Guest Post, Jessica Dall

Posted on Friday, May 23, 2014 12:00 AM

POVs and Opinions
Jessica Dall

While I have always enjoyed writing (stretching back to just about as soon as I was able to hold a pen), compared to a lot of writer friends I have, I figured out that being “a writer” was something I wanted to do rather late into the game. Where I was dragged into creative writing club by a friend, I was actually a drama kid in high school—much more focused on the school play than my writing.

Heading into college, I still loved drama, but it was then that my writing really started to take off. And really, the two activities were not all that different. Both involved trying to get into someone else’s head—just now I was controlling those people rather than following someone else’s lines.

And perhaps that is what I like most about writing. I have always been fascinated by other people—their thoughts, their motivations. Writing gives me an excuse to spend far too much time thinking about those things in new, creative ways.

It is not always easy, however, when you’re creating entire worlds of new people. There are a number of ways to character build, everyone has something that works for them, but what too often seems to get missed is that the world has not only affected the characters, but your characters affect the world.

There are a number of different point of view (POV) styles writers can use—first or third person, limited or omniscient—but no matter what you prefer to write in, there is someone narrating. In the two most popular POVs (first and third limited) the narrator is generally one or more of the main character(s). While most of my works are written in third person limited, I don’t think even I fully grasped how important the narrator is to the setting until I began writing The Broken Line series. All set in the same world, each book in the series follows a different main character—and each character is nothing like the last. This is in part on purpose, of course—there would be no reason to switch characters if they were all carbon copies of each other—but while writing, it became entirely apparent how simply seeing the world through a another character’s eyes made even things that hadn’t changed between books strikingly different. Who is good, who is bad, what being in one place means, all of it comes down to a matter of opinion. Not only the author’s, but the characters’.

And so, now, when working on character building, I consciously consider how the character’s opinions affect everything around them. Are they unreliable? Purposefully misleading? Or just hold strong convictions? Those often forgotten questions help bring an extra level to the story, and make things all the more interesting.

Bio: Jessica Dall finished her first novel at age 15 and been writing ever since. She is the author of such novels as The Bleeding Crowd and the Broken Line Series, and a number of short stories which have appeared in both literary magazines and anthologies. When not writing, she works as a freelance editor and creative writing teacher in Washington, DC.


Loren Mathis

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