For the complete list of my professional editing services,
click here. I offer free, no obligation, 3-page sample edits of your MS.

Monday, December 19, 2011

POV-How Can A Writer Get It Right?

Point of View, POV, in creative writing is the principal element in creative/fiction writing. So what is a POV? It’s source and scope of the narrative voice. It’s the perspective of the narrator. There are many variations of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd POV that can be used to narrate a story. It is also the most difficult for a writer to master. In my experience with newbie writers, POV issues overwhelmingly outnumbers any other problems such as bad grammar and overall writing style. The POV issue that I want to write about is not about POV shifts or weak POVs. It’s about unnecessary multiple POV usage. Of course, this excludes 3rd Omniscient POV which is perfectly within the norm/rules.
In my experience as an editor, POV issue is also the most sensitive subject to writers. If you don’t believe me, just ask any writer what POV their novel is written in and disagree with them. You’ll find out very quickly that writers get defensive or even downright offensive when it comes to defending their use of the POV. To be honest, I nearly lost a best friend over POV issues. This was our story. He was writing a fantasy with 2 POVs of two characters. When I advised him to write only in his protagonist’s POV, but he couldn’t see how he could bring out the voice of the other character without assigning his love interest a POV of her own. 
We discussed, argued, cried (just me mostly...I think), and even stopped talking to each other. I wanted punch my own stinking heart out because I knew I’ve broken my own rule. I told myself long ago that I would not get friendship mixed with writing because it gets too personal too fast. I was sure that I lost him as a friend when he contacted me again. Turns out, after researching the topic and thinking hard about it, he decided to cut the other POV and write his book only in his protagonist’s POV. Our friendship was spared, and so was his book. In my opinion anyway. 
I think I’ve deviated from my tangent long enough. Let’s get back to the POV issue. My simple advice to him and dozens of other writers I come in contact with is always this. Find a way to write your book in one, single POV. Most readers, even me, would like to put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist. To get lost in that world, see that world in the protagonist’s eyes, and conquer the conflicts as the protagonist. So when there’s a POV switch, and I’m forced to think and feel like yet another character? It’s not only jarring but very irritating. The continuity is lost, and I suddenly feel distant from the characters and the story.
Now I’m perfectly aware of brilliant multiple POV books out there. However, the majority were deliberately done with skills and knowledge and done well. That is the difference. And yes, though we all “should” adhere to the general rule, it’s not the most egregious thing for a writer to do. But if you’re a beginner, it’s safer to stick to the rules. For some of you who wants to take the challenge of breaking the rules? My answer is, “Learn how to write first. Properly. Then you can play tricks.” Am I wrong? Shouldn’t a baby learn how to crawl before walking and walk before running? Enough said.
Though the writers who are doing this think they’re doing something “unique”, they’re not. It’s been done, and this POV problem is prevalent among the newbies. In fact, 7 out 10 newbie writers come to me with the same exact issue. They can’t write their story in one POV, and their answer is identical. “But all my characters have equal importance.” “How can I write about this girl’s story without using her POV?” “What if the character can’t be everywhere at once?” So on and so forth. To them, I say, “Find a way to write the story in one narrative voice.” Because the truth is....what they're doing is "head-hopping." No matter how they want to package it.
Think about it this way. Your real life. How do you see your world? Unless you’re a psychic, you can only view it with your own eyes. Events that happen beyond your scope are found through a phone call, newspaper, a text message, or someone telling the story to you. Your book is basically the same. Excluding deep fantasy, epic, and/or historical fiction that stretches over multiple generations, a story can be told in one POV. IT CAN BE DONE. Ask yourself this. Are you sure that it’s not your fear or laziness that are stopping you from changing it? But that’s your job. Writing is all about rewrites, revisions, and edits. And sometimes, even after a book goes through all that, the book ends up being trunked. 
If you’re putting all your dreams and hopes in that one book, you’re in the wrong business. You’re a write who is supposed to have more than one book under your sleeves. So, let go of those books or learn how to rewrite them. Chances are...I hate to say it....but they were probably practice books that were never meant to be published anyway. Please know that I write this post in the hopes of saving some writers who are in the middle of a revision and considering all POV options. Remember. POV is one of the most important element in your writing because your voice will depend on it, too. There are tons of blogs and books out there for writers if they’re interested in learning about POV uses. Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog~
Disclaimer: I just wanted to make it clear to everyone reading this post. I am not inviting you for a debate about POVs nor am I in the mood to argue with anyone. I know some will argue just because they can, but I’m not one of them. I learned long ago that I gain nothing from burying my head in the sand. So please respect my wishes and take your anti comments elsewhere. I see anyone so rude as to come to my personal blog just to disagree/argue with me when I specifically asked not to, I will delete your comment. And probably twitch you on Twitter. I can’t stand douches who are disrespectful, can you? #amSTABBY

www.sirraedits.com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Collection of Commonly Misused and Confused Words and Phrases

For the new, updated version of this post (with a longer and  more comprehensive list), click here.


This is a post that lists the commonly misused or confused English terms and the correct terms. Much too often, I see writers making very basic mistakes without realizing it. Either they don't know which words are correct, or they've made a simple typo. However, we can't rely on spellchecker to fix that for us. The spellchecker will only highlight the misspelled words, not point out the wrong usage. So, here’s a chance to refresh your memory and relearn the correct terms of these words and phrases. I hope that this will stop writers from tweeting me with phrases like “Your welcome.” Because that makes me very stabby. Anyway, here goes~
Accept/Except  accept: to take or receive     except: but, excluding

Adapt/Adopt  adapt: adjust     adopt: chose, take

Advise/Advice  advise: verb (I advised him.)    advice: noun (I gave him an advice.)

Affect/Effect  affect: produce an effect, verb (She affected him) effect: noun, (Headache is the effect of stress.)

All ready/already  all ready: completely prepared (Dinner is all ready.)      already:  by or before stated time (You’re done already?)

Altogether/All together  altogether: entirely     all together: everything in one place, gathered

A lot/Alot  a lot: right     alot: wrong

All right/Alright  all right: right      alright: wrong

Among/Between  among: surrounded by      between: in the space separating two points

Anyway/Anyways  anyway: right      anyways: wrong (never ‘s’ ending)

Bare/Bear  bare: without, unconcealed, undisguised     bear: to hold up, support 


Breath/Breathe  breath: noun- inhaled/exhaled air     breathe: verb-to inhale/exhale 

Cite/Site  cite: to quote, to summon     site: position or location of a town, building, etc.

Compliment/Complement  compliment: an expression of praise       complement: something that completes

Conscious/Conscience  conscious: awake     conscience: inner guide to right or wrong

Could care less/Couldn’t care less  The right way is “couldn’t.”


Council/Counsel  council: a group that advises     counsel: to advise 

Dessert/Desert  dessert: food served after the main meal     desert: arid, dry land

Discreet/Discrete discreet: showing prudence, circumspection       discrete: consisting of or characterized by distinct or individual parts


ELICIT/Illicit  elicit: to draw or bring out     illicit: illegal

Farther/Further  farther: physical distance (It’s father than xxxx.)       further: metaphorical distance (This requires further consideration.)

Few/Less  few: countable (fewer people)        less: uncountable (Less harmful)

Forward/forwards  forward:right      forwards: wrong (never ‘s’ ending)

I/Me  I: subject of a verb (It is I who is studying.)    me: object of a verb (It’s between you and me.)

It’s/Its  it’s: contraction for it is or it has         its: pronoun, belonging to it like his or theirs

i.e./e.g  i.e.: therefore, that is        e.g.: for example

And for the love of everything fluffy and cuddly like a new born puppy, IRREGARDLESS is not a word!!
Okay. Let’s continue...

Good/Well  good: adjective (Your singing is good.)     well: adverb (You sing well.)

Lightening/Lightning  lightening: illuminate, brightening       lightning: accompany thunder

Lose/Loose  lose: no longer have (lost)     loose: not tight, careless (My belt is loose.)

Nauseous/Nauseated Nauseous is what causes one to feel nauseated. Saying "I'm nauseous" is like saying "I'm gross." Correct way is "I feel nauseated because of that nauseous smell."   

Necessary/Necessity  necessary: adjective- being essential     necessity: noun- the fact of being necessary 

Passed/Past  passed: verb in past tense    past: can be adjective, adverb, preposition, noun, but never verb

Peak/Peek  peak: pointed top of anything        peek: a quick look

Principle/Principal  principle: doctrine, truth      principal: first, main

Site/Sight  site: position or location of a town, building, etc sight: vision, view


Staring/Starring  staring: looking     starring: have someone as a performer in a movie, play, etc.

Stationary/Stationery  stationary: not moving      stationery: writing paper

Suppose to be/Supposed to be It’s always supposed with a “d.” 

Than/Then  than: comparative (I’m bigger than you.)     then: refers to time (I’ll see you before then.)

There/Their  there: in or at that place (It’s right there.)        their: possessive of they (It’s their TV.)

Toward/Towards  toward: right      towards: wrong (never ‘s’ ending, maybe in UK)

Use to be/Used to be  It’s always used with a “d.”

Who/Whom  who: subject    whom: object
Example: The easy way by looking at the answer. Is the answer a subject or an object?Who is that? I did. (The answer is I, subject) Whom are you speaking to? I’m speaking to him. (The answer is him, object)

Who/Which/That  who: people    which: never for people    that: okay for a group of people

Can't remember all of them? Then hire yourself an editor!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Twitter Writetip & EditTip Collection #7

Here's the 7th collection of my writing tips from Twitter. I didn't realize how many of these I do... But in case you missed them, here they are~ Thanks for visiting my blog.

Big problem among amateur writers is starting sentences with I/he/she. It's a book, not a journal. Write alternative starts. #writetip
Multiple POV is a direct result of a writer's inability to narrate by actions/descriptions alone. Show, don't tell(headhop). #stabbylove
8/10 newbies exhibit SAME problem. Can't write in 1 POV. You aren't unique. Trust me. You'll learn to tell a story via 1 voice (POV) someday
Writers are doing a great disservice believing writing alone is enough.Take courses.Read textbooks.Without a solid foundation, you're doomed
Give your character a voice with dialogue as well as action. Telling description makes your character flat and boring. #writetip #stabbylove
You know when you see MS on computer screen? You squint, it kind of looks good. Print it out! Atrocious writing will reveal itself #writetip
#stabbylove Another common mistake. Either, neither, each, none, any, one are singular. Use is/was. Ex: Neither of them is right. #writetip
The difference between that/which. Use that for restrictive clauses. Use which for non-restrictive clauses with commas around it. #writetip
#stabbylove Let there be some white spaces in your MS i.e. dialogue. It can't all be narration. Flat and boring.
The biggest cliche moment: When your MC looks in the mirror to describe physical characteristics. Unless it's warranted, DON'T #writetip
Weave char description(their looks) into the narration and/or actions. Don't list them like you're reading if off of an ID card. #stabbylove
I can't stress enough how important nailing the "voice" is. Keep gender, age, and personality accurate & consistent. #stabbylove
Check your MS for overall ratio of dialogue/description. Be sure you don't lack dialogue.No one wants to read a telling summary. #stabbylove
Too much Dialogue? Not if the it adds essential elements of the story. Characters show their actions/agendas through their speech. Voice, too.
Subject is the actor/doer. In "I love you", I'm the subject. Love is the action. You're the object of my love. #stabbylove 

www.sirraedits.com

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice in Creative Writing

The definition of passive voice can appear ambiguous to some, but it’s fairly simple. In passive writing, actions are always being done to the subject or are received by the subject instead of subjects performing the action. Passive sentences  tend to be poorly constructed and long-winded. And because unnecessary words are added, it slows down the pacing. There are different ways to write sentences that carry the exact same meaning. Here's a basic example. 
Active: Sam kicked the ball. 
The subject of the verb (Sam) directly performed an action.
Passive: The ball was kicked by Sam.
Action is performed upon or by the subject. 
Active sentences have direct approaches that make more impact (and still be succinct) while passive sentences lack emotions and are full of filler words that don't add any impact. Here are different types and variations.
Active: The young thugs from the nearby neighborhood took over the playground to sell drugs. 
Passive: The playground was frequented by the bad teenagers from the nearby neighborhood who sold drugs. 
Active: He saw the need to rant. 
Passive: He felt like complaining.  
Active: Her piercing glance zoomed in at my purse. 
Passive: She began to look suspiciously at my purse.  
There is always an exception to the rule. It’s justifiable when the actor (subject of an active verb) is less important than what is acted on (object), or when the actor is obvious, unknown, or unnecessary. This type of passive sentences is commonly accepted in academic/administrative writing or in journalism.
Example: The victim was found near the back entrance. 
In this case, the writer is intentionally trying to hide something from the readers, or the writer wishes not to reveal a piece of information until later. It could also be that the writer wants the readers to focus on the object instead of the subject.


Here are some examples of active and concise vs. passive and long. Writers do like to increase word count, but redundancies, repetitiveness, and filler words are not the way to achieve it. You can see how it impacts the pacing.


Bad: It seemed to have gone the other way. 
Good: It went the other way.

Bad: It had been sitting there. 
Good: It sat there.

Bad: He could not have been waiting for more than a few minutes. 
Good: He only waited for a few minutes.

Bad: I began to move slowly. 
Good: I moved slowly.

Bad: There had not been any phone calls. 
Good: Nobody called.

Bad: He was feeling something within his body, which felt like lust. 
Good: He was horny.
In creative writing, a writer must engage the readers at every page. When the writing is active, it appear more energetic and powerful. When it passively drags on? Well...it'll make you stabby. Go back and read your MS. What is the ratio? Do you have more passive sentences than active ones? Do you have more telling than showing? Either way, it’s probably a good idea to go over your writing style with a fresh set of eyes. Delete the passive words, and bring the oomph back to your MS. 

Please visit www.sirraedits.com for professional editing services.