Monday, September 7, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks

This week author Catherine E. McLean joins us with her tip. Fantasy, futuristic and paranormal romance writer Catherine E. McLean is celebrating the release of her latest novella, Hearts Akilter, from the Wild Rose Press.


A couple of years ago, author and writing instructor Tim Esaias calculated there were 9,720 variations of Point of View (POV) and Viewpoint. I've seen the calculations. He's right.

It's also a fact that POV and Viewpoint are the most critical aspects of storytelling. So, if there's one piece of advice I would shout— no yell— to novice writers, it is to stop writing and take the time to read about, learn, practice, and master— yes, MASTER— Point of View and Viewpoint.

Why go to all that trouble? Because mastering POV and Viewpoint means fixing ninety percent of the problems in a manuscript. Doing so also means readers will turn the pages because they are engrossed and enjoying the story.

The second piece of advice, but which I would whisper to a novice writer, is the secret to comprehending POV and Viewpoint is realizing they are two separate things (despite the "experts" using the terms synonymously). Here are the simple and straightforward definitions:

POINT OF VIEW is the Storytelling Narrator at work relating the story to the reader. It answers the question: Through whose eyes is the story (or the scene) being observed?

Did you notice the words "narrator at work?" That's because when a reader reads, they hear a voice coming off the page, which is the "narrative voice." That voice will often be the story's "focal character," also known as the protagonist. Yet that narrator's voice could be the author's, one of the other major story characters, the story's storyteller (the voice-over guy), or omniscient (as either "god" or the "fly-on-the-wall"). In all instances, that Storytelling Narrator has a "very distinct voice" due to their diction, vocabulary, and syntax, which the reader hears when reading the story.

VIEWPOINT is how that narrator characteristically filters information and sensory perceptions, either consciously or unconsciously, while observing what's happening.

That narrator is highly opinionated. They can be accurate or inaccurate. Their judgment may be subjective or objective, or it may fluctuate between the two extremes. This makes the narrator of the story or scene open-minded or closed-minded, ethical or unethical— a coward or a hero.

Which means the narrator's opinions about other people, and how the narrator deals with those people in any given situation, will be compounded by the narrator's biases and personal prejudices. For example: Characters A, B, C, D, and E look at a glass of water on a table. Because the five can see that glass, they will report what they observe— they will narrate— but look HOW they relate what they observe:

    A - "It is half full of water." (Optimist)

    B - "Don't be an idiot, it's half empty." (Pessimist)

    C - "That's just a glass with water in it." (Realist)

    D - "Why do you humans concern yourself with a glass containing water?" (Baffled Alien Being)

    E - Marsha couldn't believe the conversation had deteriorated to analyzing a glass of water. (Omniscient)

Each of the examples has a distinct voice because the writer conveyed the narrator's voice onto the page. If you didn't hear the differences that means you need to cultivate a better inner ear, which is another reason to master POV and Viewpoint.

Talent will take a writer only so far. It is craft that enhances and liberates talent. Best of all, craft can be learned. So, take the time to master POV and Viewpoint. Your readers will appreciate it.

Excerpt from “Hearts Akilter”

The bomb. Right. Dismantle the bomb. In this lift? No, that was insane. “Marlene, if the bomb goes off accidentally—”

“It’ll blow the station to kingdom come?”

He nodded.

“Not to worry.”

She said that with such nonchalance that he found himself speechless. He cleared his throat. “Why not? Did you snatch the portable Bomb Disposal Unit, too?”


 “What’s better than a BDU?”

“Garbage incinerators.”

“What?” He glanced out into the darkness beyond the lift.

Giant machinery stood silhouetted and veiled in shadows. “Where are we?”

“Deck forty-three, Ring D zero three. Relax. Don’t panic.  They once accidentally incinerated a torpedo in number four, over yonder.”

She pointed to the left. “Nobody heard or felt it explode, and there wasn’t even a drail’s worth of damage done to the incinerator, or anything else.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It happened three years ago. I was there, a deck above.

Never mind.”

Henry manipulated his finger appendage, grabbing and briefly tugging the shirt sleeve of Deacon’s good arm. “Marlee would never lie about anything so important.”

“Does she lie about unimportant things?” He instantly regretted his caustic remark.

“I do not know.” Henry spun sideways, facing Marlee. “Do you lie about unimportant things, Marlee?”

“I have been known to tell a white lie now and then to spare someone’s feelings, but on the whole—” She looked away from Henry.

As her blacker than black eyes met his gaze, Deacon felt pinned to the wall.

Buy Links:
The Wild Rose Press:

You can find Catherine at:

Thanks Catherine, for dropping by and sharing that great writing tip. 
Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.


  1. I really appreciated reading this tip today. Thank you for sharing, girls.

  2. This is so important to digging into a character. Great tip!

  3. Melissa, Vicki, and Jessie--thanks for your comments. I'm glad you found the post informative and helpful.