PURPOSE

Practice writing a scene in the voice and worldview of a character in a scene provided.

This is one of the most difficult yet essential skills a fiction writer can master.  Creating a scene with dramatic action and purpose using the worldview and voice of a character in that scene.  Most writers write scenes, or even sections of stories, without thinking about narrative structure of the story narrative.  In contemporary writing, the narrator of a story is often the author, and all that goes on the page is generated from the author’s mind.  But great fiction often requires more to succeed at the highest levels of accomplishment.  It requires a broader view of the world than the author’s, and benefits when the author creates narrators with their own voice, perspectives, worldviews, experiences, opinions.  One of the benefits is augmented when the narrator (created by the author) is objective.  This allows easy credibility for stroy and characters, lessens need for suspension of disbelief, provides consistency in narrative perspective, and diverts an author’s need to proselytize, often with propaganda, by encouraging balanced revelation.

The narrator voice and point of view can deliver the story.  But sometimes the point of view shifts to a character.  And at times, creating a specific voice and character worldview can be very effective in delivering the story when in a character’s point of view.  (True even in 1st or 3rd person.)  Voice specific character point of view also helps characterization, orients reader (especially in dialogue), and often helps maintain awareness of story timeline.

This assignment challenges you to create a scene and narrate the scene in character’s voice, point of view, and worldview.  That means that thoughts and opinions, observations and judgments, morality and intellect, are consistent with the character (not necessarily narrator or author’s).  It is very difficult to pull off because it must be subtle, at no time breaking the reader’s involvement in the fictional dream of the story.   But consider how much information can be delivered about the character, and how much irony is created when the character’s perspective and biases are realized.

The scene is infamous in American history, the source of song, stories, essays, and political movements.  A lynching.  About 1930 in the South.  (see photo].  Write from the voice and point of view of the woman looking at the camera in the black dress with white spots holding the man’s hand.   Use your writing skills to create your own scene and reveal what you can about the woman, the situation, and the attitudes of the times.  Don’t let presentism1 creep in, that is bringing the thinking of the present into the past (that makes the scene lose credibility and makes the character unreliable)  You’ll have to be in the past on that exact day to make your scene live.  It will help you appreciate maintaining separate voice and point of view for a character (and narrator too).  Be sure to insert action and drama.

So, here are suggestions to get started.

Imagine your scene.  How long will it last?  Who are the characters?  Imagine them thoroughly.  Address how will you establish the setting succinctly but with clear imagery.  You can use internalization, and or dialogue along with narrative.  If you use dialogue, be sure to allow the reader to see the action happening in the scene, that is keep the reader aware of what is happening while the characters are speaking.   Keep your scene character-based and use narrative description judiciously.

If there are terms and concepts you don’t understand, try the Fiction Well, an onsite resource.

You’ll get the most out of the exercise if you do multiple tries.  And you can get help; you can submit you work for suggested revisions and comment.  And stick to it.  The process of thinking through the assignment will be valuable, regardless of your satisfaction level with the draft quality.

 


1 uncritical adherence to present day attitude; the tendency to interpret the past in terms of modern values and concepts


   Work submissions for Assignment 11: Writing a scene in the voice and worldview of a character

             The two niggers attacked Mary Kay Deary, beat and raped her. That’s what she said. It didn’t take much convincing to arouse the townsfolk. Now the niggers were hanging from a tree, and everyone was dressed up in their Sunday best for the spectacle. I wore my best dress.

            When I was a child, I used to swing on that very tree, on a makeshift contraption made of rope and a slab of wood. Old Jackson, a friendly nigger, made it for me. That Old Jackson was always nice to me. He whittled a little monkey from a peach stone. I wore it on a chain around my neck for years. It’s still in a box with my jewelry. I wonder what happened to him.

            Mary Kay and her husband, Tommy, live just down the street from me. Tommy’s coming now, with the bottle in his hand. No surprise, I don’t remember when I last saw him without a bottle.  

            “Hey Tom, we just now hanged them niggers.” It was Bobby talking, the Deary’s next door neighbor. “Where’s Mary Kay? I thought she would want to see this.”

            “Restin. She ain’t up to a picnic. Tell you what though; I’m going to burn em niggers tonight. I’ll bring her out for that.” He stumbled, almost losing his balance. Too bad Bobby grabbed him. He would have fallen flat on his face.

            I slipped away to avoid making pleasantries, while neighbors and townsfolk rushed past me to gather around Tommy. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I’ve seen Mary Kay bruised up plenty of times. Couldn’t always have been niggers. I backed away, keeping my eye on him, until I felt something bump against the back of my head. I turned to see what struck me.

            A cold, bare foot dangled in front of my face. I recoiled from the swinging appendage, choking back a bitter tang in my throat. Staring up at the lifeless body, I felt suddenly dirty; the nigger reeked of piss and shit. His face was bloated and blue. I bit my lip to suppress a gasp because he looked so much like Old Jackson. It wasn’t him of course; this man was much younger. How passively he hung there. How undignified.

            Suddenly, the body twitched. I screamed and fell backward in my haste to retreat. With a pounding heart, I looked up again. Death lay naked in his eyes. Somehow, his body had not received the message.

            I gave myself over to concern for my own dignity, scrambling up and moving away from the bodies, brushing twigs and dust off my dress. I thought no one had seen my fall because Tommy Deary was still drawing the attention of the crowd away from the dead men. But I was wrong.

            Sissy Haggler saw the whole thing. “That nigger give you a scare?” she sneered. “Or maybe not. You look like you feel sorry for him.”

            “Certainly not. Mary Kay is my friend. Them niggers deserve what they got.”

            “Damn right,” said Sissy. You stayin for the burnin?”

            “Sure am.”

 

            I didn’t though. I went home complaining of a stomach ache. I sat a on my bedside, fingering the peach-stone monkey in my hand, remembering old Jackson. I wondered if he had had a son.

Instructor Response

The two niggers attacked Mary Kay Deary, beat and raped her. That’s what she said. It didn’t take much convincing to arouse the townsfolk. Now the niggers were hanging from a tree, and everyone was dressed up in their Sunday best for the spectacle. I wore my best dress. Nicely done.

When I was a child, I used to swing on that very tree, on a makeshift contraption made of rope and a slab of wood. Old Jackson, a friendly nigger, made it for me. That Old Jackson was always nice to me. He whittled a little monkey from a peach stone. I wore it on a chain around my neck for years. It’s still in a box with my jewelry. I wonder what happened to him.  This is just great.

Mary Kay and her husband, Tommy, live just down the street from me. Tommy’s coming now, with the bottle in his hand. No surprise, I don’t remember when I last saw him without a bottle.  

“Hey Tom, we just now hanged them niggers.” It was Bobby talking, the Deary’s next door neighbor. “Where’s Mary Kay? I thought she would want to see this.”

“Restin. She ain’t up to a picnic. Tell you what though; I’m going to burn em niggers tonight. I’ll bring her out for that.” He stumbled, almost losing his balance. Too bad Bobby grabbed him. He would have fallen flat on his face.

I slipped away to avoid making pleasantries, while neighbors and townsfolk rushed past me to gather around Tommy. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I’ve seen Mary Kay bruised up plenty of times. Couldn’t always have been niggers. I backed away, keeping my eye on him, until I felt something bump against the back of my head. I turned to see what struck me.

A cold, bare foot dangled in front of my face. I recoiled from the swinging appendage, choking back a bitter tang in my throat. Staring up at the lifeless body, I felt suddenly dirty; the nigger reeked of piss and shit. His face was bloated and blue. I bit my lip to suppress a gasp because he looked so much like Old Jackson. It wasn’t him of course; this man was much younger. How passively he hung there. How undignified.  Terrific.

Suddenly, the body twitched. I screamed and fell backward in my haste to retreat. With a pounding heart, I looked up again. Death lay naked in his eyes. Somehow, his body had not received the message.

I gave myself over to concern for my own dignity, scrambling up and moving away from the bodies, brushing twigs and dust off my dress. I thought no one had seen my fall because Tommy Deary was still drawing the attention of the crowd away from the dead men. But I was wrong.

Sissy Haggler saw the whole thing. “That nigger give you a scare?” she sneered. “Or maybe not. You look like you feel sorry for him.”

“Certainly not. Mary Kay is my friend. Them niggers deserve what they got.”

“Damn right,” said Sissy. You stayin for the burnin?”

“Sure am.”

 

I didn’t though. I went home complaining of a stomach ache. I sat a on my bedside, fingering the peach-stone monkey in my hand, remembering old Jackson. I wondered if he had had a son.  Nicely done.  The contrast with story reality and inner feelings and thoughts is very effective.

 

Perfect.  Thanks for doing the exercise.  You skillfully worked in the things the exercise was designed to stimulate.  Overall, you’ve gained excellent control of your prose, and your storytelling can’t be beat. You admirably stayed within character’s point of view and world view.  And be proud of your imagination, it’s working well for you!

 

Best regards,

Bill Coles

  1. Thank you.

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3rd Submission 

The execution day of the black twins had finally arrived. Residents of all ages and professions have gathered in the center of town awaiting the moment of truth, as justice was about to unfold upon them. Although, for generations they were taught to criticize all those with colored skin and gullible minds, who often allowed the whites to take advantage of them without a fight, society’s lack of education was to blame for such primitive behavior. 

On the other hand, the justice system was crystal clear about delivering the people the fairness of following the law of the land, and no one was allowed to commit a crime without paying the time. Yet ,somehow the boundaries of serving justice was unfairly abused every time the blacks seemed at fault. Ironically, not everyone agreed to such terms including the Mayor’s wife Theresa Cowen, whose presence was rather necessary on such event. Although she was not of favor of violent punishment, it was her responsibility to accompany her proud husband, pretend to paint a smile on her pale face while in fact she felt no joy whatsoever. 

“I wish I didn’t have to here right now Tom. It’s true that both men have committed an ugly crime, but they sure don’t deserve to die dangling down a tree like animals.” She sadly expressed while feeling the last minute sympathy pulling her to look away from the crime scene that were all about to lively witness.

“They attacked the innocent people of the village, killing one man and burning his home to the ground.. They deserve what they have coming for them.” He replied without fear of God’s judgment while his human verdict was based on no more than hatred and a selfish sided opinion. 

“The man attacked them first. They fought back on the act of self defense. Perhaps they felt the urge to quench their thirst to justice by killing the person who tortured their families and poor wives, forcing them to work the impossible. They have the right to defend themselves, and we should have all heard and understood them before wrapping the ropes of death around their necks.” 

“No excuse is good enough to justify their doing, and nothing will release them from the hands of death. They are sentenced to die, and that is all there is to it.” He continued to incriminate the two prisoners, meanwhile death was approaching their trail and fast.

“What about their innocent children and grieving wives? What will happen to them next?” She then questioned afraid to think of the future of those who have no strength to think for themselves. 

“Life and death are the world’s own way of living. They will move on, and they will forget.” 

“No one can easily forget such tragedy. It will forever remain engraved in their hearts. Soon, they will come back and take revenge. Who knows, perhaps they will come after us.” Suddenly she feared the possibility of paying herself the price for a crime she was responsible for, even indirectly. 

“I am not afraid to stand by the justice system.” He then claimed while knowing how injustice the world around him was truly becoming, yet he had no courage to stand aside the wrong, or speak his mind freely. 

“But this isn’t justice.. Those men deserve a fair trial and an equitable sentence. Perhaps we could still offer them such mercy. We still have time.” She wishfully thought when it occurred to her leave his side in such a rush and save those who were in need of saving, when he quickly grabbed her arm and stopped her from going.

“It’s too late Theresa. You cannot change the waft of survival that we’ve been breathing for generations just because you don’t believe in the equity of the world anymore.” He then confessed when the cord of hope declared the death sentence and stole away another living breath. 

“If we continue to live in such denial, failing to see what is right in front of us, we will soon face the same fate of those innocent souls, before we find ourselves hanging down the ropes of murder, and on the hands of those who will seek revenge we shall die.” She said in a heartbroken voice before leaving him surrendering to the world of regret, unable to comprehend the seriousness of society’s actions. Around him stood the men of evil celebrating another shameful victory while the suspended bodies hung around the crowd so lifeless. 

Best,
Ramona

Instructor Response

This version is good.  Please keep working on it.  On the next version, the goal is to learn to write in third person (limited to one person at this time) point of view.  This is a very important skill and may take a little time and practice to grasp.  Be sure to reread points of view examples in third person already suggested.  Note how a writer writes through the eyes and ears and in the head of a third person character.  In other words, the story activity, and the characters responses to the story happening, are within the character’s unique point of view.  A writer is using the character in the story for the reader to experience the story through the character—what they saw, felt, smelled, heard, thought, memories evoked.  Look at this example.

3rd person
She stumbled down that cobblestone street in her crumpled wedding dress, her diamond engagement ring clutched in her right hand.  She tripped over her ripped, mud-soaked hem and fell forward putting her hands out to break her fall.  The ring was no longer in her had; had it fallen somewhere on the stones of the street?  She glanced around briefly before getting to her knees and then standing.  She didn’t care about the ring.  Let it be.  She hated her dress, now, too.  She kicked off her high-heels so she could run faster.  Tears  streamed down her face.  The humiliation of being left alone at the alter with all those friends and family staring haunted her and she wanted to be alone with the wounds to her heart that would never heal. 

This is the way you might right the scene.  In the narrator’s point of view.  (And I want you to see the excessive words, which can often detract from the story.  In most stories, it’s best to let the reader see the action that will not only advance the story but tell the reader about the character.  It is a pleasure for the reader to discover character through action most of the time.  When a writer depends on narrative description, overuse of ornate words, and a telling of emotions through modifiers words with inflated value, the reader enjoyment can be dulled or lost.)  So I’ll try to write as I think you would.  Note point of view and perspective is in the narrator (not the character) and see those words that are too much, over the edge, pressing credibility . . . many cliches.)

Narrator the way you might construct it.
With a heavy heart, her mind flooded with the rank humiliation of an unjust, unexpected, eternally painful abandonment at the alter from a treacherous, foul lover.  She abhorred the glittering diamond engagement ring, now never again to eternally grace her ring finger as the irrefutable stamp of potential fidelity and let it fall to the cobblestoned street stricken with mildew.  The ripped hem of her now infamous dress tripped her with unrestricted lack of concern for her safety and she tumbled like tumbleweed rolling in the wind to lie with her tear-soaked face in the dank mud of her ultimate disgrace.

Now I’ll write it in first person point of view to show you how different effects are obtained.

1st person
God, how my heart ached; anger pulsed in my temples so I thought I would scream.  My dress was torn, the white satin ripped to above my knees.  I kicked off my high-heeled shoes so I could run faster on the cobblestone street to a place to hide so no one could ever find me.  I slipped the ring off my finger, that lech of a fiancé’s treacherous gift, and I threw it to the ground and felt a lightness course through me, as if relieved of a slave’s burden.


3rd Person point of view: (2nd submission)

I’ve condensed the writing style.  I’ve cut more than 80% of the words.  See the difference.  It’s a skill we will work on over the next few weeks.  Saying thing succinctly in prose fiction.  To do that, ec=very word must count.  We tend toward more simple sentences that compound and complex.  And we try to keep to single ideas or images in a sentence or phrase.

No one should have suffered the way the black twins did, the day they surrendered themselves (died) to the injustice of the world, allowing the so called other mankind to torture their souls for eternity. Without a sense of kindness the men of anger gathered in groups of hate, to hang the ropes of death around the slaves dirty necks, when they pulled them down so hard, and up the tree they were silently suspended. (Angry men hung them from a tree.)

Together the siblings of earth marched the active crowd, holding hands in support of the ugly crime they all attended to watch in pleasure (note that this is in the point of view of those watching). With smiley faces drawn across their wicked selves and proud shoulders, they stood around criticizing the twin creatures, as they dangled down the branches without a breathing pulse. (The crowd jeered the dangling corpses.) In the heat of the moment no one seemed to care of the reasons behind their act, pretending as if no felony was implicated when in fact each one of them was involved and to a certain extent.  (The crowd cared not that no one was sure what the crime was.)

Perhaps the uncontrollable hatred of the white nation had taken a turn to the worst when they decided to end the lives of the innocents, and just because they were the people of color, yet they had no rights to commit such hideous actions.  (White men had snuffed out the lives of innocents.)

Meanwhile, the shallow apathy of the related couple that stood on the left side of the scene, was a simple example of the recklessness of those from around them, whose presence have highlighted and in bold colors their selfish minds and loss of compassion. Although the real blame had fallen in the arms of the ignorant society they all dwelled within, modern rather serious preaching was much needed to turn the table of humanity around in order for all the people to live peacefully together, not to please ones greedy wish, but to overcome the not so necessary inequity that separated all the people of the earth, and possibly forever.

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Big Daddy said them Niggers ain’t good for nothing but picking cotton and a damn good hanging. Boy, if Big Daddy could see me now. After this I sho could use me a cold beer and a smoke. Boy it’s some white folks out tonight Larry Baits and his wife, Dr. Ainsworths, Woodard Smith, and even the town’s drunk, Lesley. It just saddens me that these niggers don’t know they place in the world. I mean who do they think they are. Walking around here like this a blacks man’s world. Thinking blacks more than just nannies and wooly headed fools. I sho wish Mary Lou and momma could of come out. “Say Annie you want to go get some cold beers after this.” “Naw, I think me and Paul might ride to the country to see his mother, Fannie. You know she been sick.” “ Aww, Paul I sure didn’t know Miss. Fannie was sick. Tell her I hope she feels better. I might just stop by Sunday after church and bring her some of my Pineapple cake. I know how much she likes it.” “That sure would be nice Shelly”. “Annie girl looks like you are about to pop.” “Yea, Dr. says it might be any day now. I was hoping for a boy this time. Three girls already is a hand full.” “Well if it is a girl keep trying maybe that boy will come next time.”

Everyone in Crayville has came out to watch this hanging. There goes Lee and his gang with them cameras. “Hey Shelly how bout a picture?” “Why Frank Lee I would be honored. Let me find Ray.” “Here I am Baby.”  “Looks like one of them is still alive, Ray.” “Naw, Shelly they as dead as a door knob. We better hurry up and catch Sam’s café open. I sure could use that beer.” “Wait baby, Frank Lee and his friends want to take our picture. Stand close to me Ray. I know Big Daddy is smiling at me, huh Ray?” “Yep, he would be proud of how Crayville is keeping this town respectable and safe. The way it should be.” “Turn around and look Annie, Frank lee about to take our Picture.” “O, goodness if I would have known so many people would have turned out for this hanging I would have at least put on some rouge.” “You look fine Annie.” “Frank, make sure you get everything I want to remember this night forever. “Hold still everyone.”

Instructor Response

Excellent. You’ve captured the essence of the cold, cruel, evil of extreme prejudice. Well done. Strong dialogue. Effective dialect.

Challenge. Write this as if the photo is not available. All the responsibility for stimulating the reader’s imagination about the scene is the responsibility of the author. But caution. If not done subtly, you could dilute the effect you’ve created. (This is an exercise in providing setting and scene, in a well-done, perfectly acceptable short piece, so don’t think of it as a correction.) (Also, much of the scene setting for this piece woiuld be done in other, introductory paragraphs. This is just practice at integration of scenes.)

Suggestion of things you already know. To achieve imagery and engagement for the reader think of using all sense—smells of death, sweat of nervous, sounds of breeze in the trees, cackles from the crowd, the feel of bodies pressed together, the dry (or humid) air . . . you get the idea. Internalization is possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It might take away from the objective effect you’ve created without internalization. Narrative description, if used, needs to be succinct and not obvious. You could use few details that are acutely representative of the scene. Every image will be different for each reader, of course, and your stimulation of imagination would be for story purpose and characterization, not for photographic accuracy.

Would welcome chance to see what you can do. You have talent!

Best regards,
WHC

WORK of RT

Big Daddy said them Niggers ain’t good for nothing but picking cotton and a damn good hanging. Boy, if Big Daddy could see me now. After this I sho could use me a cold beer and a smoke. Boy it’s some white folks out tonight Larry Baits and his wife, Dr. Ainsworths, Woodard Smith, and even the town’s drunk, Lesley. It just saddens me that these niggers don’t know they place in the world. I mean who do they think they are. Walking around here like this a blacks man’s world. Thinking blacks more than just nannies and wooly headed fools. I sho wish Mary Lou and momma could of come out.

“Say Annie you want to go get some cold beers after this.”

“Naw, I think me and Paul might ride to the country to see his mother, Fannie. You know she been sick.”

“ Aww, Paul I sure didn’t know Miss. Fannie was sick. Tell her I hope she feels better. I might just stop by Sunday after church and bring her some of my Pineapple cake. I know how much she likes it.”

“That sure would be nice Shelly.”

“Annie girl looks like you are about to pop.”

“Yea, Dr. says it might be any day now. I was hoping for a boy this time. Three girls already is a hand full.”

“Well if it is a girl keep trying maybe that boy will come next time.”

Everyone in Crayville has came out to watch this hanging. There goes Lee and his gang with them cameras.

“Hey Shelly how bout a picture?”

“Why Frank Lee I would be honored. Let me find Ray.”

“Here I am Baby.”

“Looks like one of them is still alive, Ray.”

“Naw, Shelly they as dead as a door knob. We better hurry up and catch Sam’s café open. I sure could use that beer.”

“Wait baby, Frank Lee and his friends want to take our picture. Stand close to me Ray. I know Big Daddy is smiling at me, huh Ray?”

“Yep, he would be proud of how Crayville is keeping this town respectable and safe. The way it should be.”

“Turn around and look Annie, Frank lee about to take our Picture.”

“O, goodness if I would have known so many people would have turned out for this hanging I would have at least put on some rouge.”

“You look fine Annie.”

“Frank, make sure you get everything I want to remember this night forever. “Hold still everyone.” GREAT!

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3rd Person point of view: (2nd submission)

No one should have suffered the way the black twins did, the day they surrendered themselves to the injustice of the world, allowing the so called other mankind to torture their souls for eternity. Without a sense of kindness the men of anger gathered in groups of hate, to hang the ropes of death around the slaves dirty necks, when they pulled them down so hard, and up the tree they were silently suspended.

Together the siblings of earth marched the active crowd, holding hands in support of the ugly crime they all attended to watch in pleasure. With smiley faces drawn across their wicked selves and proud shoulders, they stood around criticizing the twin creatures, as they dangled down the branches without a breathing pulse. In the heat of the moment no one seemed to care of the reasons behind their act, pretending as if no felony was implicated when in fact each one of them was involved and to a certain extent.

Perhaps the uncontrollable hatred of the white nation had taken a turn to the worst when they decided to end the lives of the innocents, and just because they were the people of color, yet they had no rights to commit such hideous actions.

Meanwhile, the shallow apathy of the related couple that stood on the left side of the scene, was a simple example of the recklessness of those from around them, whose presence have highlighted and in bold colors their selfish minds and loss of compassion. Although the real blame had fallen in the arms of the ignorant society they all dwelled within, modern rather serious preaching was much needed to turn the table of humanity around in order for all the people to live peacefully together, not to please ones greedy wish, but to overcome the not so necessary inequity that separated all the people of the earth, and possibly forever.

Best,
Ramona

Instructor Response

Hi Ramona—

Give this another try.  Actually, it’s not in 3rd person.  You effectively present emotional reactions to the injustice in almost an essay format.  The writer is telling her thoughts and feelings about a terrible tragedy.  It’s great if that’s the goal.  On this next try, make it a story.  See if you can let the reader discover their feelings about the scene.  To do that, you need to create a story.  Something needs to happen.  Here is how a third person story might start and sound.

 

Jack and Hilda went down to Mayor Burnham’s yard with the big live oak tree to see what the commotion was about.  Hilda could hear it from their bedroom, shouts and yelps, crys and moans.  “Look,” she said to Jack as the got close and saw two blacks twisting on ropes ties to the limbof the oak.  “They’ve done it.” 

“’Bout time,” Jack said.  “Them uppity niggers.”

“I’m not sure they did anything.”

“Course they did.  Sheriff got ‘em to confess.”

She stopped at the edge of the crowd but Jack pulled her hand to move her to the front for a closer look.  He was chuckling.

 

                This is an important concept to grasp.  See how a story happening is being created.  See how the attitudes of characters are revealed in the dialogue.  See how snippets of the scene are introduced to give the reader something to visualize the scene and the characters.

                Look to other stories.  Identify 1st person stories and 3rd person stories.  Maybe look carefully at “The Amish Girl.”  It’s a story being told in 3rd person, that is a character identified, in this case Peter and the reader sees the Amish girl through the perspective of Peter.  The reader also discovers Peter’s thoughts and feelings on occasions.  The reader is not told by the narrator or author, but discovers Peter’s thoughts and feeling in his point of view.  And the story moves on.  Also read about POV.  You can start here.

 

1. Read

http://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/narration-literary-stories/http://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/1st-person-pov-in-literary-story/        

 

2. You might refer to this excellent resource:

Points of View: An anthology of Short Stories

James Moffett and Kenneth R. McElheny (Eds)

ISBN 0451628721
Multiple editions available. Excellent resource of stories by famous authors presented as a study of point of view. Worthy of purchase—any edition.

 

3. And you might search for multiple ideas on site in “The Fiction Well.”  Use the search term “point of view.”

 

Assignment work.

No one should have suffered the way the black twins did, the day they surrendered themselves to the injustice of the world, allowing the so called other mankind to torture their souls for eternity. Without a sense of kindness the men of anger gathered in groups of hate, to hang the ropes of death around the slaves dirty necks, when they pulled them down so hard, and up the tree they were silently suspended.  You are, as the author, speaking directly to the reader.  You use narrative description and tell the emotions and the outrage and the injustice.  It’s important to see that you don’t use a character point of view.  Also try to make up a story with a beginning, middle, and end to entice and inform the reader (see above).  In this piece, something doesn’t happen.  The scene is used to deliver (important) conclusions through telling.  It will take some time, but pause, read, and learn about point of view and how to use it in storytelling.

 

Together the siblings of earth marched the active crowd, holding hands in support of the ugly crime they all attended to watch in pleasure. With smiley faces drawn across their wicked selves and proud shoulders, they stood around criticizing the twin creatures, as they dangled down the branches without a breathing pulse. In the heat of the moment no one seemed to care of the reasons behind their act, pretending as if no felony was implicated when in fact each one of them was involved and to a certain extent. 

Perhaps the uncontrollable hatred of the white nation had taken a turn to the worst when they decided to end the lives of the innocents, and just because they were the people of color, yet they had no rights to commit such hideous actions.

 

Meanwhile, the shallow apathy of the related couple that stood on the left side of the scene, was a simple example of the recklessness of those from around them, whose presence have highlighted and in bold colors their selfish minds and loss of compassion. Although the real blame had fallen in the arms of the ignorant society they all dwelled within, modern rather serious preaching was much needed to turn the table of humanity around in order for all the people to live peacefully together, not to please ones greedy wish, but to overcome the not so necessary inequity that separated all the people of the earth, and possibly forever. 

Best,

Ramona

 

  1. Thanks again for the corrections Bill. I don’t want you to think I ignored your comments and suggestions. I was sick for the past two week meanwhile I was working on the 1st tutorial assignment. The revision of this exercise is in progress and I will submit it soon. Thanks.

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“Inside my comfort zone, I indulged my exhausted body and into the deep sleep I surfed, when all of the sudden I woke up in panic mode, desperately searching my non dreamy surrounding for the nearest exist. My heart was racing out of control, while my hands were cold and heavy like a block of ice. I could feel the sudden chill take over my entire body while smothering to take a deep breath, fearing for it to be my last.

What a horrifying feeling that was, as I recalled myself traveling my tormented dreams through the old passage of nightmares. Soon I realized that all of the black and white visions that I had unconsciously visited, were nothing more but a brutal reality, in which I was forcing my mind and heart to forever erase.

Although the history of my past life was somewhat gone with the wind, it was not completely forgotten, when the outdated pages of the 1930’s came rushing back to life reminding me of the ruthless person that I once was. In a blink of an eye, I departed my current world, to have found myself in the old times and in my vintage dress, standing between the barbarian crowd of a naïve society, as we all waited for the most savage execution ever. Back then, I was young and ignorant nonetheless proud of my white origins, as I watched the colored slaves pay the high price of each living breath with their own lives. I wasn’t the only one that showed up that day to watch such vicious event unfold. My brother George was there too, holding my hand as we stood in line ready to unleash our criticism and unreasonable hatred upon the unworthy ones, who’s bodies were hanging down from the mighty tree.

The two innocent men were just killed in the most rotten of ways, and right before our eyes. Why? Was it just because they were the men of color? Perhaps that was the only reason we used to hide our sins behind, yet it did not justify the purpose of our grudge against those weak humans, who had no powers to fight for themselves.

Who were the whites to judge another human being? And why did we not think twice before committing the most cruel act of the century?

Covered in the filth of the earth, they dangled down from the skies so lifeless. Meanwhile the seamy people cared nothing more but for the shameful fame they sought through the shallow screens of the filming cameras. Sure enough I was one of those superficial people, who was very much blinded by resentment and disgrace towards the poor’s. The poor’s who’ve wanted nothing more but to live fairly and equally, just like the rest of us. Sadly we refused to give them the one chance of humanity, yet we failed miserably to redeem ourselves when we chose to look the other way, by torturing their spirits to infinite death instead.

Perhaps the murdered souls of those blameless victims I once watched perish within the evil world, yet without a sensible closure, have found a way to resurface the forgotten land of living, nonetheless they have come back to claim their revenge, and adopt my life to the buried existence of theirs.” I furiously imagined without having the will to believe otherwise…

Best,
Ramona

Instructor Response

Ramona—

 

Excellent.  This is among the most challenging of assignments.  You’ve done well.  And you got to the root of the horror of it all so effectively.  I’ve highlighted a few clichés I’d advise you avoid when you can.  Your style is your own and effective, but consider varying the intensity of the language a little for variety and emphasis of your meaning, and look to not over describing.  For example, in “my hands were cold and heavy like a block of ice” for many readers “my hands were cold” would be sufficient, even stronger, without the metaphor “like a block of ice.”  It’s hard to relate a block of ice to a cold hand and the comparison doesn’t seem to augment the reader’s understanding of either term, or story significance.  (Search in “The Fiction Well” on site for “metaphor” for understanding complexities of metaphor.)  And you might review the effect of too many modifiers, some which may strain for effect and not succeed because of word choice the may not be totally logical or credible, or redundant.  I’ve highlighted some examples in red.  I’ve crossed through things that I think could be left out with the effect of intensifying the quality of the prose.

 

 

“Inside my comfort zone, I indulged my exhausted body and into the deep sleep I surfed, when all of the sudden I woke up in panic mode, desperately searching my non dreamy surrounding for the nearest exist. My heart was racing out of control, while my hands were cold and heavy like a block of ice. I could feel the sudden chill take over my entire body while smothering [wrong word] to take a deep breath, fearing for it to be my last.

What a horrifying feeling that was, as I recalled myself traveling my tormented dreams through the old passage of nightmares. Soon I realized that all of the black and white visions that I had unconsciously visited, were nothing more but a brutal reality in which that forced I was forcing my mind and heart to forever erase.

 

Although the history of my past life was somewhat gone with the wind, it was not completely forgotten, when the outdated pages of the 1930’s came rushing back to life reminding me of the ruthless person that I once was. In a blink of an eye, I departed my current world, to have found myself in the old times and in my vintage dress (Describe the dress so the reader can visualize it, vintage will mean deifferent things to different people and it is not specific), standing between the barbarian crowd of a naïve society, as we all waited for the most savage execution ever. Back then, I was young and ignorant nonetheless proud of my white origins, as I watched the colored slaves pay the high price of each living breath with their own lives. I wasn’t the only one that showed up that day to watch such vicious event unfold. (Already implied.) My brother George was there too, holding my hand as we stood in line ready to unleash our criticism and unreasonable hatred upon the unworthy ones, who’s bodies were hanging down from the mighty tree.

 

The two innocent men were just killed (?executed] in the most rotten of ways, and right before our eyes. Why? Was it just because they were the men of color? Perhaps that was the only reason we used to hide our sins behind, yet it did not justify the purpose of our grudge against those weak humans, who had no powers to fight for themselves.

Who were the whites to judge another human being? And why did we not think twice before committing the most cruel act of the century?

 

Covered in the filth of the earth, they dangled down from the skies so lifeless.  [Good.   I liked this.}  Meanwhile the seamy people cared nothing more but for the shameful fame they sought through the shallow screens of the filming cameras.  [This is confusing.  Too many words and ideas in one sentence.] Sure enough I was one of those superficial people them who was very much blinded by resentment and disgrace towards the poor’s. The poor’s those who’ve wanted nothing more but to live fairly and equally, just like the rest of us. Sadly we refused to give them the one chance of humanity, yet we failed miserably to redeem ourselves when we chose to look the other way, by torturing their spirits to infinite death instead.  [Interesting idea.]

 

Perhaps the murdered souls of those blameless victims I once watched perish within the evil world, yet without a sensible closure, have found a way to resurface the forgotten land of living, nonetheless they have

come back to claim their revenge, and adopt my life to the buried existence of theirs.” I furiously imagined without having the will to believe otherwise…   [Interesting idea.]

 

CHALLENGE

Write another piece now in third person point of view and perspective with a strong narrator presence.  In you present piece in 1st person, the 1st person narrator is looking back from a later time to a former time of the lynching.  So many of the observations are from the context of the narrator’s time of telling the story.  In this new segment, keep all the observations and feelings consistent with the immediate time of when the photo was taken.  And bring the reader into the moment (See the appendices in Story in Literary Fiction: A Manual for Writers for examples of in scene and in the moment writing.  You may have to buy the PDF for 2.00, there is a free example on line but the appendices are not included, although everything else is.)

So in third person in scene, the writing might go like this.  Maud’s hand felt the dry skin of her husband, smiling at the dangling bodies of the lynched men swinging on ropes from a branch of a live oak.  How insensitive he was to the injustice, his arrogance blending into the excitement of the crowd that murmured with pleasure at the site of the dead men, bolstered by the feelings of comradely accomplishment they all felt.

This is not good and is not what you should do.  I just wanted to give you an idea of how 3rd person in scene would sound.

Give it a try if you have time.  Eager to see what you can do with it.

Regards,
Bill Coles

 

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