Since I first met JULES BENNETT at a Cincinnati book signing several years ago, I have grown increasingly impressed with her ability to balance writing and family. She is a talented and prolific author, patient and friendly with struggling authors and – as you can see – one of the most glamorous writing moms you’re likely to meet. I’m excited to introduce – JULES BENNETT!
So, you need to get into your characters’ heads? This is a mandatory place for you to live during the writing process. In order for them to be “real people” on the page, they need to be “real people” in your head.
Sounds easy, yes?
But then you get to the computer all set to go and…nothing.
Let’s look at how we can not only get into our characters’ minds, but put it onto the paper (or screen) in a way that our readers will gasp, sigh, laugh and cry because they are experiencing everything you wanted them to.
So what is Deep Point of View? I admit when I first knew I wanted to write, I really had no clue what this was. I’d heard the term, but I needed clarification and was too embarrassed to ask. Thank you, Google.
Deep Point of View is to writing, what acting is to actors. You MUST become the character(s). Have you ever read a story where you just weren’t feeling it? Maybe you couldn’t justify the character’s actions or you didn’t feel as emotional as you’d hoped. This is when that Deep Point of View is missing.
How do you know which character to give a scene to? You want the character with the most to gain/lose to be the one stealing the scene. But, if your story is solid with conflict coming from all angles, both characters should have something to gain or lose. Dig deeper to find who has more at stake and that’s how you’ll know if that scene should be in their POV or not.
Now, we’ve all read those stories where we close the book (or turn off our electronic device) and hug it to our chest…you know, with that happy sigh and satisfied smile. That’s when you know the author has really dug deep into the characters and brought every emotion, every thought to the surface.
The point of view is what will help keep readers turning that page, unable to put down YOUR book and pick up one from another author. You want them to not only finish your book and be delighted and overflowing with joy and telling their friends, but you also want them to seek out your other work. Pulling readers into your skillful web is done by weaving a believable plot and having your characters seem like real people and totally relatable all the while giving them over the top yet realistic problems. Yes, that is all one giant oxymoron which is why we spend a good chunk of our time banging our heads against the wall…or maybe that’s just me.
When I start a book and the characters are fresh in my mind, I do a few exercises if I feel they aren’t fully developed enough to start Chapter One.
Questions you can ask yourself when first plotting and creating characters are:
*How are they feeling at any given time?
*How would they react to the conflict given their background and current circumstances?
*What are their goals and motivation and how will they get to them?
All actions and dialogue needs to fit with that particular character in order to have a nice, even flow of your character. Now, there are instances when characters are transformed in the midst of the book, and then you need to reevaluate his/her actions and verbiage.
There are authors who do Deep POV so well and you may find yourself asking how they can get that deep into the mind of their characters. Simple answer? They know those characters as well as they know themselves.
Another little thing I do before I write the book is jot down the basics of my characters (usually just the main characters). It may seem time consuming to you, but it shouldn’t be. Even a few minutes will really help pull out even more information about your characters. Make a page of necessary traits, physical attributes and their goal.
I’ll give you an example of a character on a book I recently turned in. She’s an organic farmer and it’s winter so she’s doing a lot of indoor gardening to keep food stocked for the winter. Here’s the list I made for her:
~ Keeps work boots by back door
~ Reads tips on gardening in the winter (magazines, online articles)
~ 28 years old, always wanted a family of her own
~ Still scarred from miscarriage shortly after her boyfriend left town years ago
~ Bank acct is a laugh, but she’d rather be poor than to be under the thumb of her hoity-toity parents
See? Just a few things to give you a great starting base as to what that character is all about.
Now, when I really want to get into their heads a little deeper, I have been known to create a journal page for them. On occasion I’ll get stuck on a scene and I have no idea how my character would act or what they would do. If that happens, take ten minutes, put yourself in that character’s shoes. How would you react if you were in that position of your character? If you had all the conflict and life drama he/she does, what would be the most logical choice? Or, if you really want to shock readers, what would be the one thing that is total opposite? What would really stand out, yet still be justified for that particular character?
Your characters aren’t the only ones with a point of view. I believe the scene itself has a point of view. Sound crazy? Welcome to my world.
But, we’ve all written them. The scenes from hell. The scenes that are totally boring, totally dead and totally ready to be deleted, never to be seen again.
Most of the time these scenes can be revamped. Actually, my whole first draft is garbage most times. But I keep writing because of invaluable advice I was given years ago: “You can’t edit a blank page.” That advice has helped me conquer SO much!
Even if the words aren’t what I want them to be, I keep going. I can edit and fix the scene later. At least I have a base to work with.
Now, there are those occasions where I just delete the scene, but most times I can salvage something from it. I’ve found more often than not, when I stop overthinking the scene and relax, the unexpected happens and completely changes the story for the better.
The main thing you need to know about a scene is that it is like a mini-book. Each scene (each GOOD scene) should have a beginning, middle and end.
When I say beginning, middle and end, I don’t mean at the end of that scene you should leave a spot for the reader to close the book. I mean it should still be open-ended so the reader will stay up all night and rave the next morning how your work stole their sleep.
But, each scene should be little mini stories in moving that plot forward. Make sense? No? Welcome to the world of writing.
Each scene should have an impact on the story, driving it forward to keep your reader turning pages. If your scene plays no real part in the hero or heroine’s ultimate goal or adds to the conflict, it’s time to say “adios.”
Can you think of a book that you were so excited to read and then once you were into it you started drifting? Maybe you were thinking of your laundry, your grocery list or even cleaning your sink drains? If that’s the case, then you know it is a dead scene.
What about those days when you’re not in the mood to write? Then what?
Moody, table for one?
I assume the majority reading this are women (any dudes scroll down just a tad, please). Women are moody by nature. God created us that way to drive men insane.
So, how do you concentrate on work when real life is falling apart? Seriously?! Ball practices, sick kids, sick hubby’s *Lord help us* and bills, grocery trips, school assignments…I’m exhausted thinking of it all and I still have to fit in work?
We all have moments in life that make us emotional, whether it be excited and overjoyed or ready to burst into tears. Life doesn’t stop just because we have characters talking to us in our heads.
Let me categorize your moods with scenes you could be working on. You will see how well having mood swings works with writing a book. It truly is like therapy.
MOODS vs. SCENES
Tearful = Black Moment
Angry = Black Moment
Excited = The Beginning
Bored = Love Scene (that will perk up your mood)
Overwhelmed = Happily Ever After scene to boost you
Do you see how this works? I’m not one to write scenes out of order. I’m very nerdy and detailed. BUT, I usually have a rough draft done pretty quick and I will work on scenes depending on my moods because my mood will pull the best of my emotions out and onto the page.
If my rough draft is not ready for my mood writing, I will jot notes down. I have notebooks for EACH book I’ve ever written! I’d be a hot mess if I didn’t keep notes on every detail I wanted to add. My memory bank is very small.
I’m going to give you a few examples of how I’ve personally used my moods and life happenings to create my stories.
In 2010 and 2011, my youngest daughter (who is now 5) was very little. She had numerous health problems that forced us to make an insane amount of trips to and from Children’s Hospital every three weeks. This trip is 4 hours round trip so each time we went was a very long day. This took up a good chunk of our lives for a little over a year.
I obviously had deadlines during this time. I had to write in the car, in waiting rooms, in hospital rooms, all the while praying for my baby to get better.
Now that was A LOT of emotional scenes, let me tell ya! But I would use the good news from doctors and thread through some joyful times for my characters.
A few months ago my father was taken to the ER with chest pain. The saga of my father and his heart disease is ongoing and has given us countless trips to the hospital, 9 stents, quad bypass and this last visit was because 2 more valves collapsed.
Yes, I was under deadline. I packed my laptop to his hospital room and worked for 4 days. I worked through laughing at his bedside, and I worked after I cried my eyes out in the hall when the doctor gave us some not so pleasant news.
I used each of my emotions, high and low, to create believable scenes that would hopefully touch my readers’ hearts and pull them deeper into the story.
No matter what is going on, you still have to push through it. Life will not stop just because you have deadlines. This is your work. We don’t have paid days off so take whatever emotion you’re feeling and turn out the best scene you can!
This is the best way for me to pull the most of my characters’ feelings onto the page. I seriously have to use my mood and my attitude in that moment to showcase the most realistic scene.
I hope this helps some of you. I’m always happy to answer any questions!
Are you clear about Deep POV? Go ahead and ask Jules if you need some help.
Join us Friday when JORDAN MCCOLLUM returns!
American romance author, Jules Bennett, has been touching the hearts of thousands of readers since 2005. A former beauty salon owner, Jules juggled the demands of owning her own business, raising two small children and attempting to get home in time to cook her husband (also her high school sweetheart) dinner all while plotting the next scene in her head.
After twelve years of juggling the roles of beautician, wife, mother and romance writer, on very little sleep; Jules decided to hang up her shears and turn her part-time, late-night craving into her full-time passion.
Since beginning her writing career, Jules has had the pleasure of writing for The Wild Rose Press, Samhain Publishing, Berkley Publishing, and currently writes for Harlequin Desire.
Her first two books, HOME AGAIN and LOVE IN BLOOM with Wild Rose Press written in Jules’ sweet, sassy and sexy style started her path toward Harlequin Desire.
Jules was a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards and has also won writing awards such as the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, and the CataRomance Reviewer’s Choice Award for one of her 2010 releases, FOR BUSINESS OR MARRIAGE?
Her books have been published all over the world in several different languages: German, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek and many others. It still thrills Jules when she receives a foreign copy of one of her books.
A member of the Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s (COFW) a chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Jules participates in many conferences throughout the year. Jules also attends book signings to promote her books.
Her passion for writing romance has given Jules the drive to continue her dream and she has just contracted her 20th book! Her Hollywood series with Harlequin Desire has been a hit with readers and reviewers and in 2013 she will branch out with a new series from Samhain Publishing called “Scandalous.”
Jules loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her contact page and readers may like her fan page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to stay up-to-date on all the happenings in Jules’ writing life.
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- Category Romance: Ask the Authors, Day 1
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