Updated: May 8
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a creative writer named Sam.
Now, this creative writer (named Sam) wrote all his stories in a third-person, past-tense, objective point of view. Which was perfectly fine. His stories worked. They had interesting plots with likable main characters, decent dialogue and good settings.
Yet he couldn’t help but think there was still something missing in the mix. There was some higher level of creation – something better than “good” – he could reach if he only knew what it was and how to get there.
Sam tried to shrug this feeling off more than once. But try as he did, he found himself pining for an affordable tutor. Someone who could guide him to become a better, more engaging creative writer.
He would even settle for a free writing-specific e-letter service that could give him new insights into his craft!
If only there was one to be found.
For the record, Sam, there is. A free writing-specific e-letter service does exist to give you new insights into your craft.
It’s called The Genuine Writer, and you can sign up for it right here. Better yet, you can do it without signing your life away in the process. Because it's completely free.
Always a nice concept, I know.
Less easy-peasy, but still highly helpful, is our Writing Challenge below.
Write a scene out in first-person present tense.
Writing in first-person (e.g., I came, I saw, I conquered) when you’re not the “I” in question can be rather tricky. And writing in present-tense (e.g., I come, I see, I conquer) is an even better way to drive yourself insane since we’re so much more accustomed to recounting stories that have already happened.
That’s why I don’t encourage first-time fiction writers to pick a first-person or present-tense point of view to narrate an entire manuscript from. However, drafting a single segment this way can be extremely enlightening.
Perhaps a single segment like the silly one I wrote above about Sam and his quest to become a more compelling creative writer…
Here’s my off-the-cuff, first-person, present-tense objective version of my off-the-cuff, third-person objective point of view we started out with.
Hello, my name is Sam. And I’m a creative writer.
It sounds like a bad thing that way, doesn’t it? As if I’m an addict who needs to admit and conquer who I’ve become.
Really though, it’s nothing so dramatic. I’m just a creative writer who writes all my stories in a third-person, past-tense, objective point of view.
Why? Because it seems to fit the best. Because that’s what most readers want, and that’s how I feel most natural conveying my creativity. Moreover, my stories work that way. They have interesting plots with likable main characters, decent dialogue and good settings.
All of which I'm happy about.
Happy, but not content.
I swear that there’s some higher level of creative writing that I’m missing. Something out there I haven’t discovered yet…
I know I didn’t finish the story snippet, but I don’t think I have to. Hopefully, you can see what I’m talking about.
By switching the narrator’s point of view, I’ve switched my authorial one as well. Suddenly, Sam isn’t quite so silly and melodramatic. He becomes a more realistic, believable figure since I have to think like him in order to depict him.
In a very large sense, I have to be him. In “real time” too. And, as a result, I take him, his thoughts and his actions more seriously than I otherwise might have – whether intentionally or not.
Feel free to try turning this second version back into a third-person objective point of view if you’d like. Or practice the concept on your own stories.
When you do, you might find you’ve found that higher level of creative writing you (and Sam) were looking for.
Speaking of such, stay tuned tomorrow for a point of view problem you probably need to know.
Editor’s Note: Read the next post on point of view here.