What Sports Photography Taught Me about Point of View (POV)

by Beth K. Vogt @bethvogt


My teen daughter plays volleyball year-round, which means I spend a lot of time at volleyball tournaments. My husband and I are also the photographers for both her high school and club teams. This happened by accident – meaning, when no one else volunteered to take photos, we did. At first, we took lousy photos. Now, we’ve invested in a more expensive camera and lens and after lots of trial and error, we’re getting better and better at this whole unexpected sports photography gig.
When I’m photographing a volleyball game, I spend the entire time watching the action through my camera lens. Everything I see is limited by the very small viewfinder at the top of my camera. There are three front row and three back row players on the court at all time during a volleyball game – on both sides of the net. If I’m focused on my daughter, who is a middle blocker, I have no idea what’s happened anywhere else on the court. If I focus on the three back row players so their parents can download some photos of their daughters, I have no idea what the three front row players are doing.

I can’t tell you how many times during a game I finish photographing a specific player – the setter or the outside hitter, for example – and I turn to my husband and ask, “What happened?” I don’t know who scored the point, much less what the score is, or who’s serving next.

Which brings me to the topic of Point of View (POV).

So often we writers like to use the example of peering through a camera lens to help each other understand the concept of (POV). We hold an imaginary camera up to our eyes for just a moment and say, “Remember, you can only see and experience through the eyes of the POV character.”

Spend a day photographing a sporting event – volleyball, basketball, baseball, football, hockey – and you’ll discover just how limited your character’s POV is. It’s not just a matter of what your POV character can see. You also need to be just as aware of what they can’t see and experience.

STAY FOCUSED AND DON’T MOVE THE CAMERA

Perhaps some writers head-hop because they find one character’s POV too confining and so, after a few paragraphs, they hop over to another character to expand the experience and let their readers see what’s going on from another POV. The challenge? To stay grounded in your original character’s POV and bring the scene alive. How can you you write a strong scene from one POV?

  1. Be willing to rewrite. My husband and I take thousands of photographs during a single day of play – and then we delete, delete, delete. One recent day of competition, we took over 2000 photos. I posted just under 500 of them to the team’s photo site. 
  2. Go deep into your character’s emotion. When I’m photographing a game, sometimes I go wide for a team shot, but often I focus on a particular player. These kinds of pictures show emotion and intense action. You are writing from one POV – don’t waste it. Determine what is your POV character’s main emotion and then show it through their actions and their words. 
  3. Look for symbolism and metaphor. If nothing else, photography has taught me to always be looking – for the next amazing block, for the fun interaction between the girls, for the next unexpected volley. As you write, look for hidden symbols in your scene. A powerful question is “What is this like?” Compare the moment to something else. Doing so can pull up a metaphor or simile or a moment from your character’s past that you can weave into the scene. 

Is staying in one POV a struggle? Pick up your camera and spend some time taking photographs to help bring your writing into focus.


TWEETABLES

What Sports Photography Taught Me about Point of View (POV) by Beth Vogt (Click to Tweet)

Stay focused and don’t move the camera.~ Beth Vogt (Click to Tweet)

3 Tips to Write A Strong Scene from One POV by Beth Vogt (Click to Tweet)


Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” As a contemporary romance novelist, Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner and 2016 Carol Award winner for her novel Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She was also a 2015 RITA® Finalist for her novel Somebody Like You, which was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015, Beth introduced her destination wedding series with both an e-novella, Can’t Buy Me Love, and a novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She continued the series in 2016 with the e-novella You Can’t Hurry Love (May) and the novel Almost Like Being in Love (June). Her novella A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding Series by Zondervan. Beth enjoys writing contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Find out more about her books at bethvogt.com. An established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth is also part of the leadership team for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. She lives in Colorado with her husband Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories.

What is Your Writing Dream?

by Yvonne Lehman

Answers to that question vary according to writers’ gifts, experience, God’s leading, expertise, and desires. But as Christian writers, we generally want to make a difference in the lives of readers, glorify God, and use our talents and opportunities for good.

After I was led into writing and attended my first writers conference, my dream became to change the world, accept humbly the inevitable fame and fortune, and cheerfully give God 10%. Okay, I was young and foolish and inexperienced. But that dream motivated me.

After my first book rejection and my wondering what happened to God’s leading, I realized I wasn’t accomplished but only had potential. I returned to school and took every Writing, English, and Literature course available, one at a time.

After my first two books were published, others were rejected. I knew I needed more training and the only conferences were Mt. Hermon in California and the Billy Graham School in Minneapolis. I couldn’t afford annual trips, so for 2 ½ years, I tried to get someone to start a conference in North Carolina. It was for me and to give opportunity to area writers who couldn’t travel far. I didn’t imagine God would choose me to lead the conference when I was the least capable.

I’ve learned he shows his strength in the weakest of us when we are willing to let him lead. It’s easy to praise God and exclaim his goodness when my books are published. But I’ve questioned my dream when there were rejections or no contract.

I’ve learned my faith seems smaller than a grain of mustard seed when things look bleak. But surrendering my dream to God never failed to bring a blessing. I’ve come to realize His dream for me was other than my dream for myself. He has allowed me to be published and for over 30 years has allowed me to be a part of other writers’ lives through my conferences.

Perhaps God’s dream for me is not that every book I write be published. Maybe it’s to learn the lessons that my characters learn. They have problems, conflicts, trials of all kinds. They find answers to the difficulties as laid out in scripture, through the character’s searching, or through a spiritual leader in the story. My characters find answers, or hope, or acceptance.

In writing about their trials I must search the depths of my own Christian faith. Perhaps publication isn’t always God’s dream for me, but that I examine and present the faith I have about life’s trials, and get to know him better. Of course we should have goals and dreams. But in looking back over the years in my writing career, I’m seeing that God’s dream for me was so much bigger and better than I could ever have…dreamed.

TWEETABLES
Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include Have Dress Will Marry (Heart of a Cowboy collection, Mountainbrook Ink), Better Latte Than Never (Winged Publications), Stupid Moments and Additional Christmas Moments in the non-fiction Divine Moments series (Grace Publishing). Her popular 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC, which she signs periodically at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge TN.

Photo Copyright: lanak / 123RF Stock Photo

Never Kick A Sleeping Skunk

By Michael Ehret

 

Would you kick this sleeping skunk?

“Never kick a sleeping skunk.”

— Kelly Long’s Mom

 

Here on Novel Rocket, we give a lot of advice, much of it writing related. Makes sense, right?
Sometimes we may even sound like a “Mom,” telling you the things you already know but are, ahem, choosing to ignore. 
And Mom’s have a lot of great advice. I’m sure we’ve all heard:
  • Money does not grow on trees.
  • Don’t make that face or it’ll freeze in that position.
  • Always change your underwear; you never know when you’ll be in a car accident.
  • Be careful or you’ll put your eye out.
  • If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
  • Be careful what you wish for, it might come true.

We could go on

— obviously.

But, I was intrigued by this bit of advice when Kelly shared it with me some time ago. Is there a writing application? What do you think?
What is your “sleeping skunk” in writing that you’re afraid to kick? What do you fear will happen if you do kick it? 

What is a sleeping skunk?

It’s that thing in your life that is holding you back. You’re afraid of what might happen if you kick it—if you wake it up. 

 For me, it’s “You’re not really good enough.” I’m afraid if I kick that skunk, it’ll jump up and spray me—and that fear keeps me paralyzed. For a person who deals in “What Ifs,” why am I so afraid of my own unknown?

You know, I could kick that skunk and it gets so startled that it stands up and runs away. It could happen. After all, it’s sleeping, not actively menacing me.
My foot’s getting itchy.

Enter your writing related advice about kicking sleeping skunks below.

____________________________________


Michael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation and is a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com. In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal at American Christian
Fiction Writers. He pays the bills as a
marketing communications writer and sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for
The Indianapolis
News and The Indianapolis Star.

Why Can’t I Go To A Conference?

By Michael Ehret

After a solid decade (almost) of regularly attending writer’s conferences, this year I’m not able to. Let me correct that: I’m probably able to, but the door to attend one has not opened for me this year.

My conference of choice, American Christian Fiction Writers, is even meeting within driving distance of my home and the keynoter is one of my favorite authors: Ted Dekker. But it’s not happening this year and I vacillate between being OK about it and being pretty ticked off, truth be known. Can you relate?

At last year’s conference, I got what I considered a pretty clear message from God about my writing. (See the details here and here.) “I’m inviting you into a new season of writing.”

Surely that would include attending my favorite writing conference? Seeing my favorite writing friends? Surely? Apparently not—and don’t call me Shirley.

Feel like this guy because you can’t attend
a writer’s conference?

Despite my efforts to pry that door open—or to find that ‘promised’ open window God provides when He closes a door (you know that’s not biblical, right?)—there’s no conference in my year.

Are you there too? Are you feeling left out? On the outside looking in? Not one of the cool kids? Bring your pocket-protector self over and have a seat. OK, you’ve got three minutes to cry and fuss and whine. I’m setting a timer. 3-2-1 Go!

Feeling better? No? Well, me either, but here are three things you can do if you’re not attending a writer’s conference:

1. Buy yourself a much-needed or long-desired writing resource.

One of my favorite
fiction craft books

One of my reasons for not being able to go this year is monetary. That may be a reason for you, too. And it’s a valid reason. Even though we’re writers, we still have responsibilities that we can’t just toss away. Am I right?

So, instead of buying a conference (easily upwards of $1,500 with registration, hotel, plane ticket, etc.), treat yourself to some resource you’ve been wanting and putting off. Maybe that’s a craft book. Maybe that’s a writing assist program like Grammarly or Scrivener. Maybe it’s a framed inspirational quote to display in your writing corner.

Just buy it. Feel guilty later if you must, but console yourself that (whatever it is) it’s far less than the cost of the conference you’re not going to.

2. Consider, oh, I don’t know, writing?

Wilma Rudolph, an American Olympic track and field sprinter who won three gold medals in 1960, once said: “Believe me, the reward is not so great without the struggle.”

You get that, right? The struggle is what makes the reward, when it comes, so sweet. So persevere in your writing. Take the time you’re not going to spend at your preferred writing conference, put your butt in your chair, and write.

Honor your gift and your calling—and, for your own sake, get lost in your fictional world. Bring life where there is no life. And if your sadness is overwhelming, choose to write the scenes where your hero and heroine face their Black Moments—and all seems lost.

All is not lost for them. You know it, as the creator, but they don’t. They are just living the day-to-day lives you, their creator, wrote for them … You’re getting the point right? You don’t need a hammer on the head, right?

3. If you can’t write, then pray for your writer friends who are attending conferences.

No, I’m not kidding. When you’re locked in a pity party, the best way to break free is to do something nice for someone else. So, if you can’t be there…then be there for your friends who are there.

Hold them up before the Lord. Pray for encouragement. Bravery. Their emotions. The editors and agents they’ll meet with.

Pray for the casual, unplanned for meetings around meal tables. The overwhelming feeling of the introvert writer who just can’t face another class or another “thank you, but this isn’t right for our house” appointment.

Be Aaron to their Moses.

If you do these three things, you’ll find the time goes much quicker, you’ll feel more productive, and you’ll be a blessing. And isn’t that better for everyone, including you?

____________________________________


Michael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation and is a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com. In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal at American Christian
Fiction Writers. He pays the bills as a
marketing communications writer and sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for
The Indianapolis
News and The Indianapolis Star.