“Do you hate me?”
“How could I not, after everything you’ve done?”
“That’s not an answer.”
When Taylor swift sung "But you’re untouchable, burning brighter than the sun" and Hozier sung "My lover's the sunlight" and Dante wrote of "The love that moves the sun and other stars" and Madeline said "He smiled and his face was like the sun" and Cassandra said "The stars will go out before I forget you" and Jandy said "I'll give you the sun", and Monet painted "Impression, sunrise" and I stayed up all night thinking it had always been about you.
in the summers, the world trembles. i cut my fingernails over the bathroom sink, turn the water to its coldest setting and watch as it slowly sinks down the drain. in the living room, the fan hums. the balcony doors are open from june to september, and when I look down, my cat presses himself against my legs. he purrs and I lean down to kiss his forehead. he doesn’t flinch.
once, i fainted in the july sun, with nothing but half a piece of bread in my stomach by 5pm. on the balcony, the herbs burned until they were yellowed and dead.
now, i do not own a scale. the sun is bright and hot on my bare shoulders. i close my eyes and press my legs against the cold tiles. the nights don’t get cold anymore, and my cat settles on my lap. he smells like the rosemary i planted.
- in the summers, i eat.
POV and Tense in Your Writing
Hello hello HELLO tumblr, I am once again posting writing advice after like 2 solid months of not doing that!
Today's topic is, obviously, POV and Tense in your writing. Specifically, I want to talk a bit about what expectations, feel, & narrative distance certain choices with your POV & tense can create.
An obligatory reminder that the only set rule to writing is "break the rules that don't work for you" and that anything can work if you're determined enough to pull it off. This post is just me talking about what is usually signaled by which POVs and tenses. Additionally, I will not be talking much about second person or future tense, as those are both uncommon in published novels and I have very little experience reading & writing them. Now, on we go. (This post got long, so I put it under a keep reading.)
What is POV?
"POV", or "point of view", is used to describe who the story is being told through and how. You must have at least 1 POV character, or there's no story, and you can go all the way up to omniscient POV. Unless they're omniscient, POVs usually switch instead of happening at the same time. POV can be told in the following ways:
First Person stories are told directly by the character who's eyes you're seeing it through--they will use I, Me, We, My, Myself, etc. ("I go to the movie theatre and I eat popcorn.")
Second Person POV is when the author directly addresses the audience--the story is about YOU and will use you, your, and other second-person pronouns. It's not common. ("You go to the movie theatre and you eat popcorn.")
Third Person Limited is when the story is told in from the eyes of the specific POV character/characters (one at a time) and uses he, she, they, and other third-person pronouns. ("They go to the movie theater and eat popcorn. He would prefer a sci-fi next time; he wonders what she thought of it.")
Omniscient POV/Third Person Omniscient is when the narrator has access to the thoughts and feelings of everyone in the story. It is essentially a story told by god; they know all, and you will find yourself in the heads of many characters at once. ("They go to the movie theater and eat popcorn; she thinks the movie is great, but he'd prefer a sci-fi next time.")
Single POV is when there is only 1 POV character; everything else is multi-POV (or omniscient, but that's technically multi-POV as well).
What is Tense?
Tense is used to express time reference, i.e. whether the story happened before, after, or during its being told.
Past tense is used to tell stories that have already happened. ("I went to the movie theater and ate popcorn.")
Present tense is used to tell stories that are happening as they're being told. ("I go to the movie theater and eat popcorn.")
future tense is used to tell stories that happen after they are told. ("I will go to the movie theater and I will eat popcorn.")
literary past tense is used to tell stories in past tense, but with the feeling that they're happening now. This one is trickier to explain, but basically, past tense can & will reference the present and acknowledge that it is telling a story that has already happened; literary past will act like it is a present tense story, but use past tense words. (Many people who say they're writing in past tense are specifically writing in literary past tense.) Percy Jackson is in past tense; Six of Crows is in literary past tense.
What Effect Do POV and Tense Have On The Story?
Different POVs & tenses have different strengths and weaknesses. Whatever POV/tense you choose should be one that you think will best fit the story; your YA book does not have to be in 1st person single POV present tense just because that's common in YA, I promise. There are more logical choices. (Though again, skilled writers can make anything work.)
Present tense, single-POV, and first person tend to do very well in stories that need to feel immediate, close in narrative distance, emotional, and/or high stakes. Present tense, by virtue of presenting itself as if it's happening right now, can feel very easily like the character's future is uncertain and no one knows what's next, even though the story is already cemented in what will happen. Single-POV makes it easier to have a close narrative distance, and therefore be more emotional (and high stakes); this is because you can focus entirely on one character, and you don't have to worry about the weird feeling of ripping the reader from one distinct mind and into another. First person also has a closer narrative distance (there's NONE, they are telling the story) and therefore is easier to make feel emotional.
Thrillers, romances, contemporaries, and dystopians are often (though not always) told using one of these 3 forms of POV or tense, as those are genres that highly benefit from little narrative distance and from a feeling of immediacy or uncertainty. (The Hunger Games [dystopian] and Can't Take That Away [contemporary] are told in 1st person, present, single-pov; Karen McManus' thriller/mystery books are often in 1st and present.)
Past tense, literary past, multi-POV, omniscient, and third person limited do very well for stories that need to be on a grander scale or that require a more fairytale-esque feeling to them. Past tense, as it presents itself as having already happened, is good for stories where you want to truly remember that someone is TELLING this and it's a STORY. Literary past has that story-like or less immediate feel of past, without pulling the reader directly out of their immersion, and tends to be a happy medium between past & present. Multi-POV stories let you get more done and see more things, as well as sort of naturally having a bit more narrative distance because you're not constantly in 1 head, really close. Omniscient is how many folktales/fairytales are told and therefore has that feeling; it also has all the benefits of multi-POV. Third person limited is more removed/distant than first person is, and pairs well with multiple POVs. It again allows you to feel more storylike, less immediate, or have a grander-scale story.
These 5 forms of POV and tense are often used in SFF, historical fiction, and literary fiction, as those are genres that benefit from larger scale, more people telling the story, or a bit more distance. (The Six of Crows duology and Darker Shade of Magic trilogy [fantasy] are in literary past, 3rd, and multi-pov.)
It is important to note that you can of course write a heart-wrenching & emotional or immediate and high-stakes story with things that are not present/single-pov/first person, and you can write a grand, epic or fairytale-like story with things that are not past/multi-pov/3rd person--this is entirely about what the tenses & POVs tend to naturally lend themselves to. You can and should play around with them as you see fit. All of this is, you know... learn the rules before you break them.
I hope this was helpful for someone! :D
So, since I keep seeing this on writerblr and have actually learned a bit about this process in my writing classes, I feel the need to say something. Nothing wrong with joking about spinning ideas around in your head and not writing, it's something we all go through. However, I feel like there's some real writing shame connected to the idea, and I think it's important we as writers lessen that.
Although a lot of writers see these as days or hours of lost progress, allowing yourself to become immersed in an idea, a world, a character, etc. is actually a super important part of the writing process. Yes, you may have no word count that day, but internally, you are expanding on content, plot threads, and what have you that is extremely important to having a word count later.
So, as someone that often pushes myself to write when I need more time doing this, please don't feel bad about just daydreaming about your wip or sitting on it for a while. It may feel like nothing, but it is a part of the writing process.
late night writing sprint: goal - 10k words
6090 / 10 000
ahhhh (just started a new chapter so hopefully I have fresh ideas)
You don’t have to plan everything. Sometimes the best ideas for a scene come when you don’t expect them.
Tips for Writing a Difficult Scene
Every writer inevitably gets to that scene that just doesn't want to work. It doesn't flow, no matter how hard you try. Well, here are some things to try to get out of that rut:
1. Change the weather
I know this doesn't sound like it'll make much of a difference, but trust me when I say it does.
Every single time I've tried this, it worked and the scene flowed magically.
2. Change the POV
If your book has multiple POV characters, it might be a good idea to switch the scene to another character's perspective.
9/10 times, this will make the scene flow better.
3. Start the scene earlier/later
Oftentimes, a scene just doesn't work because you're not starting in the right place.
Perhaps you're starting too late and giving too little context. Perhaps some description or character introspection is needed before you dive in.
Alternatively, you may be taking too long to get to the actual point of the scene. Would it help to dive straight into the action without much ado?
4. Write only the dialogue
If your scene involves dialogue, it can help immensely to write only the spoken words the first time round.
It's even better if you highlight different characters' speech in different colors.
Then, later on, you can go back and fill in the dialogue tags, description etc.
5. Fuck it and use a placeholder
If nothing works, it's time to move on.
Rather than perpetually getting stuck on that one scene, use a placeholder. Something like: [they escape somehow] or [big emotional talk].
And then continue with the draft.
This'll help you keep momentum and, maybe, make the scene easier to write later on once you have a better grasp on the plot and characters.
Trust me, I do this all the time.
It can take some practice to get past your Type A brain screaming at you, but it's worth it.
So, those are some things to try when a scene is being difficult. I hope that these tips help :)
Reblog if you found this post useful. Comment with your own tips. Follow me for similar content.
Don't know who needs to hear this, but if you're running out of motivation for a story partway through writing it, don't delete it. Set it aside in a spot it will be safe (word document, tumblr drafts, etc.) and come back to it when you're ready. May take days, weeks, months or even years, but I promise, you'll be grateful for having kept it.
Your English teachers lied to you.
Thought I'd post my old writing advice guides onto this blog since I deleted my old one. I hope it's helpful!
Listen. I respect the hell out of teachers. The vast majority of them work crazy hard and most of the time, including the times they give you well-meaning ‘writing rules,’ only want to instill good and helpful habits into you.
That doesn’t change the fact that many of these rules are stupid.
Here are my top five ‘writing rule’ pet peeves, and five rules that should be followed.
✗ Don’t write ‘said.’
Okay, I know this is common knowledge by now, but it’s so important. The concept that you can never write ‘ so-and-so said’ is hurting novice writers’ narratives. Said is invisible. Said is powerful. Said is transformable. If every quote ends in a strong synonym, it is distracting. Sometimes, in an established repartee, quotes don’t need to be tagged at all. Or an adverb following ‘said’ might be better for the narrative than any single verb.
“I hate the rain,” grumbled David.
“I love it,” Claire announced.
“You love everything,” he muttered.
“Including you!” she giggled.
“I hate the rain,” grumbled David.
“I love it,” said Claire.
“You love everything,” he said impatiently.
✓ Don’t write ‘something.’
Cold hard truth, baby. ‘Something’ is a draft word. It’s what you write when you want to think of a replacement. I cringe when I see it in a sentence that would have been improved tenfold by a specific noun or descriptive phrase in its place. There are times when ‘something’ works or is the only option, but experiment by replacing that word with more description before deciding it’s necessary to keep.
Eg. // He pulled something shiny from his pocket. She craned her neck to see what it was. A metal flask. versus. A flash of light caught the metal he pulled from his pocket. She craned her neck to see what it was. A drinking flask.
✗ Avoid adverbs.
This is true and false, but I’ll address the false part first. The concept that you can’t use adverbs at all is ridiculous. Don’t blindly (!) replace every adverb in your prose with a single verb because someone said you should. You want whatever you are writing to flow well and to deliver the best impact or imagery. Sometimes that means adverbs. Or you might want the verb to be discreet (such as when using ‘said’) but still want to invoke emotion. That also means adverbs.
Eg. // "Don't do that!" she spluttered, panicked by the urgency of the situation. versus. "Don't do that!" she said frantically, panicked by the urgency of the situation.
✓ Use strong verbs. At least consider them.
Verbs make the world go ‘round, people. Most of the time, a strong verb will make your writing flow well and deliver the best impact or imagery. Weigh a strong verb against an adverb + weaker verb and decide the one you want to keep in a scene. Don’t just stick with whichever you wrote first because you grew attached to the sentence.
Eg. // She held up her blood-slicked sword proudly, her other fist raised triumphantly. versus. She thrust her blood-slicked sword into the air, her other fist clenched high in triumph.
✗ Don’t use a thesaurus.
I. HATE. This rule. I had an English teacher in middle school who marked any words she thought you had looked up as wrong. As a young reader with a large vocabulary, I was always needing to prove that I hadn’t just picked a random synonym from a thesaurus, that I knew and deliberately chose those words. (That sentence has a great example of a necessary adverb! Get BENT Mrs E. (She also hated adverbs.)) This is the same idiotic concept as telling artists not to use reference images. Use a thesaurus if a certain word is failing you or you hate every word you’ve come up with yourself. There’s nothing bad or shameful about it.
Eg. // There are no examples for this. I’m not sure how I would even do that. Insert stock photo of someone perusing a thesaurus here?
✓ Don’t use words you aren’t comfortable with.
Now, when you search the great wide web for a synonym to a word and then choose whichever one sounds nice because hey, the internet said it was interchangeable, so it must be! … Yeah. Don’t do that.
I use a thesaurus to find words that I can’t think of in the moment but they are always ones I still know. Every word has a subtle (or not so subtle) connotation that you need familiarity with before deciding it is the perfect replacement. Know your words before you start playing Mix n Match.
Eg. // Amusement in the profession puts transcendence in the performance. (Utter nonsense, written by me and thesaurus.com) versus. Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. (Inspiring quote, written by Aristotle)
✗ Don’t end sentences with a preposition.
Whoever made up this rule is an elitist hack. (I just googled it, and supposedly it began with a bunch of 17th century scholars who thought English should have Latin’s grammar, so. Yeah. Elitist hacks.) Ending sentences in prepositions sounds wayyyyy more natural than the alternative. If you don’t want to sound stilted, beat this rule into the dirt.
Eg. // They didn’t know of what she was capable. versus. They didn’t know what she was capable of.
✓ Be conscientious of your sentence construction.
A lot of grammar rules are bogus. Not ending a sentence with a preposition, not starting a sentence with a conjunction, not laying face down on the floor and screeching… Oh, right, that latter one isn’t a rule, it’s just what you want to do when you have to think about grammar.
But, regardless of bogus grammar rules, you need to put thought into your sentence construction. Editing (not writing) is the best time to do this. That’s when you can make sure the words flow together naturally as an individual sentence, as part of a paragraph, and within the chapter as a whole.
Another common construction faux pas that I see is disregarding the sequence of events because you believe it will have greater impact. In reality, if you avoid putting your narration out of order, it usually results in stronger sentences.
Eg. // "Tell me it's not true!" He stood in the doorway after bursting into Kyle's room, panting from his sprint up the stairs. versus. He sprinted up the stairs two at a time and burst into Kyle's room without knocking. "Tell me it's not true!" he demanded breathlessly.
✗ If you break writing rules you’re a bad writer.
If anyone tries to convince you of this, kick them in the neck. (You heard it here folks, kick your DANG TEACHERS IN THE NECK.) (Not really, please don’t.) (If you do, though, don’t say that I encouraged it.) (I’m not encouraging it, I just want to make that clear. Please be nice to your teachers, they have hard jobs.)
Rules were made to be broken. You just need to know the rules in the first place in order to decide to break them, so it’s never a bad thing to educate yourself on general writing advice. Still, there is a fine line between creative liberty and bad writing, and sometimes a famous book or author turns the latter into the former. Know your stuff, but don’t be afraid to throw your stuff into the fire and watch it burn. (Figuratively. Don’t literally throw your possessions into fire, that’s irresponsible on so many levels.) (A lot of parentheses in this rule rant.) (Now that’s just bad writing.)
✓ Take writing rules and advice with a grain of salt, but don’t ignore them.
As a novice writer, or even an experienced one, it is hard to differentiate between which rules work best in your own prose. You may only realize it in hindsight. That doesn’t mean you should ignore every piece of writing advice or dismiss criticism of your work. Think critically about your own style, read books you enjoy and think about their styles, and deliberate– don’t dismiss. Maybe your writing style requires no dangling prepositions or never using an adverb. That’s your decision to make. Just… don’t make it because you’re too stubborn to see how you can improve.
That’s all I’ve got! Do you have any pet peeves about common writing advice? Feel free to reblog and add your own!
Don’t forget to write a sentence of your story today! Thanks for reading~
“Come”, you say. The seams are not yet pressed. The stitches are fresh, still. Your eyes have only just begun to shine. Not one callous on your fingers is the same.
You smile. the seams pucker. under my palms, your flesh is warm.in the evening air, your hair stands on edge, still. Against the expanse of your skin, your bones sit, new still, in their sockets, reaching for me.
“Come”, you say. Your voice is as the thunderstorm that woke you, a wild thing full of smoke. It sits, prickling, deep within my skin and just under my larynx. Around your mouth, the seams curl. “Come with me.” Underneath you, the table creaks.
Do I open my mouth? Do I, with trembling hands, reach for yours? Do I watch the storm as it drums against the windows and hums just underneath your skin? There is a flash of lightning in your eyes and a rumble of thunder in your voice. There is, perhaps, something new fluttering in your throat.
My hands are still raw, see. They’re calloused and cold, and pinpricked – threaded things. Your chest moves with every breath we trade, and your mouth is curled. In between mismatched fingerprints, I have rubbed my flesh off my bones.
There is still soil under my fingernails.
“Come”, you say. Outside, the storm wails. Inside, I press bloodied skin to shoddy seams.
“Where?”, I ask. My voice sits, still, in a graveyard. My shovel is bent. Before me, your gravestones sink into the rotting earth. “Where would you go?”
You tilt your head. Your seams stretch where they sit, pinned into skin. “To the world”, you say. The air tastes of the current around us. Your hands are smooth. You smile.
Tonight, I am digging up graves. In the low light of my lamp, every shadow echoes twofold. This arm is too short. These fingers are bent. These teeth are crooked and this nose is too small. The soil sits heavy under my fingernails and dark in my palms.
Hands, arms, legs. A flushed chest. A half-smile, matched with another. In pieces, I pile you into my cart. My arms ache, see. My legs are trembling, see. Under my boots, the grass stays pressed against the ground. Under my shovel, the soil moves. In my cart, the parts of you lie still. The teeth of my knife are dull, by now.
My hands are dirty.
“Come”, you say. Your flesh is warm.
On my lunch break, I thread a needle. The packaging is torn and the thread is crumbling under my fingertips. I cut it off and start again. On the third try, I manage to pull it through the needle’s eye.
Those first few stitches are rough. They are uneven things, pulled too taut or not nearly enough. Every few passes, I prick myself, until your fingers and mine are shining wet with iron. The thread passes through your skin as the needle does, a struggle.
Your chest is first, see.
Somewhere, a man is made of clay and his wife is made of his rib. Somewhen, something took from the cavity of a living thing a part of it and made from it a love, with hungry eyes and hungry hands, coming alive in a garden that was once the world.
So I make the rib cage first. I piece together your spine and your breast bone and every rib that will, in time, lie cupping your lungs. From it bloom the shoulder blades and then: the hips. The pelvis and the legs and every tiny bone of your feet.
I fit your arms into their sockets and your skull onto your spine. You are still, by now, unseeing. You are still, by now, pieces of a thing, not yet fit into a whole.
(The organs are a different thing. They are – my hands are wet. I wash them. I string muscle from your bones.) A breath. Another.
The light flickers. It does not die. Every stitch is neater, every pass smoother, until your torso lies, unmoving, in the freezer. I cut my thread. I push the needle back into its casing.
I prick myself.
I am thinking, on the fifth day, about hands. Pressed against the small of my back and the dip on my throat, I can feel every movement of my lover’s fingers. Sprawled from my adam’s apple to my clavicles and from the base of my ribs to the curve of my spine. They drag their fingernails – clean things, see, carefully trimmed – across the pinpricks of my skin. Their knuckles are white. Under their freckle-dotted skin, their veins lie, dripping life.
I trace their fingerprints on my throat for days to come. When I pick your fingers, I drape them around my neck. The callouses do not match. The scars cut off, in between my jaw and my chin.
And you –
You touch me.
A breathless presentation, for your freshly stitched skin:
At night, with paint-stained hands and dirt under my fingernails, I read to you. The lamp flickers. I wrap myself in blankets and you in words, until the candle has burned out and my throat is raw. The pages have long since yellowed, see. My hands are sticky with your blood, see.
Come. Whose words do I feed into your skin? Whose love keeps you, breathless, still on this table? Orpheus reaches, desperate, for dead things. Persephone lives, half child, half wife, in between the rise and fall of each year. At the stroke of midnight, Cinderella runs from her life.
When the storm hits, I haven’t slept in seven days.
„Come“, you say. Your hands are spread around my neck. „Is not the world moving around us?“
I look at you and the way your lips curl, at the flecks in your eyes. When you breathe, the seams strain. Under you, the table scrapes against stone floor. Under me, my fingernails scrape against warm skin.
The storm sits under your skin, and Orpheus sits in your throat, and I –
I have not slept in days. My hands are dirty and bloodied. I am wailing, see. I am silent, see. From dead things and string, you wake in the storm. You touch me.
Your kiss is as the current sitting on my lips. „Come“, you say. I lift my hands to the curve of your jaw and I-
I come. I rest.
- creation sits at my fingertips and at the edges of your smile. come. take it, and make for me a perfect love.
I cannot stress enough how important "fake it till you make it" is as a creative. idgaf if you think you suck, pretend you don't.
"But Nico! My dialogue sucks :(" alright. cool. write more. read good books/watch good movies and take notes. write more. and absolutely, whatever u do, do NOT write in the author's note of your fanfic "haha the dialogue is kinda bad", because then everyone will notice when maybe only a handful of people would have before.
"But Nico! My lineart is visibly shaky :(" what are u talking about??? that's an aesthetic choice. it slaps. let it exist, don't fuckin point it out, and your audience will have like a 80% higher chance of NOT EVEN NOTICING IT and the ones who do might just think it's neat
you are better than you think you are. YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE. You, as the creator, notice all your flaws. Other people, though? Most people are not looking at content and specifically going "hm, I wonder how I can think of this in the worst light possible". They're thinking "that was a neat story!" or "that art is cool".
And you know what happens if you just keep working and practicing instead of blabbering on about how bad you are? You get better.
Silence that voice in your head saying you're terrible and horrible and bad, because that voice is a dumbass. Say "well, other people don't know that" and move on. Keep going. Pretend you're the fucking art god if you have to. You will get better, and confidence + practice are the key to doing so.
I say this because I'm not the type of person who can easily just compliment myself. But I can pretend. I can think, I'm tricking everyone into liking my work! I'm a tricky little conman who's convinced people I can write! Isn't that cool!
... and since i started thinking like that, I've started ""tricking"" myself, too. I like my dialogue. I like my sketches. I like my worldbuilding. I like my colour choices. I'm actually, genuinely proud of myself.
Fake it till you make it.
some fun writer things to do instead of writing
make a playlist for your character
make picrews of them
have two characters play Twenty Questions
make a travel brochure for your setting
pretend to be your character and play some personality quizzes
from MBTI, Enneagram to “What colour am i” and silly quizzes
interview your character
give them an aesthetic
make moodboards for them
or Pinterest board
daydream about them
or imagine scenarios
assign three things that remind you of them, for example, A is the day and B is the night so when A falls, B rises and they are hardly together
imagine them having tumblr. what would they blog about?
make incorrect quotes about them
and most importantly, enjoy
what to write next; wip writers' block edition:
switch POVs (this would differ if you really want it to be limited, but if you do switch, make sure to keep it [somewhat] consistent)
introduce a new character
scrap the planning and go off the rails (literally and figuratively)
kill off a character
turn something the characters have been chasing into something that doesn't exist
destroy the thing they've been chasing just when they get it
introduce another subplot
turn one of the mc's trusted characters into a traitor
what would you do to make your mc's life as difficult as possible? oh, that's evil. do it.
send the mc on a wild goose chase
make the mc screw up really, really badly
enact the Fatal Flaw™—make this make them screw up
the mc does something that splits up their group and renders them not trustworthy
the mc betrays their group
the characters are forced to sacrifice something dear
the villain dies
the villain is killed by an underling who is even worse than the original villain
introduce the person who controls the villain
kill off the mc's motivation
what would give the villain absolute power? a gateway to achieve their goal? do it, or if you can't, nudge them in the right direction
sometimes i write really pretty sentences.
other times i feel like i need to apologise to the english language
Write for yourself. No, this approach is not selfish. Write for yourself because you need to fall in love with your story. You will have to edit this thing, you will have to rewrite some parts, you will have to work on it. If you don’t like it, you won’t find enough motivation to finish it. Don’t write for the market, write for yourself.
I sincerely apologize for spam liking and reblogging your page dear sir I really do, but you must understand I do this to approximately 5 lucky winners a day when I crawl out of my little cave and it really cannot be helped
Every writing advice ever: If you’re having trouble with a scene, skip it and write a different part of the story.
Me: If I don’t write in chronological order, I will die
I have lived a hundred lives, and none of them were my own.