Bryan Davis Interview and Point of View

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One of the reasons I wanted to attend the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference was because I love to write young adult novels and Bryan Davis teaches a teen writing track that I really enjoy. He knows how to teach writing without making his students feel intimidated. They share their work on the overhead projector and Mr. Davis leads discussion on what’s good, what needs improvement, and how to make it better.

Not only do I learn in his classes, I observe what an awesome mentor and teacher he is to teen writers, which has helped teach me how to connect with teen writers in my community. 

Teens flock to Mr. Davis and his books, and they love dragons. I mean, they LOVE dragons.

A few years ago, the first time I sat in on one of his classes, we were brainstorming conflict in a student’s wip, and I suggested that someone could shoot an arrow at the dragon. The teens turned to me with squinted eyes as if they were going to throw me out of the class on my ear. “Hey, it’s fiction. I wouldn’t do this in real life.” It didn’t matter. Their expressions didn’t change. Needless to say, I won’t do that again. 

Today, I’m going to share both the audio interview I did and Bryan’s lecture on point-of-view. I hope you enjoy both and find them helpful. Bryan is an amazing author.

Here are a few questions I asked Bryan:

  • What is your final editing stage like?
  • What is “Project R”?
  • What did you do with your first royalty check?
  • What do you want to share with parents who are concerned about their children reading fantasy?
  • How many times do you edit your novels?
  • Who’s your chief editor?
  • How long does it take you to write a book?
  • Which book have you written that women prefer?
  • How many books do you write in a year?
  • What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?
  • How do you keep all the facts about your series books together without forgetting the rules?

To hear my interview of Bryan, click on the ZOOM below:

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Bryan’s author blog click HERE. Please stop by and thank him for sharing his expertise with us today.

Point of View

Point of view (POV) is how you show your story to the reader. What perspective does the reader have? Do you tell the story as if you are a narrator (omniscient POV)? Do you tell the story from the perspective of a particular character (third person POV)? Do you allow the character himself to tell the story (first person POV)?

For example, if you want to give to someone a description of a zoo, you would guide the person from exhibit to exhibit and describe the characteristics of each animal. You would tell about the animal’s habits, native environment, and facts about the species even the animal doesn’t know. This is similar to the omniscient point of view.

If you were to strap a mind-reading camera helmet on a gorilla and then describe the images that come through the device, including the gorilla’s thoughts about himself and other zoo dwellers, that would be similar to third person POV.

If you were to allow the gorilla himself to tell his own story as he goes through it, that would be similar to first-person POV.

Omniscient POV

• The narrator POV. The scene can describe anything at any place, whether the characters in the scene are aware of the details or not.

• The writer employs third-person pronouns (he, she, it, they, them) for all characters.

• Omniscient POV can offer a panoramic sweep of scenes and events that are not narrowed to a particular person’s POV.

• The writing can describe what anyone in the scene or outside the scene is thinking at any given time. Yet, this must be done without head hopping. More on that soon.

• Omniscient POV has the disadvantage of distancing the reader from feeling “inside” the story.

Omniscient POV Example

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
 
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever. (A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens)

Omniscient POV Example

Han didn’t know Greedo’s gun was just a toy, so the ugly-as-a-sucker- fish bounty hunter couldn’t have shot first even if he had wanted to.

Third Person (limited) POV

• The character POV. The writing can describe only what the scene’s POV character sees, hears, smells, touches, or knows about. It is often called “limited” because the reader is limited to this character’s senses throughout the scene. Also, the character would not consider details he or she is already familiar with, like the color of his own hair or his own last name.

This POV is called third person, because the pronouns for the focal character are third-person (he, she, it, they, them). The POV character goes by his name or by the “he” pronoun.

• This POV allows readers to become intimately acquainted with multiple characters if the author switches POV among those characters. Every switch, however, risks confusion and takes away from the closest possible intimacy with a single character. This POV is considered a compromise between the freedom of omniscient POV and the intimacy of first-person POV.

• The POV character can deduce what other characters are thinking or what their motivations are, but the POV character cannot know for certain.

• Write an entire scene from the same character’s point of view. You may switch to another character in the next scene. If a mid-scene switch is absolutely necessary, then show the break with white space or a symbol. If essential mid-scene switches become too common, then consider omniscient POV.

Establish POV Character Immediately At the Beginning of a Scene

Adrian dropped to his knees and laid Marcelle on the ground. As he panted, cold air swirled, and light drizzle added wetness to his sweat- drenched tunic. Wallace and Shellinda, their sleeves now covering their arms, plopped down beside him. Both tilted their heads upward and opened their mouths to catch the tiny drops and quench their thirsts.
 
“Take your time and get as much as you can,” Adrian said. “We’ll rest here awhile.”
 
Wallace laid the sword on the ground. “Want me to carry her? You need a break.”
 
Adrian rubbed an aching bicep. As he pressed a thumb deeply into the muscle, it loosened a bit, enough to ease the pain. “I’ll be all right. Thanks anyway.”

Third-Person POV Example (Dunwoody is the POV character)

Issachar rose from his chair. “How may I help you, young lady?”
 
She curtsied in a graceful manner, her calf-length skirt sweeping the floor. “I am Sophia Halstead, daughter of the woman who burned at the stake a number of years ago.”
 
Issachar gave Dunwoody a quick glance before returning his gaze to Sophia. “I remember it well. A tragic injustice. I assure you that I personally opposed the execution.”
 
“Murder, if you’ll pardon me, sir.”
 
“I will gladly pardon that correction. Your term is the more accurate.” Issachar cleared his throat. “Again, what may I do for you?”
As Sophia wrung her hands, apparently trying to summon courage to speak again, Dunwoody studied her eyes. They appeared to be clouded, not quite focused, and her expression took on the aspect of fear, like a waif who had been threatened or bullied. This was not a woman who had come on her own accord.

First Person POV

• The character/narrator POV. The writing can describe only what the single main character sees, hears, smells, touches, or knows about. Like third- person limited POV, this option is also limited to the character’s senses. He or she would not take note of details that are routine or very familiar.

It’s called first person, because the pronouns for the focal character are first-person (I, me, us, our). The POV character refers to himself as “I”.

• The author writes the entire story from the narrator/character’s perspective. There are variations on this, such as multiple first-person characters, but if you need multiple POV’s, then it might be better to use third person POV.

• This POV allows readers to get to know the narrator character intimately.

• This POV limits the readers’ perspective by not allowing them to get to know other characters directly.

Which POV Should You Use?

• Do you want readers to feel close and intimate with the characters? If so, don’t use omniscient POV. Consider either first-person or third-person POV.

• Do you want to switch perspectives during the story but still allow the reader to have an intimate view of the characters? If so, use third-person POV.

• Is a single character interesting enough to stay in that person’s perspective throughout the entire story? Then consider first-person POV.

• Do you want to create a feeling of separation from the scenes and events, as if the reader would be an observer rather than a participant? Then consider omniscient POV.

Avoid Head Hopping Even in Omniscient POV

“Want some buttermilk?” July asked, going to the crock.

“No, sir,” Joe said. He hated buttermilk, but July loved it so that he always asked anyway.

“You ask him that every night,” Elmira said from the edge of the loft. It irritated her that July came home and did exactly the same things day after day.

“Stop asking him,” she said sharply. “Let him get his own buttermilk if he wants any. It’s been four months now and he ain’t drunk a drop— looks like you’d let it go.“

She spoke with a heat that surprised July. Elmira could get angry about almost anything, it seemed. Why would it matter if he invited the boy to have a drink of buttermilk? All he had to do was say no, which he had. (Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove)

Find the POV Errors Assume Third Person Limited POV

Gordon Garrison slammed the engine throttle forward. Move, you old slime bucket, move! No time to lose. Those scow crows would swarm the ship in mere seconds.

“Here they come!” Maggie adjusted the rear-scope viewer. “What should I do?”

He threw a lightning slingshot into her lap. “The energy bolts are in the weapons cabinet. Five or six ought to do it.”

She picked up the strange weapon and stared at it—just a forked metal rod and an elastic band with embedded metal fragments. It wouldn’t be too hard to figure it out. “How do I get to the vultures?”

“Put on a helmet, strap in at the air lock, and open the hatch.” He looked into her frightened eyes. “Stay calm, and hold your breath while you’re shooting. No one would survive breathing back there anyway.”

“Got it.” Maggie pulled back her wavy blonde hair and tied it in a band. She had asked for a dangerous adventure, and now it waited just seconds away. If only she could calm her nerves, maybe she could enjoy it.

Find the POV Errors Assume Third Person Limited POV

Maggie connected her belt hook to the iron ring, set her feet, and touched the hatch button. This had better work. Getting thrashed in a vacuum suction while shooting at carrion feeders wasn’t exactly her idea of warrior duty.

After taking a deep breath and holding it, she pushed the button. The rear hatch opened slowly, looking like a pair of jaws with jagged teeth stretching into a yawn.

A crow slapped one of its solar wings against the gap. Maggie’s eyes shot open, and her cheeks turned red. It was now or never.

She wrapped a sizzling energy bolt into the metallic band, stretched it back, and let it go. It zoomed through the opening and out of sight. It slammed into one of the crows and burned its wing, making it fly in a wobbly orbit around the scow.

 WHICH POV DO YOU PREFER TO WRITE IN AND WHY?

 

Here is a random Amazon review of Bryan’s RAISING DRAGONS:

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Below are a few of Bryan’s books. To view his entire collection and read what he’s currently working on click HERE.

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Comments

  1. Azaria says:

    Hey, great post!
    I like writing in first person, because I like to picture myself inside of my character, and feel what he/she feels. It is much more interesting and believable if you want to show their thoughts. Although I like reading from both first and third person and omniscient POV.
    God Bless!
    Azaria

    • Hi Azaria–
      I’m with you. I like writing in first person, especially my YA. But to distinguish between two voices I often use multiple POV’s. One character, my villain, is in first person. My other characters are in third person. It’s fun to mix it up because it’s a challenge to keep it straight. I really like reading in different POV’s because it helps me learn. What about second person? That’s a pov I don’t think I could write well. I’d need much more practice. Have you tried it?
      M

  2. I’ve seen second person done effectively in a piece about anorexia. It was very remote–first person in the mind of someone who can’t admit her true feelings. (You walk down the stairs to the party. You can smell the pizza. The grease makes you queasy. Everyone is looking at you like they’re wondering if you’re going to eat it or not.)

    As a reader I used to hate first person because it is so easy to fall into telling and explaining (as you would at the dinner table after an interesting day). Now that I have learned to show instead of tell, I like the deeper insights into my character that first person gives me–and hopefully the reader.

    • Hi LeAnne–I thought I had responded to this and just now realized I hadn’t. Sorry about that. I love your example about first person and the girl with anorexia. And I TOTALLY agree about how difficult it is NOT to fall into the telling trap with first person. I think teens like to read YA in first person, don’t you? That’s what I prefer for my YA but I like to switch to third person with my “guy” in the story to keep them separate in my mind and the readers, but it remains to be seen if teens feel the same way. My beta readers seemed to like it though. What helped you learn the showing versus telling in first person? Was it a book? An editor? Just curious. Thanks for commenting here!
      M

  3. Great and thorough article! I personally don’t like to read too many POVs in one book…maybe I’m simple minded. But they are harder to keep track of. Even with 2 POVs, I have to do a mental shift with each chapter or whatever, instead of settling in with just one MC. I used to write all in 3rd person, until my agent “made me” try first person for more immediacy and less distance for my YA novel. It made a ton of diff! and I soon learned it was more than changing the pronouns from “she” to “I.” LOL It does solve that awkward pronoun confusion though if you have another “she” in the scene!

    • Hi Carol – Good to “see” you here. It’s fun trying to switch POV’s but wow, it’s a lot of work, isn’t it? And time-consuming! Good for you for trying first. I worry I’m going to sound like I’m telling in first person, but I’m working on it. I think sometimes I worry too much about the telling versus showing thing and it cripples me. How about you?
      Hope you’re having a great writing weekend.
      M

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