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Point of View
Written by Paul D. Batteiger   
Friday, 24 October 2014 01:36
I have a new post up over at my Writer's Brain blog about Point of View:

Point of view is something that often gets neglected in writing instructions, and I suppose this is part of why so many professional writers are quite bad at it.  I’m guilty of those sins myself, so I’m not claiming to be perfect either.  Point of view is extremely important to a coherent and powerful narrative, and it is often one of the last things a writer thinks about.

On the surface, it’s an easy decision, as there are just not that many choices for POV.  You have First-Person, Third Person Limited, and Third Person Omniscient.  (There is also Second-Person Limited, which is technically a real thing but almost unusable - basically, try writing a story in First Person and using “you” instead of “I”)

Three choices seems like an easy process to sort through, but you would be surprised how many writers do not really make a considered decision, just grabbing for the one that “feels right” without really thinking about it.

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Poison Fog
Written by Paul D. Batteiger   
Thursday, 16 October 2014 22:32
For those who might be interested, my first new story is up on my new blog.

I didn’t really know Terry, nobody did, really.  Despite that we were all supposed to be ‘pals’ now in this damned war, and we were all Eastmarch graduates, I was never that close with a lot of the lads, and so there were a lot of unfamiliar faces.  I knew we’d all come through together, long afternoons in Huntsley’s classroom wishing we were outside, putting up with Professor Rawlins and his awful coughing.  But even though I at least knew who he was, Terry was a stranger to me.

I remember he read odd books, not the stuff we were assigned, but old books with black covers and no lettering on the spines.  He kept them locked away in a trunk in his room, and nobody ever got into it.  I suppose you’d say we were cowards, being scared of him.  We weren’t, or we were but not of him.  It was the way he looked at you - like he knew something you didn’t know, and damned if you weren’t glad.

I was surprised he joined up, when the call came through in ‘15 and we all saw those posters up everywhere with old Kitchener looking at us with that great mustache and his finger pointing at you.  We’d all been hearing about the damnable time the boys had been having in France all winter.  By then a lot of us knew someone who hadn’t come back from the war - or hadn’t come back all the way.  My mother had a friend who’s husband came home missing a leg and part of his face, so they said.

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Written by Paul D. Batteiger   
Monday, 13 October 2014 00:33
Fantasy is an extremely broad category, and one that gets harder to define the closer you look at it.  The question you have to ask is: what is my story about?  This is an extremely important question, though one writers do not often ask themselves, or do not ask until they are already hip-deep in trouble and trying to hack their way out.

And bear in mind: I’m not talking about genres as a classification tool for purposes of deciding what is or is not “really” one thing or another.  This is not a class in “why my work is REAL Blahblah, and yours is not” No.  But you have to consider genre when you are writing, simply because genres send signals to the reader about what to expect, give them an idea of where to place their feet.  You ignore these expectations at your peril.  You don’t have to kowtow to them, but you need to be aware of what you are and are not doing.

If you say “fantasy” then you invoke certain images and ideas: medieval-type worlds, dragons and monsters, castles, knights, and wizards.  There are endless variations, and I am glad to see more and more fantasy getting away from the standard Lord of the Rings mold.  I mean, hey, I love Tolkien, and his work is hugely influential, but it is kind of strange that an idea as inherently unfettered as ‘fantasy’ can even be said to have a ‘standard’ variety.

I would make the postulate, for my part, that what makes something “fantasy” at the end of the day is magic.  Magic is the calling card of fantasy.  If you add magic to almost any kind of story you can imagine, it becomes a fantasy.  Gangsters who use magic?  Fantasy.  Cowboys who cast spells at high noon?  Fantasy.  Magic is the acid test.

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