Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Ever need something to motivate you to write?

Nike is known for its superbowl commericials that have a moral message. All of the commercials below contain a message that might help you. It takes all of these abilities to be a writer.

Along with making us want to buy their shoes, many Nike ads are very inspirational. It is amazing how a 60 second shoe commercial can motivated us to workout, conquer challenges and face our fears.

Here are  a few of the inspirational television commercials Nike has  produced.


This commercial has to be one of the most inspiring commercials ever! It contains scenes of athletic courage. Gut wrenching scenes of athletes struggling, falling, and failing coupled with chants of "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier", makes this commercial extremely inspirational. As a writer you need courage. You will struggle, you will fail to deliver at times, but  most of all you need the courage to begin.

Some scenes include Lance Armstrong’s cancer treatment and follow-up victory at the Tour de France, Japanese gymnast Miho Shinoda nearly falling on her head during the 1987 Olympics, and Carl Lewis’s impressive display in the 1984 Olympics. The commercial moves us to strive harder and to press on no matter what. The scenes flash quickly and its easy to miss some of what is going on. There are more than 30 clips shown in about 60 seconds. Nike has created a page where you can view all of the athletes featured and read about their acts of courage.

Music: The Killers-“These Things I Have Done"


One of the most memorable commercials featuring Michael Jordan doesn’t even have him playing basketball. Instead, we see the legendary basketball player walking in slow motion towards the locker room before a game while thinking about how many times he has failed.

Seeing one of the most successful athletes of all time listing the number of times he has failed makes us, the audience, feel better about our chances of success. Don't let a rejection of your work  be a reason to give up.
Music: Unknown

Wake Up

If you wake up early in the morning , you’ll appreciate this commercial. It begins with the sound of alarm clocks going off and scenes of athletes rolling out of bed into the darkness of their rooms. It then goes on to show the athletes engaging in their early-morning workouts. While you might not be rolling out to take a run, you could be getting up a little early to write.

I Can, I Can

From the golden age of Nike motivational commercials, this commercial is one of the most inspiring commercials I’ve ever seen. This ad encourages us to believe in ourselves and conquer our fears. It also inspires us to become whatever we want to become.

Music: The Verve- “Bitter Sweet Symphony”


Driving home the message of preparation, this ad titled“Training” spotlights some of the world's best-known athletes as they train for their respective sports. As writers we have to keep learning and improving our craft. Writing over and over and over again! The ad concludes with shots of the victorious athletes reaping the benefits of their hard work..

 To succeed in writing or any other thing in life you have to build a persistent mindset,  focus on the finish line, and continue to practice persistence.  Is it easy? No. But the rewards of persisting, pushing forward, recognizing and jumping the obstacles is far greater than giving up.
If these ideas are helpful, let us know.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What is the Main MacGuffin?

Mac Guffin

A MacGuffin, every one of them *

Clockwise from the top left: The eponymous bird from The Maltese Falcon; the "briefcase full of money" used in innumerable thrillers over the decades; Kate's toy plane, from Lost; the crystal shard, from The Dark Crystal; "The Winslow", from Phil Foglio's Buck Godot; the true Grail, from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

"In crook stories it is almost always the necklace,

and in spy stories it is most always the papers."

— Alfred Hitchcock

MacGuffin (a.k.a. McGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a motivating element in a story that is used to drive the plot. It actually serves no further purpose. It won't pop up again later, it won't explain the ending, it won't actually do anything except possibly distract you while you try to figure out its significance. In some cases, it won't even be shown. It is usually a mysterious package/artifact/superweapon that everyone in the story is chasing.

To determine if a thing is a MacGuffin, check to see if it is interchangeable. For example, in a caper story the MacGuffin could be either the Mona Lisa or the Hope diamond, it makes no difference which. The rest of the story (i.e. it being stolen) would be exactly the same. It doesn't matter which it is, it is only necessary for the characters to want it.

Another common MacGuffin story setup can be summarized as "Quickly! We must find X before they do!".

The term was popularised by Alfred Hitchcock, who actually credited one of his screenwriters, Angus McPhail, with the creation of this concept and the name for it, citing a particular school-boy joke:

A man is riding on a train when a second gentleman gets on and sits down across from him. The first man notices the second is holding an oddly shaped package.

"What is that?" the first man asks.

"A MacGuffin, a tool used to hunt lions in the Scottish highlands."

"But there are no lions in the Scottish highlands," says the first man.

"Well then," says the other, "That's no MacGuffin".

(In other words, please don't ask. Or, alternatively, the object is completely devoid of intrinsic meaning; it is whatever the storyteller wants it to be.)

Hitchcock and Angus McPhail were not the first to formulate this concept. Silent-film actress Pearl White starred in cliffhanger serials (most famously "The Perils of Pauline") in which the characters spent most of their screen time chasing each other for possession of a roll of film, or some other doodad. This device occurred so often in Pearl White's serial films that she routinely referred to the coveted object as a "weenie", using the term precisely as Hitchcock would later use "Mac Guffin".

In academic circles, the term The Golden Fleece is sometimes used in place of MacGuffin, after the artifact from Jason and the Argonauts, which makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.

Compare Magnetic Plot Device.

If you want to start arguing that your favourite series most awesome magical thing isn't a MacGuffin, remember that Tropes Are Tools.

MacGuffin sub-tropes:

•Artifact Of Attraction: If the object itself is relatively innocuous or irrelevant.

•Artifact Of Doom: When the Mac Guffin doubles as the main antagonist.

•Briefcase Full Of Money: If money isn't really spent during the course of plot, it's only a stock objective.

•Clingy MacGuffin: Its most important attribute is that the person who has it has difficulty getting rid of it.

•Dismantled MacGuffin: The Mac Guffin is split into several parts in different places. Plot coupons are most often this type of Mac Guffin.

•Gray's Sports Almanac: An otherwise unimportant item from the future that, if left in the past during time travel, will have serious consequences.

•Hostage For MacGuffin: The heroes have the Mac Guffin. The Villain has a hostage and wants the Mac Guffin. Trade you?

•MacGuffin Escort Mission: The good guys get the Mac Guffin early on. The rest of the story is about them transporting it somewhere else without losing it.

•MacGuffin Location: The Mac Guffin isn't a thing or a person, it's a place.

•Memento MacGuffin: A MacGuffin that holds sentimental value to one or more characters.

•Mineral MacGuffin: A gem, a jewel, or a rock of some type that holds great power; in spite of the name, may or may not be an actual Mac Guffin.

•No MacGuffin No Winner: Neither side has the Mac Guffin in the end. It's been destroyed, lost, or discovered to be fake.

•Pirate Booty: Older than the Briefcase Full Of Money, and even more likely to be stolen.
•Unholy Holy Sword: The Heroes have something (a sword, usually, but not always) that they want to use for good. But it's intrinsically evil..

See also Its The Journey That Counts, Your Princess Is In Another Castle, All That Glitters and Magic Feather.
This is cross-posted from tv tropes

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Contrails and Sunsets

by Jeffery Turner

The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates

After the time changes in the late fall and winter in Texas, the sunrises become magnificent. On those days, high clouds stream in from the west. Their filaments and strands stretch across the sky from horizon to horizon in an ever changing group of gentle shapes and sizes. Then as the sun sets, the colors change from white to pink, to purple and finally to grey .They sneak away and disappear into the dark sky as city lights, with their glow, come on one by one. Watching a sunset like that gives a sense of the greater universe.  With its changing colors, a sunset is like one’s life. Each has stages
with unique aspects, just like the ever changing colors of the clouds as light wanes giving way to night. As daylight gives to night, our lives do the same thing over the years until we are simply part of eternity.

Contrails of high flying jets also cut through the thin layers of those heavenly sheets far above. The soft white trails shoot like arrows through the smooth cirrus arching overhead. Appearing for a while, they slowly fade away, or simply disappear, as the atmosphere changes. But as they go, more come back as the transcontinental air traffic surges from coast to coast leaving new trails through the sky. They are, in a way, like the cliché “times arrow”; a symbol of the passage of time and the path our lives briefly take through eternity, fading away to make room for the lives of others.

Finally, there is the sheer beauty of these lines in the skies. Symbols form in the shape of a Christian cross or the contrails may even resemble an unfilled-in tick-tack-toe grid scribbled perhaps by the hand of God in the sky. So above us is shape and art, all from jets flying miles above our heads.

At the point of each contrail is an airplane filled with people going to who knows where. Seeing a plane with its contrail trailing behind makes one wonder who is sitting up there in those seats. Are they tourists, consultants, college kids going home, or a grandparent going to see a child and a grandchild? Do they ever think about those on the ground watching them whiz through the air? Are they watching sunsets when they are on the ground and thinking of the same wonders above and their place in the world?

So the next time you see a contrail growing above you, a line painted on a sunset, pause for a bit and spend some time underneath its arc. In a little while, there may be something wonderful on hand to view amidst the backdrop of the soft palette of a sunset on a cold winter day. It might make you dream of life and think of what is important to you.

Jeffery Turner is a member of GFW Writers. He works as an IT Manager and is the author of two books.Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories  and  Notes To Stephanie: Days Remembered. Purchase them here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Makes A Great Detective?

M.T. Logan

What Makes a Great Detective?

by M.T. Logan

Sherlock Holmes in Chapter 1 of The Sign of the Four identifies three abilities that are necessary to be a great detective.

“Oh, he rates my assistance too highly,” said Sherlock Holmes, lightly. “He has considerable gifts himself. He possesses two out of the three qualities necessary for the ideal detective. He has the power of observation and that of deduction. He is only wanting in knowledge; and that may come in time.”

Then, in Chapter 10, Holmes adds a fourth ability, what forensic science pioneer, Sir Sydney Smith, in his autobiography, Mostly Murder, 1959, calls “the power of constructive imagination”:

” I then put myself in the place of Small and looked at it as a man of his capacity would. He would probably consider that to send back the launch or to keep it at a wharf would make pursuit easy if the police did happen to get on his track. How, then, could he conceal the launch and yet have her at hand when wanted? I wondered what I should do myself if I were in his shoes. I could only think of one way of doing it…”

The power of constructive imagination is, according to Smith:
always controlled by intellect, an essential quality where there are no more facts to be observed and no further inferences to be drawn. “Doctor Bell and Sherlock Holmes,” (Mostly Murder, 1959, 31).

Dr. Joseph Bell
Dr. Joseph Bell was a professor of clinical surgery at Edinburgh University. Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was Dr. Bell’s outpatient clerk and modeled Sherlock Holmes on Bell, “who had an almost uncanny gift of diagnosing not only disease but occupation and even character from a patient’s appearance,” (Mostly Murder, 1959, 29).

Smith, relates this story about Dr. Bell holding forth at a dinner party to illustrate:

‘Did you enjoy your walk over the golf-links to-day, as you came in from the south side of the town?’ Bell asked another patient, a complete stranger who had never been to him before. Bell’s out-patient clerk, although used to this deductive brilliance, was completely baffled until the surgeon explained. “On a showery day such as this the reddish clay at bar parts of the golf-course adheres to the boot, and a tiny part is bound to remain. There is no such clay anywhere else.’

It was really quite elementary, as Bell himself used to tell friends and social acquaintances after startling them with a demonstration of his remarkable gift. Elementary, my dear Watson…

‘Why,’ said a fellow-guest at a dinner party, ‘Dr Bell might almost be Sherlock Holmes.’

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
‘Madam,’ Dr Bell replied, “I am Sherlock Holmes.’

So he was. That out-patient clerk whom he loved to puzzle, and who later qualified as doctor himself was Arthur Conan Doyle, (Mostly Murder, 1959, 29-30).

To the above four abilities,

• the power of observation

• the power of deduction

• the power gained from knowledge of crime, character, and mores, and

• the power of constructive imagination,

I would add the following three. To be a great detective one must also:

• see it as a calling

• have a healthy respect for the law, and

• have a deep and abiding sense of justice

What do you think?

M.T. Logan started writing short stories about bands of wild horses and wolves for fun in grade school. In graduate school, the old desire to write fiction surfaced again. By this time, she had fallen in love with the classic whodunits , as well as the police procedurals. Working at odd hours while she worked on her degree and raised a family, she began to seriously pursue writing again—only this time, writing mysteries in the vein of one of her favorite novelists, Agatha Christie.
Her character, Lieutenant Detective Liam Farrell of the San Rosendo police, was born from these roots.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Around The World of Blogs

The next three months will be a busy time for agents and publishers. If you want to pitch a book, the following article and website will help you get prepared.

Christine Witthohn, founder of BookCents Literary Agency, pitches her clients' books every day.
Today she shares the basic foundation she uses in her own pitches.

The three things a pitch should always include are:
  1 - genre
 2 - word count
 3 - hook of the book

For the full article go to
I guarantee you won't be disappointed.


Bob Mayer has never been shy about voicing his opinion about change and gives many popular writers workshops. Consider reading his blog on a regular basis.

Predictions for Authors, Publishers and Books for 2011
I was literally cursed at in social media in January of 2010 for my predictions regarding eBooks, agents, publishers and authors. If anything, my predictions didn’t go far enough.

So what do I see ahead in 2011?
A major fiction author breaking from traditional publishing and putting a book out on their own via eBook. David Morrell, who I consider a major author, already did this in 2010, but not many noticed. Seth Godin did it in non-fiction. But when someone big-big splits, it will make traditional publishers tremble. For the rest of the article go to Bob Mayer's Blog.

Want to know more about grammar. Purdue's writing lab has it all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Alexandra Sokoloff': A Process For Writing

Alexandra Sokoloff is an award winning writer and  we are honored to have her on our blog. I recently took a course with her and all the elements listed here are packed into that course.-Ruby

By Alexandra Sokoloff                                                                                                                          

Alexandra Sokoloff
For today I'd just like to post an outline of steps, with links, that I compiled for my class that suggests an orderly process of writing, so that it's here for anyone else who might be able to use it.

Hope everyone had a great holiday and a great Nano.

1. First, before you start a project, even if you already have a great idea that you’re committed to, it really helps to allow yourself to do free-form brainstorming, to see what themes and characters are rolling around in your head that might just help you with the new project. And if you don’t have that great idea yet, this is the way to uncover it.

 First, You Need An Idea

2. Take a stab at writing the premise. You may not know what it is exactly, yet – that’s fine!

What's Your Premise?

3. See if you can identify what KIND of story it is. Again, you may not know this at early stages – don’t worry about it! Just ask the question of yourself, and keep alert for the answer.

What Kind of Story Is It?

4. Make a Master List of movies and books in the genre of your new project, and that are structurally similar to your project (the same KIND or type of story).

Analyzing Your Master List

5. Pick at least three of them that are MOST SIMILAR to your own story and watch them, doing a detailed story breakdown as we’ve seen people doing here, identifying the key Story Elements, Acts, Sequences, Climaxes, etc. I really urge you to put some thought into which movies will be of the most use to your own story and not just do breakdowns for the sake of doing them – that’s fun, but it’s not the point.

Three Act Structure Review

Three Act-Eight Sequence Structure Review

6. At the same time, start generating index cards for your own story. Write every scene that you know or imagine in the story on index cards and stick them on a structure grid if you have a vague idea where that scene goes. Write cards for the climaxes and story elements even if you don’t know specifically what they are, yet. Allow yourself to be inspired by the movies you’re watching – let the movies show you what scenes are missing in your own story.

Index Card Method And Structure Grid

Story Elements Checklist For Generating Index Cards

7. Also do word lists of visual and thematic elements for your story to start building your image systems. Start a collage book or online clip file of images if that appeals to you.

Thematic Image Systems

8. Work back and forth between the index cards and your growing on paper or in file outline of the story. Write whole scenes out when you are inspired. Flesh out the acts by reviewing the elements of each act:

 Elements of Act One

Elements of Act Two, Part One

Elements of Act Two, Part Two

Elements of Act Three

Elements Of Act Three-Great Climax

Elements of Act Three-Elevate Your Ending

Creating Character

9. As you continue to work the index cards, your sequences and act climaxes will become clearer to you. These will also probably change during the writing process – that’s fine! The goal of the cards and the initial outline is a roadmap to help your subconscious out when you’re doing that endless slog of a first draft.

10. As you find out more about your story, write the premise again, and make sure you have identified and understand the

Plan And Central Story Action

What's The Plan?

Plan, Central Question,Central Story Action, Part Two

11. When you’re ready to start writing from the beginning then write. Set a writing schedule and stick to it – you can sacrifice one hour of TV or playing on Facebook a night. Professional authors are people who understand that TV and social networking are the biggest waste of writing time on the planet. Do you want to watch, or do you want to create? The choice is yours.

12. Keep moving forward – DO NOT go back and endlessly revise your first chapters. You may end up throwing them out anyway. Just move forward. If you’re stuck on a scene, write down vaguely what might happen in it or where it might happen as a placemarker and move on to a scene you know better. The first draft can be just a sketch – the important thing is to get it all down, from beginning to end. Then you can start to layer in all the other stuff.

13. When you’re stuck - make a list.

Stuck? Make A List

14. Remember that Your First Draft Is Always Going To Suck

You can always watch movies and do breakdowns to inspire you and break you through a block.

15. When you reach THE END – celebrate! Most people never get anywhere near that far in their whole lives. Take several weeks off for perspective, no matter how much you want to jump back into it.

16. Then when your brain is clear, do a read through as suggested here to see what the story is that you wrote (as opposed to what you THOUGHT you were writing. Then start the rewriting process. Definitely do a re-carding of the whole story – it will have changed!

Also, all of the information  is available in my workbook, Screenwriting Tricks For Authors, which is available on Kindle:

You can purchase any of Alex's books at Two are listed below.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater . She lives in L.A, where she makes an interesting living doing novel adaptations and selling original scripts to various Hollywood studios. She is the author of the supernatural thrillers THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS and THE SHIFTERS, as well as the writing workbook SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS, based on her workshops and blog. She is also a Thriller award winner, an Anthony and Bram Stoker nominee, and a former BOD member of the WGAw and the MWA.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellette

By Ruby Johnson

Jennifer Ouellette says she never took Mathematics in college, because she assumed she wouldn’t need it in real life. As an award winning science writer, and wife of a physicist, she decided to take a second look at the equations she had avoided for years. The Calculus Diaries is a delightful account of a year spent confronting her anxiety.

Seeing the mathematics behind the famous question of why two objects, regardless of mass, fall at the same rate, Jennifer realized that the math behind physics was not as frightening and difficult as she thought. The result is The Calculus Diaries where Jennifer uses concepts from calculus to explore everything from the odds of losing weight and winning big in Los Vegas to the likelihood of surviving a zombie apocalypse.

From the first chapter, when she describes the discovery of Archimedes earliest known written work which developed into integral calculus to the interesting anecdotes she keeps the reader turning the pages.

Probably one of my favorite anecdotes in the book was Nick the Greek’s presentation of Albert Einstein to his Las Vegas pals as “Little Al from Princeton, controls a lotta the action out in Jersey.”

But in the end this is a book to demystify much of higher mathematics. The author shows how this applies in everyday life from taking on a mortgage to beating the odds in Las Vegas. She describes the example of the game of craps and how the odds are stacked slightly in favor of the house. She even shows parallels between the 17th century tulip mania and our current real estate crisis of today, by illustrating the calculus associated with bubble markets and interest rates. While I was interested in the topics listed in the subtitles, I was blown away by how calculus has shaped our culture and how prevalent it is in what we do on a daily basis.This book offers anyone, with or without a math phobia, interesting and helpful information.                                                                                                                                                 

Monday, January 3, 2011

How To Write a Query Letter

Susie Sheehey

By Susan Sheehey

I submitted my query letter to and asked one of their resident experts to critique my letter in their monthly Query Writing 101 series. Please read the interesting suggestions she gave for my query letter. Hopefully it will help others in crafting theirs.

Query Writing 101

Writer C.J. Redwine is back for another installment of Query Writing 101. This month, C.J. has chosen a letter from Susan Sheehey. Thanks to C.J. and Susan! Readers, feel free to post questions for C.J.

Ms. CJ Redwine, (You’ll want to say “Dear” first.)

If you discovered your husband was a criminal, would you try to protect the love of your life, or would you turn him in? Which would you choose if protecting him could cost you your life, but turning him in could cost you your career? (I strongly recommend you don’t start your query with questions. I’ve seen many agents who don’t care for this, and you run the risk of turning a reader off instantly if they decide they don’t care about the answer.)

In “Under the Covers,” DEA agent, (delete comma) Clara O’Cleary (deep undercover) strives to dismantle the notorious Irish Outfit, and must keep her professional life secret from her husband, Caleb. (This gives me instant story set-up, which is awesome. But I have no idea who Clara really is, besides her occupation. What makes her tick? Why is she willing to pursue this dangerous mission? How does she feel about keeping secrets from her hubby? Give us a peek into her character to help us instantly connect with her even as you deliver your awesome story set-up.) But as Clara dives further into her undercover case, Caleb shows heart-wrenching signs of infidelity, straining her once-passion enthralled (Move the hyphen so it reads “once passion-enthralled”) marriage into a dysfunctional relationship. Clara utilizes her investigative skills and the support and humor of her girlfriends to uncover the truth of his infidelity. But she’s not prepared when she discovers Caleb has more dangerous secrets of his own, jeopardizing her undercover position, and her life. Now she must find how to save her case and keep from being targeted, while saving her marriage in the process. This is good, but I feel like your last sentence falls flat in the first half. Can you make the stakes sound a bit more dangerous and exciting? Give her ACTION verbs instead of “must find out how.” Maybe she must rescue her case, AND her marriage, while trying to stay one step ahead of a crime syndicate who wants her dead?

“Under the Covers” is a completed 70,000 word contemporary romance set in Dallas, where a married, undercover federal agent dodges the dangerous machinations of a vicious crime syndicate, while uncovering the secrets of her husband and  trying to rekindle the passion in their estranged relationship. (Cut everything after “set in Dallas.” You’re summarizing what you just told us. No repetition needed.) This story is targeted for the Contemporary Romance or Romantic Suspense genres. Okay, is this targeted for a specific line at Harlequin? Because if so, your word count makes sense and you can fine-tune this last sentence to reflect which line you’re currently querying. If not, then pick a genre and stick to it. And if you’re looking at romantic suspense outside a Harlequin line, 70k is really low. You need to aim for 80-95k then.

I am a new stay-at-home mother after six years in a full-time sales position. I belong to the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group in the Dallas area and have been a long-time enthusiast of romance fiction novels. I am impassioned by and love writing intricate storylines with intriguing twists and realistic characters (including their flaws). We don’t need the last sentence. You’d be amazed how many writers say pretty much the same thing and instead of making you stand out, this makes you blend in.

Per your submission guidelines, I have included the first chapter of the manuscript. Please let me know if you would like to see the full manuscript and I will happily send it. I appreciate your time and thank you for considering ‘Under the Covers.’

Overall, this is a very well-written query. Good luck with your submissions!

About Susan:
Susan is a full time fiction writer with a background in Medical Distrubution sales. She is a member of Greater Fort Worth Writers and serves as secretary for the group. In addition, she is married and  mother of two year old Caden. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011


by Liz Pelletier
You've heard it talked about in craft workshops and writing groups, and likely been told by a critique partner or two, that you need to go deeper into your character’s POV. Deep POV, baby, it’s all the rage! But what is it really and what does it mean? And more importantly, how?

Deep POV, also known as deep penetration point of view, is an intense viewpoint representing not just the sights and sounds and actions of the POV character, but how they feel, react and most importantly their own unique way of characterizing the world. Its use is often associated with third person POV fiction, but the concept refers to the distance between the narrator and the reader more so than the pronouns.

In this brief article, I’ll offer a simplified explanation of deep POV and an example of how to drill down into your character’s POV.

The first thing you need to keep in mind is the typical structure of a scene consists of a stimulus and then a response, repeated over and over.
You cannot have one without the other! You can’t have a phone ring and no one notice. Nor can you have someone answer the phone if it doesn’t first ring. Sounds simple, right?

The second thing you need to memorize is the normal order of presentation: emotion, thought, decision, action. Let me stress here to MEMORIZE this order.
 Your editor will nail you if your character is reacting to a sword being swung at him by first thinking to himself who the heck is wielding a sword at him, he jumps out of the way, and then his heart races. (There are instances when the natural presentation order is not appropriate, but that’s a whole different article.)

If we look at our presentation order in reverse, we have the basic building blocks of deep POV: action, decision, thought, emotion. Use each one successively to take your reader deeper and deeper into your character’s point of view. These four elements are our camera lens, and you’ll widen (only use action) or tighten (use all four) throughout your book to effect pacing, tension and intensity. Keep in mind though that deep POV can be exhausting for a reader and in fact slows pacing dramatically, so be sure to vary it with cinematic POV (or a wider lens).

What I’ll do now is show you the same scene, each time adding another of these four elements and taking you from cinematic viewpoint to deep POV

Let’s take the first one on the list: ACTION is the most simplistic response. It is present in all responses. Even inaction is an action. For instance: The telephone rang, (stimulus) but everyone ignored the persistent ringing. (response) Even though no one did anything, the lack of action is an action—“ignoring”, if that makes sense.

Here’s a scene in cinematic viewpoint:

Margie heard the clanging of the door bell. (stimulus)

Racing to the door, she unhooked the latch and pulled the door open. (response)

“Hi, Bob. What are you doing today?” she asked. (stimulus)

“Nothing special, Margie.” (response)

He motioned with his measuring cup. “I wondered if you had a cup of sugar I could borrow?” (stimulus)

“Oh, sure, Bob.” She turned back toward the kitchen. (response)

Notice the use of the word “heard”. Sense words such as heard, felt, saw, smelt, etc distance the reader and are indicative of a lack of deep POV.

Now, let’s take the same scene and take the viewpoint a little deeper by adding DECISION through internalization or THOUGHT which affords us a more detailed response:

Margie heard the clanging of the door bell. (stimulus)

It was probably her cute neighbor who’d walked by her window a few minutes ago, she thought.  (internalization)

She ran her hands over her rumpled pajamas and then tightened her pony tail before racing to the door. She unhooked the latch and pulled the door open. (response)

“Hi, Bob. What are you doing today?” she asked. (stimulus)

“Nothing special, Margie.” (response)

He motioned with his measuring cup. “I wondered if you had a cup of sugar I could borrow?” (stimulus)

At least he wanted something sweet from her.  (internalization)

“Oh, sure, Bob.” She turned back toward her kitchen. (response)

And deeper still by adding the emotion:
Margie heard the clanging of the door bell. (stimulus)

Her breath caught. (emotion) It was probably her cute neighbor who’d walked by her window a few minutes ago, she thought.(internalization)She ran her hands over her rumpled pajamas and then tightened her pony tail before racing to the door. She unhooked the latch and pulled the door open. (response)

“Hi, Bob. What are you doing today?” she asked. (stimulus)

“Nothing special, Margie.” (response)

He motioned with his measuring cup. “I wondered if you had a cup of sugar I could borrow?” (stimulus)

Deflated, her shoulders sank. (emotion) At least he wanted something sweet from her. (internalization)

“Oh, sure, Bob.” She turned back toward her kitchen. (response)

Now, for true deep POV, let’s remove everything that’s “telling” (heard, saw, felt, thought, etc):

The door bell chimed, causing Margie to spill the coffee she was pouring. (stimulus)

Her breath caught. (emotion) What if it was her cute neighbor who’d walked by her window a few minutes ago? (internalization)

She ran her hands over her rumpled pajamas and then tightened her pony tail before racing to the door. She unhooked the latch and pulled the door open. (response)

“Hi, Bob. What are you doing today?” she asked. (stimulus)
“Nothing special, Margie.” (response)

He motioned with his measuring cup. “I wondered if you had a cup of sugar I could borrow?” (stimulus)

Deflated, her shoulders sank. (emotion) At least he wanted something sweet from her. (internalization)
“Oh, sure, Bob.” She turned back toward her kitchen. (response)

And now let’s give Margie’s unique view on things (and, in turn, reveal the author’s voice as well Margie’s personality):

The door bell chimed, causing Margie to spill the coffee she was pouring. Her breath caught. What if it was her cute neighbor who’d walked by her window a few minutes ago?

She set the coffee pot back on the burner so fast the dark liquid sloshed over the side. Dammit. She ran her hands over her rumpled pajamas and then tightened her pony tail before racing to the door. She unhooked the latch and prayed he thought flannel was sexy. If he did, she was so in.

“Hey, Bob,” she rushed, her voice a little winded from the Olympian vault to the door. She really needed to say no to the Oreo gods more often. “What’s up?”

“Nothing special, Margie.” He flashed a sheepish grin, though her gaze didn’t linger on his face. No, as always, her gaze traveled south. Jeans low on hips, signature black T-shirt, bare feet. Now that’s how you rock the tousled look. He really was too good looking for her poor heart.

He motioned with his measuring cup, dipping his head a little to get her attention. “I wondered if you had a cup of sugar I could borrow?”

She blushed, caught ogling. Oh, she had something sweet for him all right, but it wouldn’t fit in that damned cup of his. “Sure, come on in."

He followed her into the kitchen, and she couldn't help adding a little extra swing to her hips.

And there you have it! My over-simplified, five minute explanation of deep POV. Keep in mind, no rules are concrete and there are a thousand different ways to tell a story, so yes you can reverse the presentation order when necessary and yes you can use the word "heard" occasionally and yes you can go even deeper than the example I just gave. The key here is, if you feel you do not have a good handle on deep POV, use the examples above and look at your own writing and see what you're missing. Odds are you have some of the elements present, but you're occasionally missing the visceral reactions or not sprinkling in enough internal thought or your internal dialogue is dry and lacks personality (or your character's unique voice).

Good luck and happy writing!

Liz Pelletier:
Associate Editor at Crescent Moon Press and Co-Founder of SavvyAuthors, Liz has served on the Boards of the FF&P & Colorado Romance Writers chapters of RWA. A freelance editor and author, she teaches workshops on self-editing, deep POV and GMC.

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