Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Thanksgiving Exercise 4

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Devin and I think writing outside of your story really helps improve your writing. We thought we’d change up the routine this week for Thanksgiving and show our thanks to our readers by offering short exercises to improve your craft.



Today’s Thanksgiving Exercise is on point of view. A lot of people think the trick to PoV is choosing between three options: first, second, and third. Guess what? Not true! After you pick that, you’ve got to choose between the level of penetration or how much you want readers to be inside your viewpoint character’s head.

So, how can you make the best decision for your PoV? The best example is to think about all of your options. Would your story be better told by this character or this one? Would it be better in first or third? Would your viewpoint character be more sympathetic with an objective or subjective standpoint?

Well, the best way to find out is to learn how to write from all of it.

Here’s the exercise:

1. Research. I know this isn’t school, but the best idea when you don’t know something is to learn about it! You need to know all of your point of view options in order to make the right choice about it for your book. Start with our easy descriptions of omniscient, limited omniscient, subjective, objective, and detached.

2. Pick from one of these two situations. Situation one: Two characters are looking for a turkey for dinner at the store. They both just watched a film on animal cruelty the week before. Situation two: One of your characters leaves the store, arms full of bags for Thanksgiving, and slips on the ice. Your character gets up to look around and notices another one of your characters watching with interest.

Create new characters from any of your other stories or WiPs for this task  to exercise your imagination!

Here’s the writing part:

3. Write the situation you choose while narrating their thoughts and feelings without using dialogue (you can use a maximum of 7 lines of dialogue). You must convey the situation in three different ways. First, write it from single character subjective from the first character’s point of view (in first or third person). Next, write it in single character subjective from the second character’s point of view (in first or third person). Write the last one in objective PoV or omniscient PoV.

Take only half-an-hour to an hour to complete each version. They don’t need to be complete, they don’t need to be fancy; they just need to be there. Compare each version and decide whose point of view tells the story better. This task will show you how many choices you can make for telling your story 🙂

Feel free to post your exercises on your blogs or in the comments! I’d love to read what you come up with 🙂

I'm a freak for using this, but it sparkles! And is therefore awesome!


Written by Jessica Lei

November 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm

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