically achieve this by writing in first person. It’s something you consciously do. Unless you’re McTalentpants and already do it.

Now, on the surface level, look at the words you’re using. I used to scoff at filler words. I thought that pretty little roses emerged from my butt as I plopped out new words and that since the sentence I crafted sounded right to me, that it was fine.

As you can guess, I was wrong.

To create as deep an immersion as possible, there are filler words that create distance between your prose and the reader. When you’re thinking throughout the day, do you ever think, “I thought,” “I said,” “I wondered?” No, you just do the thing. And by cutting these words, you enable more room for characterization, world-building, and movement–especially with things like dialog tags. (Watch a movie. Does anyone ever stay still while talking? Your scenes shouldn’t stagnate throughout a conversation, either.) If you want to go all out, here are a couple of giant lists to cut all the filler words. This is my personal list that I always start with:

was, is, even, see, hear, feel, think, just, very, up, down, seem(s), then, that, now, wonder, notice, begins, starts, get, walk, try, only, like, as if, of, really, forward, backward, had, find

Obviously, change tense if you’re in past/present/future/whatever. A couple of other things to watch out for that break reader’s immersion are scene breaks, and italicized thoughts in third person (you shouldn’t be using them in first, period–you’re already narrating from their head, unless you’re implying they never actually think). They’re meant to be used, but with purpose.

All right, now for the part that I didn’t mention in my previous post, and that the posts I link to don’t touch. Let’s go… deeper.

(Please don’t hurt me, I just like puns.)

Every sentence should be infused with your character’s voice. I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but rarely have I seen any practical applications of it. Yes, obviously make sure the word choice fits what your character would say. But that doesn’t make it sound like it’s coming from your character’s head.

I swear I’m not all ~hoity toity~ and ~special~ here. Just listing things in a character’s dialog makes it stiff. You might as well be playing a videogame (which I love and have worked in the medium before, but the immersion is different) rather than reading a book. For example, let’s take some action, since that’s the sort of scene that falls into this trap the hardest. I normally sigh when people put in excerpts of their own words as examples, but bear with me:

I kick, and he blocks. I raise my fist again, but he’s faster and gets in the next blow, knocking me down.

It gets the point across. There isn’t much voice, but it’s action, right?

You can do better.

You’re in this character’s head. There’s adrenaline and pain and emotion running through this character’s brain. Every scene, every sentence should have senses, and should have thought. I don’t care about a character that doesn’t care, that doesn’t think–most readers don’t. So you should be using every opportunity you can to show this. Bear with me again as I try to show you what I mean; let’s twist this two different ways.

Sweat drips, stinging in my eyes as I throw my foot forward. He blocks easily, wide grin visible despite my blurred vision. Breath ragged, muscles screaming, jab my fist at his gut–but he blocks it. Again. How am I supposed to prove myself against him? He’s what they say he is: indestructible. His knuckles meet my cheek, the taste and smell of iron flooding my senses. I’m on the ground before I can register falling, dirt caking against my face.

And for a different perspective:

Energy sparks through my body as I kick out–but she catches it. She’s bruised, bloody, half-broken, but she managed to block me. Me. Fire rolls through my veins and I swing, faster than anyone could block.

And yet she knocks my blow off course, nearly keeling over with the force of the blow.

Screw her. Screw this girl who thinks she’s better than me, who thought–

She moves, no flinching for all her wounds, no hesitation as she strikes her fist to my head. Nothing I can do before my world goes black.

Apologies for my trash writing. Now, the same series of events happen in both scenes. In one someone’s winning, in the other someone’s losing, hopefully that’s pretty obvious. Now go back and consider that first excerpt. The you get a sense of character through it? But you get any emotion? Any thoughts? I don’t. If we can’t even tell who’s winning, I say that’s a pretty crappy action scene.

I know this is rather nebulous, and it’s hard for me to give you direct advice without seeing your words first. but it’s important, vitally important. Most stories are character driven, and your character can’t drive anything if they aren’t thinking and feeling. So I want you to look at your work, scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, and ask yourself what your character thinks and feels about what’s happening. Is it conveyed in the text, or is it in your head? Be sure you’re combining thinking and action–there are a million reasons behind a smile, but unless you specify that your character is forcing that smile to hide their doubt, or genuinely smiling because they love something, I have no way of knowing. Show me.

Deep POV is all about that immersion, getting your reader as close to the story and the character as possible so they’re invested and right there smack-dab in the story–no matter how uncomfortable it is, or how much more painful it makes the plot twists. The more emotion, the better.

Bacon, out.

P.S. Make sure to check out the other posts on the #AuthorToolboxBloghop!

Weekend WIP: A Little Bit of Broadtrip

Since I’m jumping back into drafting, when I saw the #8sunday bloghop on Weekend Writing Warriors (check out the rest of the authors on the hop!), it seemed like perfect motivation to keep me going. I’ll be posting a few sentences from whatever I’m working on to keep me accountable, and show you guys what I’m up to.

This week, here’s the opening sentences to Broadtrip (bro-roadtip or broad-trip, either words–and yes, it needs a better name):

People always warn not to get involved with wild serpents.

Thing is, those people have obviously never met me.

A black streak floats lazily in the distance, a serpent sunning itself. I’ve never seen a black serpent. The serpents at home range from all sorts of blues and greens — like mine, Nuci, pale green scales with deep blue stripes — and wild ones are sometimes paler, the color of sand and seafoam. But never black.

Which means I have to have it.

I pat Nuci’s side twice, and they slide quietly down into the water, me clinging tight to their back. The thing with wild serpents is that they will always see you coming from the side. It took about a dozen attempts to find their weakness — not like I’ve ever really succeeded in getting on one, per say, but this time is going to be different.

So, what do you think? What are you working on this weekend—writing or otherwise? If you have your own excerpt, feel free to share so I can check it out!

Bacon, out.

Bacon Typos: Round 1!

If you’re following me anywhere other than here, you might have seen me messing with my latest project: bringing my infamous typos into graphic format! I won’t won’t waste your time rambling about it, check it out!!!

 

So, what do you think? Good idea? Terrible idea? Only do the text? Do a monthly round up? Weekly? I don’t want to spam you guys with something dumb that doesn’t at least make you smile. But if you do like it, feel free to reblog the photoset on Tumblr, or check out the Pinterest board!

(In other slightly related news, I have an instagram account! Give me a follow so I can follow you guys back!)

Hope you guys are having a great June so far.

Bacon, out.

Bus

Author Toolbox: Plotter Shmotter, Pantser Plantser

If you’ve been in the writing community for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of plotters and pantsers — people who plot their stories before they write them, and people who write by the seat of their pants.

Thing is, from talking to a lot of writers, it seems like everyone does a mix of things. This pantser outlines a little in advance as they go, or has a short list of major plot points when they start writing. A plotter may use a super loose outline, or knows that nearly everything on it will change by the end. So though most people pick sides like some odd writing sports team, it almost seems like they’re nonexistent.

What I have noticed, though, is that a lot of people who identify as pantsers end up spending a lot of time revising, and tend to enjoy it. And a lot of outliners take their time to create highly polished first drafts and avoid tedious revision they dislike. So, instead of pantsers vs. plotters struggling in an age-old writerly battle, I think something more accurate might be drafters and revisers.

How about you? Do you think you’re a drafter or a reviser? Or do you think I’m totally wrong, and you’re a pantser or a plotter?

Also, be sure to check out more writing advice the rest of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop!

Bacon, out.

Author Toolbox: The Mythical Existence of Writer’s Block

Writer’s block debates seem to come in waves. Lots of arguing about the existence of this apparently mythical psychological state that always ends up bringing out this statement: It doesn’t exist, only weak writers give in to writer’s block!

That one makes me want to scream.

Whether or not you call it writer’s block, I claim it does exist. And I’d go so far to say this mythical beast comes in different breeds:

  • Inadequacy – This is the kind of writer’s block you push through. “But my words suck, but no one cares, but, but, but!” No buts. Or butts, please. Only words. (If your words include butts, they count.) This beast may look big and scary, but is the easiest to conquer—you just have to face it first. This article has a a lot of good advice for knocking this one out.
  • Stuck – This is a toss-up. For me, personally, I need to write through it, because I normally find where I need to go by forcing the absolute worst thing to happen (setting people on fire is a favorite). Some people need to stop, sit, and plot, though. For others, this means they need to go back and edit. Learn how you work, and don’t let this one stop you—even if you aren’t writing words, keep moving forward. This beast is a little grisly, but may end up being an ally in the end. Maggie Stiefvater just posted a great graphic (and another version) of navigating the twists and turns of this battle.
  • Emotional Constipation – Oh, this writer’s block. This is the one that knocks you off your feet when your personal life explodes, or the publishing industry destroys you. It would be so nice if writing could only be a work of love, some magical process that’s entirely rainbows and unicorn poop and catharsis. But, if you’re like me, the greatest reward to writing is having others reading your work. Which adds that lovely, stifling expectation to every word you write. And of course any additional stressors in your life love to add on to it. For this one, I have no answer on how to get right through it. This is the one I feel is the most mythical, evil being of them all, gross and rotting and dripping and oozing with doubt and insecurities. You can try stabbing and punching and screaming at this one, but sometimes it refuses to move off your words, hoarding them just out of reach. And that’s okay. You’re a human (I assume). Sometimes you need to take a break and re-focus, re-charge. Then come back and stab that sucker through the eye socket.

What about you guys? Do you believe in the fabled create called writer’s block? Do you think my list needs to be longer? Wanna share your battle scars?

Also, be sure to check out more writing advice the rest of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop!

Bacon, out.

I Have a Book in the World!

Long time, no post!

Like the title says, as of last Friday, I have a book in the world!!! Well, a graphic novel/illustrated urban fantasy for adults, but it still exists and is buyable. It’s a project that I’ve been working on with my wonderful editor Villipede Press for about three and a half years of uncertainty and progress, and it’s insane to think that after all that time people can hold this book I wrote in their hands—it’s insane that anything of mine ever got published! Anyhow, if you’d like to check it out, it’s up on Goodreads and Amazon, and here’s some more info:

Sacrifices of Shadow is a graphic novel in the vein of dark urban fantasy, written by K. Kazul Wolf and illustrated by Matt Edginton. Anya is on her way to visit her mother when she comes upon a strange man lying in the road. It’s the middle of the night, pouring rain, and through the headlights it looks like something has just tried to tear this guy to pieces. He asks if she has a weapon on her, and before she can scoff or run back to the safety of her truck, something large begins to growl behind her…

Anya finds herself drawn into an eldritch world where hellish hounds stalk the between-worlds, magic-infused firearms are bought and traded, and shadowy entities in human guise appear to be eerily common.

sos-front-cover-d_web

I also have plans for blog-ish stuff in the future, but for now I’m just going to bask in the internal screaming that is this book existing. :D

Bacon, out.

Bus

 

Knowledgeable

{}

My brain can beat out an encyclopedia.

But I can’t beat out you.

It’s not that you’re better than me, really. I can ask any question that comes into my mind and you only know the answers to a fraction of them. Normally I’d consider that a win on my case, but not today. Not staring into your dark eyes, your gaze shaking my very bones as you take me in.

The fact is you know things that I could never comprehend. Things I didn’t even know existed. I feel like all the knowledge I have is so small, meaningless, useless.

I can’t be certain though.

Nothing in this universe can be certain anymore. There’s no reading your mind like you might be able to read mine. You destroyed who I am as a person. Every single tick and habit I have is changing, mutating. Your existence cancels out mine. I don’t know how much longer I’ll survive.

After all, who can expect to know how long one will live during an alien abduction?

{x}

 

Prepared

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“Prepared” is what they said I was. They couldn’t train me any more for this moment than they already had.

I’m calling bull.

Princesses are supposed to be captured by dragons. Not disgusting, smelly, mechanical ogres. Uhg.

“Princess,” one creaks, reaching a hand out toward me.  “This can either be easy or hard, you —”

I kick out a leg, jamming it into their arm and sending them flat onto the ground.

“That was totally unfair and mean of you to kidnap me.” I cross my arms. “Apologize. Or else.”Read More »

Silver

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“Silver doesn’t kill werewolves, they’re allergic it.” I sigh and lean against the counter. Same spiel, different day.

“Young man, I will have you know that I’ve killed two dozen werewolves with silver.” The tiny little old lady waves her silver-tipped parasol in my face.

I eye the tip, going slightly cross-eyed before shaking my head and re-focusing. “And they got all puffy when they died?”

“Of course they did!” She old crone’s voice reaches a pitch I’m surprised hasn’t cracked the jars lining my shelves. “It’s a part of the process! Not simple allergies. I guarantee you I’ve seen more of their dead bodies than you have, boy.”

“It is a part of the process, yes.” The allergic reaction process. I suppose it does commonly end in their death, but I’ve met a couple of werewolves that are immune. It isn’t true magic, like the transformation process itself.

I gently slide a paper bag across the corner toward her. “Will silver bullets be all you need today?”

Read More »

An Interview of Sorts with Hayley Stone

Today I have Hayley Stone (author of MACHINATIONS and its sequel, COUNTERPART) on the blog, delving into the dragon’s den to answer some questions that may or may not be a little random and/or crazy.

Let’s get into the guts of it, shall we?

What’s the weirdest place you’ve written about?

In a trunked zombie YA novel, I wrote about a hedonistic club for the infected (those who would transform into zombies shortly) where entry required showing your bite mark. Inside, there were also zombies in dancer cages suspended from the ceiling and a lot of nasty stuff going on.

It sounds bizarre, but it was supposed to be based off of the crazy parties European nobility had during the black death, their one last huzzah before the end. In hindsight, I’m not even sure that actually happened, historically speaking. I think I was confusing history with an Edgar Allen Poe story, but anyway. It was pretty weird.

What’s your favorite word?

This is going to sound weird, but I really like the word blood. There is something visceral about it that I think calls back to its very definition, as being something intrinsic to the human body. It’s also amenable to metaphor, and always stands out in a sentence. Kind of like the word sex. (I bet your eyes sprang to it just now, right?)

Favorite writing snack?

Honestly, I don’t typically snack and write at the same time. I’m more likely to be drinking something—water, chai tea, or Coke.

If you could have lunch with one of your characters, which one, where would you go, and what would you order?

Oh, I’d definitely have lunch with Rhona. Probably somewhere casual with burgers, because it’s been years since she’s had fast food and would probably appreciate that. I think I’d also like to take her somewhere bustling with people—a reminder of the world she’s fighting to return to in her universe.

If you got sucked into a wormhole through time and space, what time/place would you HOPE to end up on the other side?

As tempting as it would be to go into the past, the idea of being stranded there is not appealing in the slightest. I’d hope the wormhole would deposit me in a bright, exciting future where mankind has colonized

What (artificially intelligent) kitchen appliance would you most want as your sidekick during a robot apocalypse?

My instinct was to say a KitchenAid, because you could probably fit all sorts of weapon attachments onto it, and it could also bludgeon someone to death. But I’m not sure how it would get around its lack of mobility—the thing is so heavy!

So maybe a hand mixer instead? A hand mixer of death!!!

If you were a dragon, what would you collect and guard in your hoard?

Books. Oh, wait… *glances at huge TBR collection*

Leaving aside all forms of literature, I’d probably collect Funko Pops. Those things are adorable.

What kind of apocalypse would you MOST want to see/experience end the world?

Zombie apocalypse, no question. First, I think The Walking Dead’s portrayal is entirely too cynical; I believe people would band together fairly quickly, reestablishing society to protect themselves. Second, I already judge buildings for their ability to withstand a zombie horde, so I think I’d do all right.

This may come as a surprise, but robot apocalypse actually comes in third on my list, right after alien invasion. Because ALIENS.

What kind of apocalypse would you LEAST want to see/experience end the world?

A global epidemic of some kind. I hate being sick—plus I’m a slight hypochondriac—so even if I wasn’t infected, I would probably worry about it 24/7 and complain that I’m dying at least once a day.

 

HAYLEY STONE

hayley-stone_author-photo_1-resizeHayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as a graphic designer, falls in love with videogame characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento. Counterpart is her second novel, and a choice for Amazon’s Best Sci-fi and Fantasy Books of the Month for October.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest

 

COUNTERPART

counterpart_stoneThe high-intensity sci-fi thriller series that began with Machinations continues as reincarnated insurgent Rhona Long faces off against the one enemy she can’t outwit: her own clone.

The machines believed their extermination of the human race would be over as quickly as it began. They were wrong. As the war against extinction intensifies, people are beginning to gain the upper hand.

Commander Rhona Long understands survival better than most. Killed in combat, she was brought back to life using her DNA, and she’s forged a new, even more powerful identity. Now the leader of the resistance, she’s determined to ensure the machines are shut down for good.

But victory is elusive. The machines have a new technology designed to overcome humanity’s most advanced weaponry. Despite Rhona’s peacekeeping efforts, former nations are feuding over resources as old power struggles resurface. Worse, someone inside the resistance is sabotaging the human cause—someone who, from all appearances, seems to be Rhona . . . or her exact replica.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

 

There you have it! Awesome words from an awesome author. Now go check out her impossibly more awesome books.

Bacon, out.

Bus