Point of View II – First, Omni, Third

Self Editing for Fiction Writers

Self Editing for Fiction Writers

Yesterday, I talked about “headhopping.” That’s jumping from one character’s POV into another’s head in the scene. If you write this way, you’re in good company, but it’s jarring to the reader. In Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, they open Chapter 3, Point of View, with a short passage from Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. It’s an example of headhopping.

“Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove is a powerfully written book, yet some readers find it hard to get involved in the story, in part because of passages like the above. The characters are clear, the dialogue has an authentic feel, but in the second paragraph we’re seeing the scene as Joe sees it, in the third we’ve switched to Elmira, and in the last paragraph we’ve switched again, to July. We never settle in to a single point of view.” (Page 41) The passage is page 40. We’ll see it below.

This chapter explains the differences between first person, omniscient, and third person. My favorite way is third person, because if you write only from first person POV, you’re only going to get one person’s POV. It can be a very powerful vehicle, but keep in mind, it’s only one person’s perspective.

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No Headhopping Allowed

sol stein on writingWhat’s “headhopping?” Simply stated, it’s multiple points of view within one scene. It’s jarring to the reader, and it shows me, the reader, that the author doesn’t have a complete understanding of Point of View (POV). Mostly I read it in either poorly edited books or self-published books.

Blunt people would call it “headhopping.” Let’s say we’re writing a scene with three characters, Bob, Dick, and Sue. Headhopping would mean that we might start out with Bob’s POV, but about halfway through the scene we read a sentence or a paragraph of something from Dick’s POV, in other words, something only would know or think about at the time. Then, at the end of the scene, we might read something from a totally feminine way of thinking, that’s Sue. It’s confusing to the reader. I’ve read scenes like that. I used to write them like that – before I knew better.

Sol Stein, in Stein on Writing, says, “The term point of view as used by writers is mis-defined even in good dictionaries. It means the character whose eyes are observing what happens; the perspective from which a scene or story is written.” Page 141 gives you a POV checklist in ten bullet points to help you examine your own work. I’ll give you a couple for free.

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New Book Review – Beyond All Dreams

by Elizabeth Camden

by Elizabeth Camden

I just posted a new book review under the book review tab. Check it out. It’s Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden. It’s available from any Christian bookstore in paperback currently. The ebook should be available in about a week or so.

Here’s the link to the book review: https://donnalhsmith.com/book-reviews/beyond-all-dreams/


No Resolutions – Just Plans

I learned a LONG time ago, that New Year’s resolutions don’t work. We’re not committed enough to them. And why wait until New Year’s Day, or the beginning of a month to start something new?

I’m finding that if I want to change something about myself, I have to contemplate it, then plan it, then implement it. I don’t know why it takes me so long to do it. It just does. I’ll use a Fast as an example. People always want to lose weight after the holidays. Why wait?

Photo via Flickr

Photo via Flickr


I think about it. If I decide to do a fast, I think about it, and think some more about it. My flesh practically screams at me when I think about it – maybe it’s because in 2006, I did a 40-day partial fast. I did what would be called a Daniel Fast for 21 days, then a liquid fast for 19. By the end of it, I’d lost 25 pounds, unfortunately it didn’t stay off, and I was beginning to feel hungry. Really hungry. I couldn’t even be around food. I was supposed to go to a political interest banquet, but I found I couldn’t. No way.

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MY version of The Year in Review

DSC00876This blog only began in February – it’s not even a year old. I started it about the same time the other blog I contribute to also began – When Readers Write. Here’s the link: http://whenreaderswrite.com. It’s getting an overhaul and will be fiction central, if you love to read fiction.

At the commencement of this year, I was still a chocolatier, producing, packaging, and shipping organic chocolate truffles across the country, especially for Valentine’s Day. I made the decision in January to close that business, to concentrate more on my writing, and being intentional about it.

I felt urgency about several things after I closed the business and started this blog. I felt an urgency to get as much done on novel revisions, my writing Craftsman class, and the contest I was entering the novel in early March. I’m glad I heeded that urgent warning.

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2014 in review – thank you

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. I want to thank each and every one of you who has read and commented on my blog. This blog has done better than all my other blogs put together. Thank you again for your support and let’s have a great 2015 together!

We’ll be talking about writing, about my journey, and all kinds of other fun things. Thanks again.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Day After Christmas

Gift WagonWhat will you be doing today? Exchanging gifts, hitting the After-Christmas sales, seeing extended family, going back to work? Is the “day after” Christmas a time to get things back to normal? Was Christmas Day just another day for you?

I’m not sure what I’m doing today yet. I definitely will not be doing the After-Christmas sales. My husband will be going back to work. I have no gifts to exchange or take back to a store, so I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do some reading. Maybe I’ll watch a movie or listen to a CD. Maybe I’ll get in touch a few friends and ask how their Christmas Day went.

Chances are though, that I’ll be looking forward to next year. It’s only six days away. Amazing to think of it. This year has gone so quickly, although if you’d have asked me last spring, I would have said it was going very slowly. Because of my broken wrist, I could do nothing. I’m typing two-handed right now, and have been for about six months. Whew, does that make me feel better! There’s only a scar and a bit of immobility left to remind me it happened. Oh, except for all the pictures my husband took while we were in Israel with my arm in a cast and sling. I had to learn to persevere. I’ll be talking about that next week as well. I’ve talked about it some before, if you look at my past posts from April and May.

I guess I’m looking back a bit today in preparation to look forward. I’ll be doing more looking back at the year next week. What will you be doing? Do you have great party plans for the New Year? This blog is about my writing journey, and sharing my writing resources with you, which you seem to like.

Bethlehem Today

A star symbolizes the place where Jesus was born

A star symbolizes the place where Jesus was born

Have you ever stopped to think about why we celebrate Christmas when we do? Because it’s likely that the baby Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. I believe early church fathers decided to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Winter Solstice and to give believers something to contemplate and revel in during the shortest days of the year when life seems bleakest.

But I’m sure Jesus doesn’t mind when we celebrate His birthday. I think He’s happy that we do. That we give to each other as He gave Himself for us – and let’s not forget the Wise Men. They were the first men to give presents at the birth of a special baby whom the stars had told them would be a great king. They gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Mary and Joseph would need the gold for expenses when they fled to Egypt. Frankincense and myrrh were valuable spices and perfumes.

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Christmas Traditions – Old and New

Our genuine 50+ year old Silver Christmas Tree

Our genuine 50+ year old Silver Christmas Tree

When I was growing up, we had a Christmas Eve tradition of hamburgers for supper. I loved ’em because hamburgers were my favorite thing to eat. Mom didn’t make them terribly often, so to have them on Christmas Eve before presents were opened was special. My dad’s parents were there, my brother, and sometimes Mom’s Mother, Grammy, joined us. It’s a tradition about Christmas that I loved.

Later, after our church started having a Christmas Eve service, we went after opening our presents. It was always the same service. “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” It was a candlelight service that began at 11:00 p.m.

But I need to back up. After hamburgers, we’d all go into the living room. We’d sing Christmas Carols, often I’d play piano and lead the singing. Then, we’d read the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. THEN, we’d open presents. We always left the envelopes, if there were any on the tree branches, for last. Because the envelope always represented something too big to put under the tree. After all the presents were opened, we had snacks. Cookies, fruit breads, soft drinks for us kids, coffee for the adults, and peppernuts. I’ll explain peppernuts in tomorrow’s post.


What I’ve pictured is my father-in-law’s genuine silver Christmas tree from the 50s/60s. See how the flash highlights the trumpets at the end of the branches. I love that. This is the third year for this tree. Unfortunately, both the color wheels have either busted or melted, so we just put it up a few extra ornaments people give for this year’s Christmas.

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Are you ready for Christmas?

My holly bush with snow

My holly bush with snow

I’ve got Sleigh Bells burning, a Village Candle, to put me in mind for Christmas. Our authentic silver tree with blue balls is up in our Great Room, but unfortunately we don’t have a circular revolving light wheel that currently works. One is melted, the other’s in pieces. But I don’t need decorations to make me feel in the holiday spirit.

As I shared on Thanksgiving Day, as we age, our family shrinks, and so we’re more about local friends, seeing them before and after Christmas, and generally taking it easy. I wrote a short story if you want to look at it called “Nothing to Give” and posted it on Monday. It takes place on Christmas Eve in 1871 rural Kansas. Jamie Rich doesn’t think she has anything to give, so why has Pastor Edwards asked her to come to church that evening and to the refreshment time afterwards?

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The Mickey Mindset

Celebrating the Art of Disney Storytelling

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