Tag Archives: Cinderella

Rushing and Muddying Your POV

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We All Get There

We All Get There

Before we get into the meat of the blog of just wanted to say that I hope all of my Christian family and friends had a wonderful Christmas and have a great New Year. As I say every year, “its hard to believe that 2015 is here.” The time we have been given passes very quickly. When you’re young it drags and you know you will be young forever, but that is just a smoke screen. When you get past 30 the time starts increasing at a rapid rate. Before you know it the majority of your life is behind you and Christmas seems like it happens every two weeks.  Enjoy your life and make it mean something to someone or a lot of someones.

Now onto the blog.  If there’s one issue writing students worry about more than any other, it’s point of View. What is it? they ask.  Am I doing it right? Am I in omniscient of third? Should I be in omniscient or third? Many times the confusion over point of view overwhelms the writer.  The key thing to keep in mind is that choosing the right point of view will help you tell your story.  That’s all.  No one will come out and arrest you if you got it wrong.  You’re just likely to confuse the reader.

Consider the differences between these two paragraphs. In the first: Cinderella longed to go to the ball.  She dreamed of finding true love because no one ever loved her.  She looked at the rose bush in front of her, inhaled its delicate bouquet, and hoped that someday she would hold a bouquet like this when she married.

In the second: Cinderella wanted to go to the ball.  Prince Charming hoped he would meet her there.  She put on a dress.  He wanted to find some slippers. There was a pumpkin in the window.

In the first example, (which I hope you think is better), we’re seeing the world through Cinderella’s eyes.  We’re identifying with her.  In the second example, we don’t know whom we’re rooting for: Cinderella, Prince Charming or the pumpkin.  Finding the right POV helps helps the reader understand what the story is about.

We all want to be done. We all want to see our book in stores, our story in the magazine, our screenplay made into a movie.  Oh, and we’d like the money, too.  Ten thousand dollars would be nice. Right now.

One of the very first things I did as a writer, when I had written no more than three paragraphs of my first story was look through a reference book for places that might publish it.  My list had more words in it than my story. And I’m, embarrassed to say that the minute I finished the first draft, I sent the story out.  To 20 places. Each of them rejected me with a form letter. I actually called up Redbook to ask why there was a problem, and I believe I got someone in the circulation department.

Unfortunately, some things can’t be rushed.  You have to take time with your story;  writing a first draft isn’t enough.  You need to go through a couple of drafts.  You need to deepen the character, intensify plot, tighten the dialogue, and flesh out descriptions.  You need to proofread. You need to take enough time to do it right.

Many, many writers they that if they get good enough idea on the page and send it out, some insightful editor or agent will read it, recognize its inner value, take the writer under her wing, and fix it for her.  This worked for Thomas Wolfe, but I don’t think you can count on it as a career path.  Although there are lovely agents and editors out there, they are not really looking for extra work.  They want you to finish the job yourself.

There are however some things you can do to give your ego a boost before you’re ready to send that story out.  Try joining a writing community.  A positive critique can make you feel great.  You can also try writing some shorter work, which may be easier to get our quickly.  Seeing your name in print on a flash fiction piece may give you the boost you need to finish that novel.  Read literary journals and consider volunteering.  some of the smaller ones need people to help read submissions.  Sighing up can be a fun way to become part of the literary world.

Beginning A Story

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CinderellaMany writers start their stories before the interesting part.  Way before. So instead of beginning with something intriguing, the author walls for a few paragraphs or chapters, which causes the story to slow down.  This is a particular damaging mistake when you’re planning to send out material for publication.  Anything that causes an editor’s attention to wilt is a bad thing.

Let’s say you’re writing a story about Cinderella.  Here you have a vulnerable young woman whose step family mistreats her.  She longs for love, escape of a good time, depending on how you want to write the story.  What should your opening paragraph say?  Where are you going to begin?

You might decide to start with a bang and have the fairly godmother arrive in the opening paragraph. “Who is that beautiful creature” Cinderella cried out. She stared in awe at the vision in front of her.  This sort of opening  paragraph is the literary equivalent of shouting to the reader that she’s about to read an interesting story.  Later in the story you’ll explain who Cinderella is and why we should care.  For now, in this type of opening paragraph you’re just grabbing attention.

You might prefer to start the story a little earlier in Cinderella’s day, before the fairy godmother gets there. Perhaps when Cinderella is going about her chores.  Cinderella winced as she scrubbed the floor for the 50th time.  This sort of opening paragraph intrigues the reader with Cinderella’s character.  Why does she have so much work? What sort of person is she that she’s not complaining? The reader suspects, from reading an opening like this, that something is going to happen that will disrupt Cinderella’s day.

Where writers go wrong is in starting the story much, much earlier in Cinderella’s day around the time Cinderella wakes up.  Cinderella opened her eyes. She listened to the birds. She got out of bed and brushed her teeth.  She hoped it would be a good day. She flossed.  This does not intrigue me.  I don’t have a hint of what the plot’s going to be. Since waking up is something I do every day, so far. I’m not that excited that Cinderella’s doing it. Worst of all is that because so many writers start with someone waking up, it becomes just another waking-up story to me.  Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Prouse comes to mind.  But if your story starts with someone waking up in bed, trying cutting out the first three paragraphs.  See how the story reads then. Chopping out the beginning almost always improves the story.

I know I’m guilty of starting the story at the very beginning. She got out of bed with her feet sinking into the soft carpet. I believe it has to do the inexperience of writing a story. I know that the majority of us, when talking to someone telling them about an event, we start at the beginning. Maybe they’d appreciate us beginning a little later in the tale so we wouldn’t be so long winded.

<div style=”font-size: 8px;”>Original by Susan Breen</div>