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First person pov V third

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TimE
 TimE
(@time)
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Posts: 339

Like, I guess, many, after seeing Wulf  say that WotF judges prefer third person pov, I think – yeah, but the number of 1st person winning entries is high.

Flash Fiction Magazine has a free course at the moment. FREE How to Write Flash Fiction Crash Course | Flash Fiction Magazine It’s brief and okay. Pretty well seen it all before.

However, what they have to say about 1st v 3rd is interesting -

Like first-person, third-person limited is close and personal, but because there is some distance established between the language of the story itself and the character, it’s easier to describe what’s happening using concrete description and imaginable action.

But here’s the kicker: it then becomes harder to tell or explain why a character is doing something. And this is a key insight into writing compelling flash fiction, because when a character acts in a story without explanation—or, in other words, is unpredictable—the reader will engage more deeply to try and figure out why.

(I'm going to presume they don't mind me quoting a little from their course since it's free and I'm effectively promoting it).

They also say - The secret ingredient to writing great stories is getting feedback from professional editors and other writers who are learning just like you. (I'm not very good at doing this.)

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Topic starter Posted : April 28, 2021 1:43 am
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Agathon
(@agathon)
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Posted by: @time

Flash Fiction Online has a free course at the moment. FREE How to Write Flash Fiction Crash Course | Flash Fiction Magazine It’s brief and okay. Pretty well seen it all before.

 

Thanks, TimE!

Flash fiction is something I don't get at all and it's on my list of things to research, you've just made that easier.

The quote you included was a great insight as well.

I've gone back and forth on telling stories in first person. I find 1st makes for compelling action sequences but endings become problematic for my stories.

When a pro says, "Stick to third person limited," I'm going to listen. I remember a short story by Roger Zelazny from the seventies the thesis of which seemed to be that to ask an intelligent question the inquirer needs to know most of the answer already. I found this to be true in so many fields of endeavor.

I'm just going to observe that the writers who are published in WotF have produced a exceptional work of art. It probably doesn't matter whether they wrote that story in first or third person, they'd win sooner or later either way. We beginners objecting when Wulf advises us to write in third person is like saying, "Mike Tyson doesn't jab," or "Lance Armstrong climbs on his large chainring," or "Arnold Schwartzenegger lifted weights four hours a day when he was training for a body building contest." None of those sports analogies are a good idea for me to try. I might get there eventually through years of dedicated effort. Maybe.

But I can see the reasoning in the quote you supplied. Having a logical reason helps make it easier to stick with the program.

Agathon McGeachy
Figure Sculptor, Mechanical Designer, Reformed Rakehell, Writer
Vol 37, Q2: HM
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Posted : April 28, 2021 6:32 am
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
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Posts: 984

Yeah, Tim, like send me your damn stories already! winking  

I like reading 1st for short stories. Novels, not so much, but it is characteristic of YA. I can do 225 pages in someone's head. Longer and I can't sustain.

WotF does lean 1st person for the winners. I think 7 of 12 were in V.36.

Up to me and I write 100% of my stories in 1st person present. But I'm starting to camp in writing what a story calls for. Ugh. Getting old or something.

Wulf said his winner needed to be 1st. He said the judges agreed. Sometimes, ya gotta do it.

So as much as a story is as long as it needs to be, the tense is also what it needs to be.

Me:

1f, 2sf - 1st

1f - 3rd

shrug

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Posted : April 28, 2021 8:23 am
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Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
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Posts: 125

I don’t know. My first works were first person, but I have been testing out third person. However, I keep falling into the trap on 3rd person with head hopping. I got a little bit of tough love ❤️ on it, which I appreciate. Now I’m working on revamping my 3QTR entry.

I appreciate all the help patience on this board with the novice writer. One day I aspire to create are work of art that is remembered. 

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : April 28, 2021 10:32 am
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Reuben
(@reuben)
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Posted by: @time

But here’s the kicker: it then becomes harder to tell or explain why a character is doing something. And this is a key insight into writing compelling flash fiction, because when a character acts in a story without explanation—or, in other words, is unpredictable—the reader will engage more deeply to try and figure out why.

 

This is a great point. Perhaps it doesn't trump the WotF element, but I think it's important to know nevertheless. I remember when I was reading The Book of The New Sun, it would often say something like, "I twisted his arm behind his back so that he couldn't move," without explaining why he would do such a thing, and it works. I tried to do the same thing with my SHM. Of course, you can do the same with third person limited, but in third person, whenever the MC acts against his character, it causes reader believability to drop--for some reason, it's as if the reader expects to be told the character's thoughts every time something happens. In first person, we're more trusting.

 

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill
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V38: SHM

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Posted : April 28, 2021 11:07 am
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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posted by: @axeminister

....Wulf said his winner needed to be 1st. He said the judges agreed. Sometimes, ya gotta do it.

 

This part I have to correct you on, Dustin. Sorry, you know I love ya'. I have plainly stated the judges did not agree. They were adamant in the workshop that the better way to tell a story is third person, past tense. I am simply passing that info on for Forumites to do with that knowledge as they wish. Scott Card enumerated all the reasons, and said third person past tense is the only true way to tell a story. After a lengthy lecture on the subject, David Farland and Tim Powers also made the same case.

Then why do they choose first person stories for the anthology? Scott Card, and I paraphrase, said, 'Now I know some of you here wrote your stories in first person. They were good stories, as good as they could be in first person. We try to set our opinions aside and read objectively what has been presented to us for judging. But they would have been better stories had you written them in third person, past tense. It's the only truthful way to tell a story."

So there you have their opinion. I assure you, it was stated by Scott Card as an absolute. You're going to have a tough go of it if you're a Finalist and Scot Card is selected as one of your four final judges and you wrote in first person. He was not one of my final four. Tim Powers however, was. So was Dave. So my story rose past what I know are their strong feelings on the subject and made it to Second Place. In the same quarter that the Golden Pen was in. (Joni also told me the four judges unanimously chose my story as a winner out of the eight Finalists. I said that's nice. She said, "No, Moon, you don't understand. That never happens. That NEVER happens. The judges NEVER unanimously agree." Good fact to know when you're a Finalist and don't make the final three. I hope that eases the pain for some. They're all winners, even if they don't get chosen to win. It's why Dave picked them.)

I believe it's important to know this about first person in relation to this Contest, even if one doesn't agree with it. As I've mentioned before, I personally believe all writing tools should be considered when writing a story, and first person is one of them. I absolutely believe there was no stronger way to tell Super-Duper Moongirl's story. Even a second person story took first place in Volume 36, and many writers, readers, and editors HATE second person, myself included, for a variety of reasons. Doesn't mean I haven't written a story in second person to play with the tool. Anything can break the "rules" and even personal biases if it's well written and has emotional impact. It's still important to know that the judges have strong feelings on certain matters. You certainly don't have to agree with them.

But I will tell you this. The first night we were there, we had our introductions in Joni's suite in the hotel. At the end, Tim Powers came straight up to me. "Are you the one that wrote Super-Duper Moongirl?" I said yes. He shook my hand vigorously. "That was a damn fine story. I loved your story." Then, several days later while walking back from lunch to resume the workshop, Tim Powers had me walk with him. "Moon, I want you to know you wrote a damn fine story. I loved your story. Now I'm going to warn you, we're about to give a strong talk about not writing in first person. But I loved your story." I thanked him for the heads up, and said, "I don't believe the story would have been as powerful had I told it any other way." Tim gave me that quirky smile. "No, it would not have."

At the end of the event, when we were all lining up in the hotel lobby, Tim Powers was there to bid us farewell. We gave each other a hug. He said, "Moon, I want you to know I started reading your story again this morning." I said, "Oh really?" Tim said, "Yeah. I'm trying to figure out how you did it."

 

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Posted : April 28, 2021 11:08 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
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Way back in the day when I was a fanfiction-writing teenager, I used whatever perspective I wanted because it was fun and I was playing. I stopped writing in my early 20's because Life Happened, but picked it back up around age 30. My first story when I was getting back into writing (i.e. back when I started joining WotF) was initially written in 1st person, and I got told That Was Wrong very sternly. I was an impressionable lass at the time, and followed the advice to write in 3rd person stringently for about five years.

Last year I finally started experimenting with 1st person again--mostly because I wanted to see if I could, to be honest. One of those stories has recently sold, although I can't make official announcements as to who bought it/where it will be until October-ish because Reasons. winking Another one is awaiting its verdict as my Q2 (and I have higher hopes for it than I probably should).

At this point, I don't think either perspective is inherently right or wrong. There are things each one does that the other can't, and each of them has pitfalls that a new writer may slip into. The key, I think, is a) figuring out what works best for a given story and b) what works best for your writing style. It's okay if these answers change from story to story, because no two stories are the same.

It's possible that trying to master 3rd person limited for five years may have made it easier for me to transition to 1st person when I finally decided to expand my horizons because of its focus on one character's perspective. But that might work both ways--I honestly don't know. shrug  

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
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Posted : April 28, 2021 11:18 am
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Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
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Sorry Wulf, I thought they agreed your story had to be 1st given the deep POV. However, I do not regret my mistake because we got to read more about it and your time there. giggle  

Good to know about Card tho. I don't remember if he was in on my 2nd one or not. But I figure there's probably a few 1st each quarter, so competition within competition, right? Can't all come in 8th. Har har.

2x Finalist
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9x HM
1 of 5 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

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Posted : April 28, 2021 11:38 am
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Disgruntled Peony
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@wulfmoon It's good that the judges are willing to make the effort to set aside their biases, at least.

I do get why some people, writers or otherwise, might have preferences one way or the other. The different perspectives provide different levels of narrative distance, for example. Never going to fault the judges their preferences.

I grew up reading 1st, 3rd, and even 2nd person stories. (Whether it was good writing or not, I went through a phase of adoring Choose Your Own Adventure books as a preteen, and those tended to be written in 2nd person.) As a result, I've never had a serious personal bent toward one over the other.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
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Posted : April 28, 2021 11:45 am
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Agathon
(@agathon)
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Posts: 62

I appreciate the insight into the judges preference.

Wulf's anecdote is likewise the sort of thing that keeps me coming back to the forum.

While I consider myself a rookie at writing, I sold my first piece of art in Junior High School, about five decades ago. Immediately my focus became 'what will I enjoy making that other people will want to buy?' Of course there's always been some art I make just for myself and other art I make to sell. I'm clear on the difference. If I make something to sell and no one wants it, you can be sure I don't make more like it. If I make something that sells well, I ride that pony until it dies. I've never made a living from art and that'll probably never change but I've definitely made my living considerably better off of art.

We know plenty of things about WotF judging because Wulf, Dave, and others have told us. We know the judges don't like: too naughty, too potty-mouthed, too violent, or first person to name a few. They supposedly love comedy but you don't see much of it and what winds up in print is outstanding so I guess it has to be really good for them to like it.

The judges pick the best of the stories that were submitted. These stories might include something they don't like even though it's obviously a great story. I honestly don't think it matters, the people who are making it into the Anthology would make it anyway eventually or pro out. Some combination of talent, skill and work ethic put the winners at the top. Think of this: the stories told in first person won DESPITE the preference of the judges. Obviously that means the winners are really good at storytelling.

WotF is not the only market that discourages first person. The others seem to print way less of it though. Probably because as soon as a story emerges from the slush pile and the reader notices it's first person it gets rejected. WotF is different, they don't have a slush pile. Everything is read.

The confusing part of all this is when Dave buys something he says he doesn't like. He also says he doesn't like a lot of cursing and I bet he never buys a story like that. He says he likes comedy and he prints more first person stories even though he says he doesn't like them.

What's a writer to do?

My point is that the editor is our customer. The customer wants to buy things they like. It's seems obvious to me, give the customer what they say they like.

But the WotF editors have another agenda, they're trying to help us become pro writers. What a gift that is! Learning the proper use of third person is, they say, an essential skill. So the contest is also a school house. Until I win or pro out, I'm a student.

Agathon McGeachy
Figure Sculptor, Mechanical Designer, Reformed Rakehell, Writer
Vol 37, Q2: HM
Vol 37, Q3: HM
Vol 37, Q4: HM
Vol 38, Q1: R
Vol 38, Q2: the waiting is the hardest part
Now in print: NIWA 2020 Anthology 'Escape' available on Amazon
Coming soon: NIWA 2021 Anthology 'Forbidden'

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Posted : April 28, 2021 4:59 pm
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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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@agathon

Nice post, agathon. I especially appreciated your illustration of the editor or judge being like the buyer of a product.

"My point is that the editor is our customer. The customer wants to buy things they like. It's seems obvious to me, give the customer what they say they like."

Exactly. They may not know exactly what they're looking for, but if you know their tastes as you pull out your wares, you'll have a much better chance of making a sale.

It’s one of the reasons I wrote the SUPER SECRETS in here. And a big part of why those applying them have had such tremendous results. They are fine tuning their manuscripts like the engines on a Formula One race car to win on this specific track. In the big races, like the Indy 500, winners are only seconds apart. Same is true in the Finalist stack. Knowing how to fine tune your entry to the tastes and requirements of the judges can make the difference between being published and given the trophy, or putting a certificate on your wall and going back to the drawing boards.

And before someone argues with me about this, if you’re not thinking about and even studying what the editor at a publication likes and dislikes that you’re submitting to, you’re already at a disadvantage. Because someone else is.

It’s no different here. This is a market. This is a race. Make no mistake, the best are at the head of the pack. They are professional level drivers. They are pro level writers.

How do you nose ahead?  

By fine tuning that engine.

All the beast!

Wulf Moon

 

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
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NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
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Posted : April 28, 2021 9:30 pm
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Reuben
(@reuben)
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I agree with everything here. However, I believe the original post was regarding pov in general, not just WotF -- which we know prefers third person. I was wondering whether we could discuss the general pov ideas for other markets. When I started researching markets, I found -- or thought I had -- several markets that did prefer first person, like Clarkesworld. Beneath Ceaseless Skies had a lot of first person stories as well, and I felt like it fulfilled their vision. 

One thing that particularly intrigues me is past v. present. What are its benefits?  What are its shortcomings?

I've never written a story in third person present, simply because I see pov as a spectrum, with third person past on one side, and first person present on the other. (I think of first person past as in between the two -- not quite so immediate, yet it still has retains some benefits of first person like character voice.) But what are the reasons someone would use third person present? 

 

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill
V37: R, R, R, HM
V38: SHM

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Posted : April 29, 2021 11:49 am
Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
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I have never tried present tense. Sounds like a challenge.

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : April 29, 2021 8:40 pm
Disgruntled Peony
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Posted by: @reuben

I agree with everything here. However, I believe the original post was regarding pov in general, not just WotF -- which we know prefers third person. I was wondering whether we could discuss the general pov ideas for other markets. When I started researching markets, I found -- or thought I had -- several markets that did prefer first person, like Clarkesworld. Beneath Ceaseless Skies had a lot of first person stories as well, and I felt like it fulfilled their vision. 

One thing that particularly intrigues me is past v. present. What are its benefits?  What are its shortcomings?

I've never written a story in third person present, simply because I see pov as a spectrum, with third person past on one side, and first person present on the other. (I think of first person past as in between the two -- not quite so immediate, yet it still has retains some benefits of first person like character voice.) But what are the reasons someone would use third person present? 

 

Different magazines have different preferences, I think. I know Beneath Ceaseless Skies prefers close perspective and detailed narratives, which a well-written first person story will probably make happen.

I'm very tired, so there's probably more nuance to this, but I seem to remember deciding at some point that the benefit of past tense is that we know things have already happened. (Also, it's a very common tense in fiction.) The benefit of present tense is that things are happening now, so there's more uncertainty about the outcome.

By this (potentially flawed) logic, third person present is probably most applicable when you want the descriptive elements of third person but the uncertainty of outcome that comes with present tense.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
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Posted : April 29, 2021 8:46 pm
Agathon
(@agathon)
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Posts: 62
Posted by: @reuben

I agree with everything here. However, I believe the original post was regarding pov in general,

Sorry for highjacking the thread

Agathon McGeachy
Figure Sculptor, Mechanical Designer, Reformed Rakehell, Writer
Vol 37, Q2: HM
Vol 37, Q3: HM
Vol 37, Q4: HM
Vol 38, Q1: R
Vol 38, Q2: the waiting is the hardest part
Now in print: NIWA 2020 Anthology 'Escape' available on Amazon
Coming soon: NIWA 2021 Anthology 'Forbidden'

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Posted : April 30, 2021 6:06 pm
idelaney
(@idelaney)
New Member
Posts: 3

My two cents on the topic: there are no rules. The first book I ever bought on writing science fiction was The Science Fiction Handbook (Revised) by L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp, published in 1977. I've lost it during a move somewhere but I do remember that they stated, in no uncertain terms, that fiction was written in the past tense, men were always referenced by their last name and women by their first.

Ender's Game first appeared in Analog magazine in 1977, so it's not unreasonable to assume that Card was playing by the same rules that De Camp laid out.

Fast forward to 2016, and N.K. Jemisin wins the Hugo award for The Fifth Season, written in second person present tense. Her next two books in the series win the award the following two years. POV and verb tense don't matter, as long as you're consistent and can make them work. Heck, even grammar and punctuation don't matter, if you're good enough.

Consider this passage from Iain M. Banks' 1994 novel, Feersum Endjinn:
"Av got a very good view ov thi fass-towr from heer. Am ½ lyin & ½ sittin craidled by thi babil branchis & am lookin up fru a gap in the filyidje @ thi dirti grate hooj ov thi cassils centril towr."

And half the book is like that. If you're good enough, and brave enough, and your story demands it, you can write it any way you want. But unless you're a Jemisin or a Banks, be very careful about pushing the boundaries. 😜 

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Posted : May 2, 2021 1:08 pm
czing
(@czing)
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Posts: 163

I write in 1st and 3rd, mostly past tense with occasional forays into present. Sometimes I can tell I've selected the wrong one for a story (either POV or tense) because I keep slipping over into the other one. If I do too much of that I try to step back and think about why.

That was something from Le Guin's Steering the Craft that struck me - she said that sometimes if a story isn't flowing or isn't working it could be a problem with that (I think she said this about POV but I personally have applied the idea to both POV and tense).

So I think it is helpful as a writer to write using various combinations because it could save a piece you want to write but can't get over the finish line.

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Posted : May 9, 2021 7:36 am
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
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Posts: 984
Posted by: @czing

I write in 1st and 3rd, mostly past tense with occasional forays into present. Sometimes I can tell I've selected the wrong one for a story (either POV or tense) because I keep slipping over into the other one. If I do too much of that I try to step back and think about why.

...

So I think it is helpful as a writer to write using various combinations because it could save a piece you want to write but can't get over the finish line.

I've totally made notes in a different tense than the story, and had to look them over to decide which I liked better. Some stories fight it, trying to tell me what to do.

Which is sort of what happened with my Q3. The rewrite was a POV change. Risky to go from a common/established one to a less common/published one, but it seemed the right thing to do.

Guess I'll find out in four months if it worked.

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2x Semi
6x Silver
9x HM
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Posted : May 10, 2021 6:02 am
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Scott_M_Sands
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@craydimensional

Same, Cray. I don't think I head-hop drastically, but it's been pointed out that I do it sometimes. That's too much. I've appreciated when critiquers/BETA readers have pointed it out.

I'm not sure about new scenes, though? Whole scenes? One of my stories had a full scene (ending) written from the perspective of a different character to the prot. Not sure if this is a good idea or not. I mean, I think it works with mine, but I also thought my stories are flawless! (not really, but it's sometimes funny what I don't see until another reader points it out)

Thoughts, anyone? Is changing POV for a full scene okay?

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
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Posted : May 31, 2021 7:05 am
Wulf Moon
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Posted by: @scott_m_sands

@craydimensional

Same, Cray. I don't think I head-hop drastically, but it's been pointed out that I do it sometimes. That's too much. I've appreciated when critiquers/BETA readers have pointed it out.

I'm not sure about new scenes, though? Whole scenes? One of my stories had a full scene (ending) written from the perspective of a different character to the prot. Not sure if this is a good idea or not. I mean, I think it works with mine, but I also thought my stories are flawless! (not really, but it's sometimes funny what I don't see until another reader points it out)

Thoughts, anyone? Is changing POV for a full scene okay?

It’s common in novels, but dangerous in short stories. You have to if the protagonist dies at the end and you want your denouement to say, “Yeah, she died, but she didn’t fail. She saved our world.” But if you’re writing in 3P close, or what I call 3P intimate, you’re telling the story entirely through the heroine’s perspective. Why break that power, which should be building and building in each scene. Sure, once you’re famous, you can break any rule you want because you know how to make it work (and rabid fans will gobble up anything you write, even your grocery list :). Until then, practice, practice, practice a skill until you have mastered it. How do you know you’ve perfected it (along with all the other skills you need to craft a pro story)? It will sell to a respectable market, like this one. There’s your proof positive you did it right, at least for that editor. But pro editors know these POV basics, and they know when you’re breaking them. Why put them to the test? They’ve told you what they’re looking for, at least, at WotF they have. Write to what the market calls for, what the editor calls for, and you’ll have more success. Deviate at your own risk, and what will likely cause another shiny certificate on your wall, but also another lost chance to win the contest and get your story published and read in a bestselling anthology.

I know I’m being direct here, but I’m saying it to all. I’m trying to help.😊

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"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Posted : May 31, 2021 11:11 am
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 123

@wulfmoon

Thanks for your thoughts Moon, as always. 

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : May 31, 2021 6:29 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1093
Posted by: @wulfmoon
Sure, once you’re famous, you can break any rule you want because you know how to make it work (and rabid fans will gobble up anything you write, even your grocery list :). Until then, practice, practice, practice a skill until you have mastered it. How do you know you’ve perfected it (along with all the other skills you need to craft a pro story)? It will sell to a respectable market, like this one. There’s your proof positive you did it right, at least for that editor. But pro editors know these POV basics, and they know when you’re breaking them. Why put them to the test? They’ve told you what they’re looking for, at least, at WotF they have. Write to what the market calls for, what the editor calls for, and you’ll have more success. Deviate at your own risk, and what will likely cause another shiny certificate on your wall, but also another lost chance to win the contest and get your story published and read in a bestselling anthology.

I'm of two minds about this advice. On the one hand, I definitely agree with getting a feel for the basics before moving on to more advanced concepts. On the other hand, the best way to learn new things is to try them. I understand that a lot of writers here are still learning, but I'd argue every writer is always learning, because every new story requires a different skill set than the one before.

I understand wanting to win the contest. The thing is, I've never come close to winning by playing it safe--and once you get into the top eight, any story has the potential to win. The stories that get published in the anthology every year follow basic story structures, yes, but they also take risks. They stand out from the pack.

In Volume 36, "Educational Tapes," by Katie Livingston, comes to mind. It's written in second person. Not first, not third--second. She took 1st place in her quarter, which means she's eligible for the Golden Pen when they do the dual ceremonies this year. In Volume 35, "Thanatos Drive," by Andrew Dykstal, was written in present tense, and that story did take the Golden Pen. So, yes, experimenting with one's craft can be risky, but it can also be very rewarding if one does it well enough to catch Dave's eye.

I'm gonna get weirdly wholesome here and quote Mr. Rogers, because I watch him every day with my kids, so why not?

If you want to ride a bicycle and ride it straight and tall

You can't simply sit and look at it 'cause it won't move at all

But it's you who have to try it, and it's you who have to fall (sometimes)

If you want to ride a bicycle and ride it straight and tall

You've got to do it

Every little bit, you've got to do it, do it, do it, do it

And when you're through, you can know who did it

For you did it, you did it, you did it

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : June 1, 2021 7:08 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2186

@disgruntledpeony

I love Mr. Rogers, and watched his program as a child. But I haven't been sharing the advice of Mr. Rogers. I've been sharing the strong advice given by all three instructors that I personally listened to at the Writers of the Future Workshop in Hollywood, Liz. They are also your judges as you submit to this Contest. So it is good to pay attention to what they say, as I know for a fact they have strong feelings in this area. 

I will quit beating this dead horse now. But I will always say if you know the judges of a contest have strong feelings about a certain style, why put them to the test? You can indeed win in spite of their strong beliefs if you write a powerful story--I sure did--but isn't it a nice fact to know about? And isn't it possible some of the eight finalists don't make final three because it was written in a POV the judges strongly dislike? Of course that's possible--it takes very little to tip the scales when the stories are so close.

I will continue to share what was taught to the winners at the Writers of the Future Workshop. I believe the information is of value to all those aspiring to win this Contest, whether or not they wish to apply it to their work.

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Posted : June 1, 2021 11:42 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 344

@wulfmoon and @disgruntledpeony, I do think that both of these arguments carry weight, and it's good to be aware of both.

In the end, if you are torn between multiple POV styles without any one standing out -- or if you're torn between writing two stories that feel like they'd be equal -- then Wulf's advice takes precedence. The judges do prefer 3pp, so all else being equal, it's a strong choice to make. However, if you know with confidence (just as with Wulf's winning story) that the story will be stronger using a different POV, then it's also good to know that WotF history shows that, despite that preference for 3pp, the winning entries have often crossed a spectrum of POV and tense styles.

If you have to make your story weaker in order to fit a specific preference, you're definitely not making a good trade, because the goal is always to submit the strongest possible entry that you can--and the biggest preference of all the judges is for strong stories. Knowing the judges' general preferences is absolutely an advantage to entering any contest, but feeling that you absolutely must meet every single one of those preferences could easily be the opposite.

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 4 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q3.V38 / Q4.V38 currently in crit/revision stage
Last result: SHM for Q2.V38
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

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Posted : June 1, 2021 12:38 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1093
Posted by: @wulfmoon

@disgruntledpeony

I love Mr. Rogers, and watched his program as a child. But I haven't been sharing the advice of Mr. Rogers. I've been sharing the strong advice given by all three instructors that I personally listened to at the Writers of the Future Workshop in Hollywood, Liz. They are also your judges as you submit to this Contest. So it is good to pay attention to what they say, as I know for a fact they have strong feelings in this area. 

I will quit beating this dead horse now. But I will always say if you know the judges of a contest have strong feelings about a certain style, why put them to the test? You can indeed win in spite of their strong beliefs if you write a powerful story--I sure did--but isn't it a nice fact to know about? And isn't it possible some of the eight finalists don't make final three because it was written in a POV the judges strongly dislike? Of course that's possible--it takes very little to tip the scales when the stories are so close.

I will continue to share what was taught to the winners at the Writers of the Future Workshop. I believe the information is of value to all those aspiring to win this Contest, whether or not they wish to apply it to their work.

I get what you're saying, I promise. I can also safely say that both of my semi-finalists and non-winning finalists were written in third person, past tense. However, they haven't won, and every time I come that close and don't hit the mark, I wonder what I might have done to make my story stand out better. Does that mean I have to deviate from third person past tense? No. I still write a lot of stories like that, but I've been enjoying other options.

I'm not saying to go against the judges' advice. I'm simply worried that if people always play it safe instead of experimenting and trying new things, it might stifle their creativity--and if we can't be creative and write for the fun of it, what's the point? Even if we make story sales and earn scraps of money here and there, our hearts won't be in it, and odds are good we'll give up and move on to other things.

I'm all for knowing the advice the judges give. Never going to argue with that. I've just found, over the course of my writing career, that not all advice works for all people, so I like to make sure people know alternatives exist. That's all.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : June 1, 2021 3:13 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1093
Posted by: @doctorjest

@wulfmoon and @disgruntledpeony, I do think that both of these arguments carry weight, and it's good to be aware of both.

In the end, if you are torn between multiple POV styles without any one standing out -- or if you're torn between writing two stories that feel like they'd be equal -- then Wulf's advice takes precedence. The judges do prefer 3pp, so all else being equal, it's a strong choice to make. However, if you know with confidence (just as with Wulf's winning story) that the story will be stronger using a different POV, then it's also good to know that WotF history shows that, despite that preference for 3pp, the winning entries have often crossed a spectrum of POV and tense styles.

If you have to make your story weaker in order to fit a specific preference, you're definitely not making a good trade, because the goal is always to submit the strongest possible entry that you can--and the biggest preference of all the judges is for strong stories. Knowing the judges' general preferences is absolutely an advantage to entering any contest, but feeling that you absolutely must meet every single one of those preferences could easily be the opposite.

That's a good balance, sir. grinning  

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : June 1, 2021 3:15 pm
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Member
Posts: 93
Posted by: @time

Flash Fiction Online has a free course at the moment. FREE How to Write Flash Fiction Crash Course | Flash Fiction Magazine It’s brief and okay. Pretty well seen it all before.

Hate to be that gal, but FFO (flash fiction online) is different from FFM (flash fiction magazine). 

I was shocked at first to see that FFO offered a free crash course since I'm a first reader there and had no idea. They do have very helpful videos about what they look for and what to avoid when submitting to them: https://www.youtube.com/c/flashfictiononline

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : June 1, 2021 7:53 pm
TimE liked
TimE
 TimE
(@time)
Silver Member
Posts: 339
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk

 

I was shocked at first to see that FFO offered a free crash course since I'm a first reader there and had no idea. They do have very helpful videos about what they look for and what to avoid when submitting to them: https://www.youtube.com/c/flashfictiononline

I was just checking to see if anyone reads the post! (You passed.)

I've watched most if not all of the FFO videos. I found some of them very good. None of them are long, and if i recall correctly they are very much aimed at the writing end of the business. 

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Topic starter Posted : June 2, 2021 1:36 am
Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

After quite a bit of elbow grease on my 3QTR entry on keeping with 3RD person limited, I handed it over to my final 2 readers who have read all my works so far. For this first time, they didn’t quibble with words. They said send it in, it’s best story I’ve written. So I guess 3RD person limited can be powerful. I appreciate all the tough love here.

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : June 4, 2021 5:17 am
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 123

I usually write in 3rd person POV, rarely 1st POV. But I naturally sway toward 3rd omniscient. Still working on how to really get some of the same meaning across and staying in 3rd limited. have tried to get across some world building info through dialogue but I have to be careful to avoid As You Know Bob. 

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : June 5, 2021 6:19 am
Wulf Moon liked
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