Blog: Ah-Ha – A Study in POV

Ah-Ha – Take On Me video: A Study in POV

I previously blogged on the Ah-Ha video “Take on Me” in June. You can link to it HERE.

As mentioned, the story presented in the video resounds in me decades later. I use it for my “wake-up” alarm to go to work, encouraging me to take on the world and make a difference.

One of the interesting things about the video is the switching point of views (POVs) for the story. If you have been having problems picturing the differences between first and third POV, dissecting this video may help.

The opening starts with close first-person POV of the heroine. We glimpse her world in the diner, her reading the story for escape from the ho-hum, and her reaction to the hero breaking the fourth wall of the comic to invite her into his world. We see them fall in love. We don’t know why the male choose her or how he had the ability to reach out. That information is not available for her POV; at this point the story has all been about her and what she can see.

Now we switch to third-person omniscient. We return to the real world for a few minutes. The waitress discovers she has been left without the check paid. We see her react but don’t really identify with her as a person – only as a role. Omniscient has that effect; seeing the whole world keeps one from being emotionally drawn in. Next the third-person switches to the other drivers noticing the intruder to their world. The omniscient lets the viewer know what is happening and why, but not necessarily what the main characters are experiencing emotionally.

Initially the POV seems to have returned to the heroine, but it doesn’t actually. The running away, the music being played, etc. could be either first-person or close third-person. But then the hero saves the woman by returning her to the real-world. If we were in first-person heroine, we would not know he turned around to face the bad guys. This one panel lets us know what POV we are in. The switch to close third-person allowed us to know what is happening with both the main characters. The editor in me doesn’t like the amorphous POV at this point – it works for the video but if I ran into it in a story, I would ask the writer to more clearly define the POV. No head-hopping!

Back in the real-world we return to the woman’s first-person POV for the third-act of the story. We see the looming diner population, experience the fear and uncertainty overwhelming our heroine, and initiate the immediate reactions of rescuing the comic and running for her life. For a few seconds the video totally grabs and pulls a watcher in just like the black&white-sketch hand did with our heroine at the beginning of the video.

At her house, the pounding heart slows as she smooths the paper … and finds him dead. Her POV continues when she hears the crash and sees her hero throw himself out of his world into hers.

Would the story have worked if it remained 100% first person or third person? How would the story have changed without viewing the waitress’ actions or the male turning around after our main POV character left?

WRITING EXERCISE: For your present WIP, think about how you have used POV. Have you been consistent in usage? Would letting the reader know the antagonists actions help the story or decease surprises later on?

READING EXERCISE: Think about your most recent read. Was the POV consistent? Was there anyone else in the story you could have “followed” through POV and still have seen most of the story?

Writing Exercise: Writing Prompts

Image: Mark Lewis “Brave” –
Prompt: Jana Wilson “Thinking Out Loud” –


Writing prompts are great for beginning writers. My participation in a monthly one through (the now defunct publishing company) Breathless Press is how this blog started. Prompts come in many flavors, but two major categories: visual and verbal.

Based on a picture of some sort, visual prompts inspire a story through the eyes. The story may be based on the picture or just inspired by it. My recent “Glow” flash is based on a visual prompt from a writing group.

Verbal, or text, prompt come from words. Sometimes the requirement is to fit the words into the story and other times they just inspire. From the same writing group, I received a text prompt which resulted in “To Do List“.

Where might published writers be driven by prompts?

Anthologies are often theme-based, basically a verbal prompt. A couple upcoming anthologies include: Love and Bubbles – an anthology of romances which take place UNDER the sea (due 12/20/2017) – and Other Covenants – Alternate History involving the Jewish people (due 2/4/2018).

Visual prompts may come from being handed a picture to be the cover for a magazine and being told “Write something for this.” During the pulp fiction years, picture-driven stories were common as western, sci-fi, and fantasy magazines bought the rights to paintings.

Using prompts to prime the pump, get practice in writing, or just take a break from a long-form story can be fun.

WRITING EXERCISE: If you are part of a group which recently issued a writer’s prompt, write that story. Otherwise on a google search type in either “Writing Prompts” or “Writing Prompts Pictures”. Write a story of at least 200 words based on the result. If you want, post the results below including a link to where you got the prompt.

Other Cool Blogs: Civilian Reader August 1, 2017

Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Plans Change

“But-but-but…,” I stare at the screen, “You are not following the outline.”

The character looks back at me, smirking, “You want real characters, then we get to decide our own actions.”

Book Cover for Honestly

In Honestly, I had carefully set up a sexy encounter in the laundry room. And I waited, and I waited. Nothing happened. Eventually, Kassandra and Troy take Troy’s laundry down to his room. Whatever. I just kept typing. Suddenly, when I – the writer – have forgotten about things and Kassandra starts up the stairs again Troy stops the story.

“But…you…grrr….(sputter unintelligible things)” and then I typed.

The reason that scene is so organic is it just happened. I didn’t write it. My characters did.

Joshua Palmatier discusses the issue of the characters running off with story in a guest post on Civilian Reader. He had it much worse than my little hiccup. They didn’t change just one scene, but the whole final book of a trilogy to the point he needed to talk to his editor because the book he was writing wasn’t the book he sold them.

Important take away: “…if the characters don’t at some point take control and do unexpected things, then the book isn’t succeeding.

Geeking Science: Uranus Magnetic Field Flips

Image from Nasa

Worlds are opening up as we look to the stars and find planets. Many of the exo-planets found are gas giants, so the little information we have about our Big Buddies in the Solar System is becoming more and more valuable.

On June 27, 2017, Xin Cao and Carol Paty article “Diurnal and seasonal variability of Uranus’s magnetosphere” appearing in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space physics released to some minor shock and awe. Uranus’s magnetosphere is messed up. Not only is its spin axis 98 degrees off – making the planet’s path around the solar system more of a roll than a hover, but Uranus’s magnetic field is tilted at a 60 degrees angle.

The crazy rolling field twists around every day letting solar winds in some of the time, no doubt creating spectacular Borealis for whatever lives on the surface trying to figure out where the north and south poles are. The balance of the time, the magnetosphere pulls off the fan dance, hiding the naked gaseous surface from the winds.

How does the atmosphere of the gas giant remain in the gravity field instead of being blown into space by the winds?

And how many of the gas giants we have discovered outside our system dance like a drunken marble around their suns?

One way to find out is studying our Big Buddies a little more. Uranus’s only visitor has been Voyager 2 in 1986. NASA has possible missions heading that way next decade, maybe; feel free to write your Congressmen to make them a little more possible. I wonder what new mystery Uranus is going to reveal if we drop by again.


Abstract for Diurnal and seasonal variability of Uranus’s magnetosphere. (Last viewed 11/10/2017 – link did not work on 11/16/2017).

Uranus is Even Freakier Than We Thought by Rae Paoletta, 6/23/2017. (Last viewed 11/10/2017).

Editing Rant: NOT TO BE

Acquired from the internet Hive Mind

It’s baaack. The copula spider. (First post on the topic is Copula Spiders.)

The shiny wore off real quick on being a content editor. Two manuscripts and thousands (2% of the documents) from the “to be” family – mostly “was” and “were”.

           “Editors are to leave writers’ voices intact,” claims a would-be author. “My voice is passive.”

           “Your voice doesn’t sell.” I move to the next story in the slush pile.

I’m not the only editor, or writer, running into the problem. “Was” and “were” are easy to use. One of my friends fixing a returned manuscript, complained her editor (not me) marked all the “was’es”.

“Was! Oh bane of my existence! Stop tormenting me … (cries)” she posts on Facebook.

New to content editing, I reached out and I asked her about it, and her editor replied (I guess my friend was still busy killing the “was’es” or crying, likely both as she said she averaged 5 was’es a page in her opus). The other editor wrote: “Basically ‘was’ is either taking the place of or weakening a stronger verb.“

Copula is “a connecting verb, in particular the verb ‘be’ connecting the subject and a complement”. The “to be” family includes: am, are, is, was, were, been, has been, have been, had been.

A copula spider happens when you circle all the was’es on a page and connect them. If eight or more legs result, you have a spider.

Was / were / is – the most evils of evils making writing weak. The Copula Spiders must be burned. Kill the spider. Have no more than five “was” ”were” ”is” on a page (one if an action sequence). Six would be a copula insect – and even those are unworthy of your efforts. Remove any of them running through your manuscript. Kill the spiders – burn the house and rewrite the section if you must.

READING EXERCISE: Find your favorite writer, action-based is best but any will do, see how many pages you go before you count ten copula usages.

WRITING EXERCISE: Take an action scene out of your present work-in-progress (WIP). Remove as many was-were-is from the scene as you can. Compare the original scene and the resulting scene for pace and verbiage impact.