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.

Thou Shalt Outline (Before You Write)

by Linore Rose Burkard

One of the most remarkable “God encounters” of my life happened while I was in college. It was a pressure-crunch week with no less than four essays coming due. For some English Majors that may not be too daunting, but for a perfectionist whose self-esteem depended strongly on getting an A or A+ —every time–I felt sadly doomed. (Melodramatic? Yes–maybe that’s why I’m a writer!)
I was standing at a bus stop outside of a New York Public Library, trying to decide whether to get on the next bus and catch a few precious hours at my apartment before heading off to my exhausting full time evening job at a hospital, or maybe doing some research or writing. If I chose to write, I’d end up having to go straight to work without that little bit of down time.

I wasn’t praying at the moment. Since I lived alone then, I did habitually pray earnestly, sometimes for hours. (I was a new Christian and in love with God!) But quite suddenly, out of the blue, I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, “I’ll give you the paper.” I’d been thinking about a certain paper–it was on the medieval poem, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” My chosen topic for the essay was the function of the “wheel” (a poetic device) in the poem. So when God said, “I’ll give you the paper,” there was no doubt in my mind which paper he meant.

Hmm. Having never had such an experience before, I didn’t know what to do, but I walked rather woodenly into the library and sat down and opened a notebook. And then–the miracle. (His speaking to me was miraculous, in my book, but it gets even better.)

As I put my hand to write, and not a second sooner, an outline came to me, point by point, including sub-points beneath each major point. In minutes, I had an astonishing outline. I went home and typed up my paper.

Now, you should know that I have absolutely NO–and I mean, NO–talent for writing outlines. To this day, to my great regret–(because obviously this is how GOD writes!! It’s GOT to be the best way, right?)  I just can’t do it.

The following week when my professor was handing back papers, he called me up to his desk, thoroughly impressed. The paper was brilliant, spot on, A++. He urged me to enter a prestigious English major contest, the name of which I’ve completely forgotten. This became one of  many lost opportunities in life, because I nodded as though of course I’d enter this contest, all the while convinced, with a sinking heart, that it was impossible. With my work schedule, I had no confidence of ACING the contest, so there was no question of entering. (Yeah. Idiot. Actually, back then I was anxiety personified.)

So what’s the moral of the story? First, that falling to our knees in earnest prayer can result in God showing up unexpectedly in miraculous ways!  But as writers, it’s this: Lots of authors will tell you that it’s best to start a novel with an outline. Why? Instead of having to edit and rearrange a whole novel, you can fix your much simpler outline, see the problem spots before you write them out, and save yourself a ton of trouble. I TOTALLY agree. I’m convinced it’s the best–dare I say it? Blessed, way to write!

Unfortunately, I can’t do it. But I can still tell you to!

An excellent book, if you care to give it a try is First Draft in 30 Days, by Karen Weisner.
I used this book while I wrote my third historical romance novel, The Country House Courtship, and came closest to writing an outline that worked (aside from that singular instance of divine inspiration) than I have ever done otherwise.

So, if you happen to hear the voice of God dictating a novel word for word ( I certainly haven’t!) go for it.
If not? Try an outline.

TWEETABLES


Thou Shalt Outline (Before You Write) by Linore Rose Burkard (Click to Tweet)

See the problem spots before you write them out~ Linore Rose Burkard (Click to Tweet)

I’m convinced it’s the best~ Linore Rose Burkard (Click to Tweet)

(Not Final Cover)

Linore Rose Burkard grew up in NYC in a family of ten. She left home at 19, worked her way through college and graduated magna cum laude from CUNY. An author of historical romance and young adult suspense, she now lives in Ohio with her husband and five children, a Shorkie and cats.

COMING SOON: DEFIANCE The PULSE EFFEX, Book Three.
“It’s a great time to be a fan of YA novels! L.R.Burkard is back with the
next tale in her dystopian series, and the bar of excellence is raised
to new heights with this top-quality literary offering! Deena Peterson,  Blogger/Reviewer
See PULSE, the electrifying start to the series Here.

WRITING TO DEADLINE: Friend or Foe?

by Normandie Fischer

When I hear an aspiring author say he’s been working on a manuscript for ten (or fifteen or twenty) years, my first thought is that he’s a perfectionist. He’s learning his craft.

Great idea.

But then he says, “My problem is that I can’t find the time to finish it.”

Aha. Time.

His words beg the question: Do all published authors have hours of silence, hours with no demands, hours when they’re not expected to play some other role? Because if they don’t, how do they ever finish a manuscript?

Could it be that finding time to write is all about making time to write?

Many of my writer friends are under contract to produce a certain number of books per year, which means that much of their day is dedicated to writing the next book while marketing the ones already released—if they’re not busy plotting or writing the next book while they wait for edits of a recently submitted manuscript. Traditionally published authors have two main jobs—writing and marketing—both of which take an inordinate amount of time.

And what about indie authors? These folk are acting as their own small publisher—writing and rewriting, then hiring editors (both developmental and copy) and proofreaders and cover designers and formatters. They decide on release schedules and get hopping on that marketing of the old and the new. If they want to create an audiobook, they have to research the narrator and oversee the production. The onus is on them for every aspect of every book, all of which takes an inordinate amount of time.

Which brings us back to: “I can’t find the time.” If there are only a limited number of hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month, and months in a year, how do some manage to publish while others can’t find the time even to finish a draft?

I see the hands waving and suggestions flying that some are called and some are not. Fine. Agreed.

And yet, isn’t it possible that some absolutely brilliant writers remain brilliantly hidden because they haven’t made the time to write, hiding behind the idea that they can’t find the time?

I am a new convert to the idea that, whether traditionally published or indie published, we all need deadlines. A few months ago, I would have scoffed at the notion of an indie needing a deadline. I did the traditional dance with my first two books and then skipped happily into indie land. (And, yes, it was probably about control. Sigh.)

One of the elements I was certain would work well with my personality and work ethic was the freedom to set my own pace.

Until that pace stalled. And this always-on-time-if-not-early person found herself flailing in maybe-later land.

The only way I got back into production was to set a goal—x number of words a month—and a deadline—a send-to-editor-by date. Sure, the deadline was arbitrary. If the date came and went minus a checkmark for task completed, no agent or publisher’s editor would flail me with a verbal whip. But I’d know. And I might miss my own editor’s window.

The process worked. The Christmas book released. And here I am, ready to do it again on my next manuscript.

So, what’s your time-management story? Have you blamed lack of time when you failed to complete a writing task? Has setting a goal helped?

TWEETABLES

Writing to Deadline: Friend or Foe? by Normandie Fischer (Click to Tweet)

Dare to Deadline or Finish that Novel ~ Normandie Fischer (Click to Tweet)

The only way I got back into production was to set a goal ~ Normandie Fischer (Click to Tweet)


Normandie Fischer studied sculpture in Italy before receiving her BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. She and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. They now live in coastal North Carolina, where she takes care of her aging mother. She is the author of six novels. Read more on her website, Facebook, and Amazon.

Ugly Duckling Writing

by Linore Burkard


Since surely you are familiar with the fairy-tale of the ugly duckling who became a beautiful swan, I won’t bother with a recap. But what is “ugly duckling writing,” you wonder?  In a nutshell, Rachel Hauck described it in a recent post here on Novel Rocket

“I fast draft a very ugly novel, then I rewrite. Almost from scratch. I layer and fine tune, change and deepen.” Rachel Hauck

Since I wrote the lion’s share of my current novel, RESISTANCE
in little more than a month,
the above quote fits my experience for this
book. I have a first draft that is, in literary terms, “a very ugly
novel.” But to me, it’s like  gold. Because I know that the finished
novel–the graceful swan–is in there, and that I will hone the work, develop the best parts,
revise and rewrite and come out in the end with a book
that–hopefully–many will want to read. 

I
expected to let the book rest during this past busy Christmas season, but I found myself working on it, rewriting and fine tuning.
Changing and deepening.

And, when I think about it, I realize that all of my novels started out as ugly ducklings in some degree or other. In all likelihood, whether you’ve got one published book or thirty, yours began that way, too. As ugly ducklings.
Newer writers often don’t realize that this is not unusual. I hear from some who get so discouraged when faced with an ugly duckling novel that they want to quit. 
So here’s my takeaway for them–or for any writer discouraged by a messy novel. 
Don’t give up on a book just because you feel, after finishing the
first draft, that it is in no shape to get published. The truth is, if
you keep working on it, haven’t lost your original vision for the work,
and are determined to find the real story and make it work–you probably
will.
   
There
are times when it’s right to put a manuscript away in some drawer,
never to see the light of day. This is often the fate of a first attempt
by writers at novel-writing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need to practice and learn somewhere, somehow.
My first hatchling!

But it is not a universal
experience. My own first novel must have gone through a dozen drafts before it was publishable. But eventually, it became a swan. I might have given up any number of times when it looked like an awkward, ungainly fledgling–but didn’t.    

How to tell if your novel is drawer-worthy or worth editing? 
I believe most books can be salvaged into good works IF the original vision is strong.
What is a strong original vision? A great story!
Do you have a great
story? Something that can touch a heart, strike a deep chord with readers? Then keep working on it.
Chip away at that thing until the beauty of it shines, and your ugly duckling is a thing of the past.
After that, you can release your beautiful swan–to an agent, an editor, or to the world.   
Linore Rose Burkard writes historical romance and, as L.R.Burkard, YA/Suspense. Linore enjoys teaching workshops for writers, is a mother of five, and still homeschools her youngest daughter, preferably with coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Linore’s newsletter (another labor of love) includes two book drawings per month. For a chance to win one of her novels, simply join the mailing list at either website. (http://www.LinoreBurkard.com, or http://www.LRBurkard.com)