WATCH YOUR DISTANCE


WATCH YOUR DISTANCE

Lynnette Jalufka

 

I noticed when revising my novel that my characters spent a lot of travel time on horseback going back and forth between castles. To remedy this, I decided to combine the location of some scenes, which I believe will make the story stronger.

If your characters travel, keep in mind how long it will take them to go from Point A to Point B. This is especially important if they ride horses. A good average for a horse is about twenty miles a day at a walk. That is dependent on several factors: the weather, the size of the entourage, and the urgency of the trip. Going faster requires alternating between different gaits. On a crucial mission in 1336, King Edward III of England traveled 381 miles in seven days with a small retinue. That is 55 miles a day. Horses that compete in endurance racing today can cover 100 miles over tough terrain in fifteen hours.

No matter what mode of transportation you choose for your story, don’t overlook the time it takes your characters to reach their destination.

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SETTING THE SCENE


SETTING THE SCENE

Lynnette Jalufka

 

Characters don’t act in a vacuum. Their actions take place somewhere. More than a place, a setting can set the tone, show characterization, create obstacles, and even become a character itself.

In O. Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi,” Della is upset that she doesn’t have enough money to buy her husband a Christmas present. The scene outside describes her mood: “She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard.”

Don’t neglect your settings. They have great power.

FINAL VIEW


FINAL VIEW

Lynnette Jalufka

 

Thank you, Lady Elyse and Lady Theresa, for allowing me to use your tournament outing to help me illustrate point of view this month.

“It was our pleasure,” says Elyse.

Theresa smiles. “Aye, ’twas fun, though we didn’t have a choice.”

No, you didn’t. But you did show how different a scene can be depending on which point of view is used. But this question remains, what point of view is the best for this scene if I wrote it in a novel.

“Mine,” the ladies say together.

I laugh. Actually, I like third person omniscient. Since the two of you are very different, I want to see both your thoughts. But point of view depends on the purpose of the scene and what view I used previously in the novel. I don’t want to be switching from first to third person.

“That could get confusing,” Theresa says.

Elyse raises a hand to her mouth at the sound of trumpets in the distance. “Alas, the tournament is starting, and we have not found a place to sit.”

Don’t worry, Elyse. I’m the author. I always get the best seats.

THIRD VIEW


THIRD VIEW

Lynnette Jalufka

 

Lady Theresa clenched her fists at her cousin Elyse’s call. All she wanted to do was enjoy the tournament, to see the horses charge towards each other, to hear the crack of lance upon shield. Instead, Elyse has decided to turn their outing into a husband-seeking mission.

If that wasn’t enough, Lynnette has put her into third person limited point of view. That’s not as intimate as the first person point of view Elyse illustrated, though the same rules apply: the reader can only know what she is thinking.

Theresa thanked the squire that showed her Sir Edwin’s horse as Elyse came down the path with another suitor.

“There you are, Theresa,” her cousin smiled brightly. “I want you to meet Sir Reynald.”

He bowed with a flourish of his hand. “At your service, my lady.”

“Good day, Sir Reynald,” Theresa said. He looked more like a peacock than a knight ready to joust. Feathers cascaded from his helmet, and his armor and surcoat were too clean to have seen regular use. Where was his horse? A knight is nothing without one.

“If it pleases my lady to bestow me a favor, I will wear it proudly during the tournament,” Reynald grinned.

He’d be lucky to survive the first round. “I’m sorry, Sir Knight, but it might get tangled in your feathers. I wouldn’t want anything to hinder your prowess. You’ll need every bit of it.”

“Theresa,” Elyse hissed.

Reynald turned red. “Then I bid you good day, my lady.” With a quick, stiff bow, he strode back down the pathway.

“Theresa, how could you insult him like that?” Elyse asked.

“Dearest Elyse, if I had a lance, I could knock him off his horse myself.”

 

 

FIRST VIEW


FIRST VIEW

Lynnette Jalufka

Good day, fair readers. I am the Lady Elyse, who you met last week. Lynnette has graciously allowed me to illustrate first person point of view while I am at this tournament in search of a husband for my cousin, Theresa. First person is point of view’s most intimate form. You learn everything I am thinking and feeling. All my motivations are exposed.

The disadvantage is that you only know my viewpoint and no one else’s. I can guess what someone is thinking by their expressions and actions, but alas, it is just a guess.

“Sir Reynald,” I hail the knight standing by a tent.

He flashes a warm smile and strides over to me. Here is his opportunity to marry a noblewoman and increase his land.

Wait, I was not thinking that. That is not my point of view. I thought he would be a good match for Theresa. Besides, he is too noble to marry for wealth. But if he is thinking that…

“At your service, Lady Elyse.” He bows in front of me.

I clear my throat. “I had wanted you to meet my cousin, but it seems she has disappeared.”

“Don’t worry, my lady. I shall help you find her.”

He offers me his arm and I take it. “We should look by the horses,” I say as we journey into the crowd.

Dear readers, be careful when writing in first person. Remember, you can only write what I know and feel.

THE BEST VIEW


THE BEST VIEW

Lynnette Jalufka

Here are two characters at a medieval tournament. What point of view am I in?

 

Lady Elyse looked around at the brightly colored tents that housed the knights of the tournament. Surely one would be a good match for her cousin. She stopped at the tent of Sir Reynald who was talking to his squire. He would do nicely: handsome, charming, and from a good family. “Theresa.” She turned to thin air. Her cousin was gone! “Theresa!”

Two tents away, Lady Theresa gave a heavy sigh. She wasn’t deaf. The beautiful gray horse being saddled for the joust was far more interesting then Elyse’s latest attempt to find her a husband.

 

So, what’s the point of view? I am in both character’s heads, so this would be third-person omniscient. Now, here’s the important part: is this the best way to tell what happens in this scene? It depends on what I want to accomplish. If I want to show Elyse’s frustration with her cousin, I would need to put the second paragraph in Elyse’s point of view. If I wanted to show Theresa’s irritation, I would need to change the first. Could I leave it as it is? Possibly, but that’s usually frowned upon today unless it’s romance.

Ultimately, it’s my job as the author to figure out the best point of view to tell not only this scene, but the entire novel. That may take rewriting the scene in different points of view to find the right one.

 

 

LEARN FROM THE MASTERS


LEARN FROM THE MASTERS

Lynnette Jalufka

 

I am a visual learner. I need to see how to do something before I can do it. Just telling me doesn’t work. Then the task is accomplished in the hardest and clumsiest way possible. The same goes for writing. Reading examples from books helps my stories more than someone telling me how to do a technique. In fact, I’m currently rereading a novel to remind myself how to put emotion in a scene.

This month has been about plot twists. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is full of them. I still get chills when I think about the one towards the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I love the way Rowling inserts clues beforehand.

Revisit your favorite books that you remember being shocked or surprised at the plot twist. When did it occur? What did you need to know before the twist happened? Were there hints? Doing this enables you to apply the same techniques in your own stories. No wonder the first rule of writing is “read, read, read.”

 

DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP


DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP

Lynnette Jalufka

Dancing is a form of exercise that uses every part of your body. Think of doing the twist. Many muscles are involved in that one dance as you turn to the beat. It’s a good idea to warm up first before beginning such a strenuous activity. Muscles need to stretch to perform their best and to help avoid injury.

So what does this have to do with writing? Have you noticed that in most stories the plot twist occurs toward the end? There’s a good reason for that. The author has to build up to it, like warming up for a dance. Readers need to fully know the characters and their motivations before you can surprise them. Once you’ve lured them into thinking they know what will happen, you can throw in a twist that turns everything around. Otherwise, the twist won’t have the impact you want to achieve. Warm ups are important, even in writing

READY TO TWIST


READY TO TWIST

Lynnette Jalufka

 

Today’s the day you’re going to sit down and write that plot twist. Here’s six tips from literaryterms.net:

  • Think of all likely outcomes for the story…and then throw them out!
  • Develop obstacles that are seemingly impossible to overcome, and then think of a plausible solution that the audience won’t guess, but will understand and believe when it happens
  • For a big shock, make it seem like there is only one possible outcome to the story—and then use your twist to completely surprise the audience
  • For a surprising but less extreme twist, develop your story in a way that makes the audience totally unsure where it is going or what could happen, leaving it open to many possible outcomes.
  • For a clever and thought-provoking twist, use small clues throughout the story that the audience may forget or only take small note of, and then bring back those clues in the twist
  • You may choose to foreshadow your twist with either very subtle and hidden clues, or very noticeable and direct clues, depending on how close you want your audience to get to figuring it out.

As a mystery fan, I personally love it when the author leaves small clues and/or foreshadows the plot twist. It makes the book memorable.

PREPARE TO TWIST


PREPARE TO TWIST

Lynnette Jalufka

 

How do you go about doing a plot twist that will not have your readers throwing their books, or electronic devices, against the wall? I found some great advice on literaryterms.net:

When developing a plot twist…your goal should always be geared towards the audience’s reaction. As an overall rule, remember that they’ve taken the time to invest themselves in your story. You want them to get some sort of satisfaction for that—so, while your plot twist should be surprising, and may even be shocking, it should not strongly disappoint an audience, or leave them feeling cheated, tricked, or manipulated by their emotional investment in the story.

When developing your plot twist, you should have one of these goals in mind:

  • To leave your audience saying, ‘No way, I can’t believe it! I never saw that coming!’
  • To leave your audience saying, ‘Oh yeah, totally—how didn’t I see that coming?’
  • To leave your audience saying, ‘Wow, I knew it was possible, but never guessed it would really happen!’

In short, remember your readers. You want them to finish the book. They are the ones who will decide whether your twist is successful.