Friday, 7 May 2010

Writing Styles and Writing Goals

After my indecisions of yesterday I’ve managed to choose some goals for Merrilee’s Creativity Workshop. I need to select three goals and each one will be central to a group of short stories. I would love to hear your views on the ones I've chosen.

My first is setting:
I usually set my stories in the present day or in one case in the future and yet I have a history degree and used to teach history so I’m going to try placing my first group of stories into a historical setting. I don’t often read historical novels and I know a lot of you do so what do you think makes a really good historical novel?

My second is point of view:
I love writing first person present tense and have never written from the third person omniscient point of view. (I double-checked the meaning and it’s when you look down on your characters as if you’re a cloud floating above them.) This is what I will be trying to do with my second group of stories. Before I became a writer I was often unaware of the point of view used in a novel. Are you aware of which point of view your favourite novels are written in and does it make a difference to your enjoyment of them? Which do you prefer, first person, third person or omniscient?

My third is the Main Character:
I have an admission to make. I quite often don’t like my main characters. I rather suspect they’re based on my view of me and that this is linked with my preference for writing in the first person. I much prefer and give the best lines to their friends. I am going to work on creating strong main characters who aren’t totally lovely because that would be ‘gooey-yuk’ but I want to create main characters who the reader cares about. What sort of Main characters are heart-stoppers for you?

And now all I'll have to do is to write the stories.


  1. Nice goals. I'm quite a fan of historicals and what I really like is one where I learn little bits and pieces about the time period through the story.

  2. Those are great goals! I think you're going to have lots of fun - and I bet it's a great experience. Good luck - I look forward to hearing about your experience with it :)

  3. I'm a huge fan of historical novels, which is why I developed my website What makes a historical novel great, I think, is all the same things that make contemporary novels great, plus offering an illuminating look into the past that helps modern readers understand a particular historical moment better - thereby helping us understand our own time a little better, too.

    The main character who most grabbed my heart recently was Charlotte Brontë in Jude Morgan's novel Charlotte and Emily. Charlotte had flaws - but they were not necessarily the same as the ones she thought she had. What made her so heart-wrenching for me was that she was raised in conditions of both subtle and overt emotional and physical abuse and believed too much of what people told her about herself, but still had the courage and faith in herself to take a stand and make a meaningful life for herself.

  4. Oh, I've always been fascinated by historical novels. I haven't read very many, but the ones I have read really stuck in my mind.

    Great goals! I look forward to watching your progress.

  5. I'm always aware of what point of view the novels I read are in. I don't really have a favorite when it comes to reading; as long as the POV is done well and believably, that's all I care about as a reader. When it comes to writing, my favorite is third person limited. I've never used third person omniscent, though I believe I will in the next project or two. First person is okay, but I personally find it more difficult than third person limited.

    The main characters I like the best are real but not cliche. It's a hard balance to achieve, I know. Like, I'm getting a bit tired of the "popular girl is cruel to everyone because her parents are cruel to her" one; you see it EVERYwhere now.

  6. I prefer third person close to third omni. Third omni is a challenge! Good on you for tackling it.

    Like others have said, I love historicals when you can really feel the period and the culture of the setting.

    Great list, well done :)

  7. I always notice the PoV stories are written from as well. When they're done well, I don't really have a favourite, but if the wrong one is being used it's always in first person that it really shows.

  8. Thanks, Jemi, the course does look as if it's going to be fun.

    Hi Margaret. Your Historical Novels link looks interesting. I've made a quick visit and will pop along later for a good read and thank you for that fascinating character description of Jude Morgan's Charlotte.

    Thanks for the visit, Alisha. Historical novels do seem to be very popular, don't they.

    I know what you mean, Chibi, about when a pov isn't used correctly. It really jars. Good luck with your go at 3rd person omni.

    Hi Merrilee and thanks. I guess I chose third omni because it is a challenge and you did say we had to step outside our comfort zones so...

    Thanks for the visit Anna. I suppose the skill is to work out the most appropriate pov before even starting a story.

  9. Great goals!

    I like main characters who aren't too soppy - who do things for a reason and are driven by something strong - even if it isn't necessarily in the right direction. I like them to be active, not passive.

  10. Thanks, Talli. I'm definitely going to try to make my characters more active.

  11. I love reading stories that give an insight into some aspect of history that I have learned about but in a dry way - e.g. we 'all' ( i.e. those who went to school in England) know that Henry VIII had 6 wives but we learnt it from the point of view of the British throne. But the stories of the lives of his wives make fascinating reading.

    If I wasn't a writer I would never notice the POV - I don't think you're supposed to. A good book should be read seamlessly without the reader thinking about how it's written.

    Good luck Ros, your goals are terrific.

  12. Yay I love POV! I'm glad you're tackling it too. I've tried third omn, but it's really hard. I prefer first person, it's just easier for me. Great goals, all the best for the workshop!

  13. Hi Ann, yes that's a very good point about pov. It's a mark of a good book when you don't notice it so I guess that should be what we're aiming for.

    Thanks for the visit, Xen. I find 1st person easier too. I suppose it's because we can live the character in our head and not have to make that extra step in our creative writing.

  14. I love playing with POVs, though I don't have a favourite. I use whatever seems to work best for the story and I've been known to switch when it hasn't worked well.

    I suppose if I was FORCED to choose, I'd say 2nd person because it's such a wonderful challenge! Of course, it is NOT recommended for most stories. I find that POV works best for the more emotionally intense stories and, if only because it IS such a challenge, shorter pieces.

  15. Hi Aurora, the only time I've heard 2nd person pov the stories have been quite sinister although I suppose they don't have to be. A story in the form of a letter would be in 2nd person. Actually, that gives me an idea...

  16. I agree with Talli about positive characters - I do think it's important that you like your own characters though. Otherwise the readers won't!

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