It’s a Matter of POV: Toughen Up

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by Ane Mulligan

Years ago when I first started writing, I wrote short drama sketches for my church. The first one got published and every one after that. Then I turned my hand to novels. After a few months and 125,000 words, I found an online critique group.

When I received my first critique, I discovered I knew nothing but good dialogue … and I mean nothing! I’d never heard of POV and had no idea what it even meant. Show don’t tell? Don’t use adverbs? And Omniscient was something God was.

No, I didn’t have any problem accepting hard critiques. The difference was, while they were hard, I never saw them as harsh. It’s all a matter of POV. Writers need to read critiques from the POV of being taught – not attacked.

We need to trust our crit partners won’t let us get away with anything less than our best. We need to grow to where we don’t need compliments. The biggest compliment I can give my CPs is to send back a chapter with no suggestions or corrections. I read with an editor’s eye and a sister-in-Christ’s heart.

What do I mean by a sister-in-Christ’s heart? The mind set that God deserves our best not our leftovers. Leftovers are the easy way out—not removing superfluous adverbs in contrast to spending twenty extra minutes looking for just the right verb instead.

Leftovers are not spending the time required to get the character’s motivation shown-not-told on the page.

Even if you’ve already got an agent, have been close to a contract, you can still get a low score on a Genesis entry. Fiction is subjective. We all know that. But instead of ruffling your quills in indignation, change your personal POV. See teaching not attacking.

You’ll be glad you did. You’ll add another layer to your rhino skin and you’ll be more willing to kill your darlings.

Ane Mulligan OctPresident of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane Mulligan is a multi-published playwright and humor columnist for ACFW Journal, as well as being a three-time finalist in the Genesis contest. Her debut book, Chapel Springs Revival, releases in 2014.

Comments 0

  1. Thanks! I think the thing that is difficult for newer writers is it’s so hard to cut those darlings. The “darling” is so good, and they’re sure they’ll never do another as great, but they don’t realize it does nothing for the story.

    WHat I did was keep a file and save them there, knowing they’d be called for later. Funny, I never did put them back in, and I learned I could actually think up more! I think that’s the fear ~ not sure if you’ll ever create another as wonderful. ;o)

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