Contributed to Hoosier Ink Friday, September 28, 2018
The first writing rule I learned was to tailor each chapter to specific character’s point of view within a story, or use things like scene changes and/or time differences to smoothly switch between them. Before, I tended to jump heads amongst my characters.
Following the guidelines, I can still voice a character’s inner most thoughts in the midst of tension or change when my characters interact, which is essential if I want readers to connect with what is happening.
Why does it matter?
Because like the conflict in our stories, real life is full of change, and just as we endeavor to smooth the way for our characters to be understood, life change requires a little finesse, too.
Transitional life changes have the tendency to cause a ripple effect in once still waters. Marriage, re-marriage, divorce, death, job change, and retirement are just a few common curves in everyday life. Any of those events usually reaches beyond the people directly involved, to touch the lives of relatives, friends, and even co-workers.
For example, the move of a family across town may affect the children more than the adults. Probably because while most adults maintain their friendships even after a move, for children, a new school zone typically means they need to start over—make new friends.
The death or divorce of a couple affects the children, regardless of their age. The repercussions invariably differ—meaning handling the hurt might be a little easier for those out of the house than for those still at home, but the loss of a once intact family unit still affects everyone attached.
Like learning a character’s thoughts through their point of view, effective communication with everyone involved can help them deal with change as it occurs. Interestingly, time and/or a scene change can aid in that process, too.