LUW Conference – Notes Part 2

Loads of notes to go, so be prepared for tips, tips, and MOARRR tips!


POV is the lens through which your story is being told. It’s the battery of the story, it’s what drives the story in the first place. POV can make or break a story. Let’s start with Harry Potter (because as Kate and I know, Harry Potter is the best example for everything).

Why is Harry the POV character? How does Harry provide the right lens? How does Harry provide the battery? With Harry we have an outsider so it seems natural for Harry to have things explained to him—which in turn are explained to us. If it was the POV of, say, Ron Weasley, he wouldn’t wonder about the magic of his world because he grew up with it.

Let’s go over the types of POVs:

FIRST PERSON. It is the most common in youth fiction. But it can be easily flubbed. Some of the pros are you can be right in the character’s head and feel what they feel. But some of the cons are your story is limited in its perspective. Even though first person is common in youth fiction, don’t automatically default to it. Take time to weigh all the options and decide whether this perspective is actually best for your story.

But before writing in in first person, learn how to do 3rd person well FIRST!

SECOND PERSON. Unless you want to continue on writing some Choose Your Own Adventure books, don’t. Just don’t.

THIRD PERSON (omniscient).  In this POV, the narrator can see all things at all times. It commonly moves between heads. The master narrator knows all.

WARNING: Today’s readers aren’t familiar with it. Which means, especially for newer writers, this is a very dangerous road to tread down. Avoid omniscient unless: 1) You were born by 1920, 2) You have the other POVs down, 3) You have a publishing track record and fan base will stick with you, 4) Your last name is Sanderson (as in Brandon Sanderson).

NOTE: Most new writers mistake third person omniscient for the ability to headhop. This is NOT third person omniscient. For a good example of TPO, read Watership Down.

THIRD PERSON (limited). You are in one character’s head at a time. You can vary it by changing how close the mental camera is. It is the most common POV today. When in doubt, use third person limited.

Okay, you’ve chosen third person limited, but exactly how many characters can you narrate from? How many is too many? A good rule of thumb is just two or three but not more than four at the max. The reason for this is your reader’s need someone to empathize with and root for. If you have too many characters they need to get to know they won’t be able to build up a connection with any of them and won’t have any interest in the story overall.

When picking the right POV for the story or the scene ask yourself: who has the most to lose in this story/scene?


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WFC – Dialogue Panel

In following with a pattern of sorts, I feel like one of my writing strengths is dialogue. So this time I decided to send the ego out for a break and find out if there was more I could learn. It’s good to strengthen your weaknesses, but even better to build up your strengths, right?

This was presented by Mette Ivie Harrison who spelled dialogue as dialog, which apparently is technically correct, but it bothered me the whole time! People, it’s D-I-A-L-O-G-U-E. Okay, enough of that. Onto the notes.


Characters can talk about themselves to other characters. People naturally reveal themselves to others in conversation, but it must be comfortable. Avoid ‘uh’ ‘um’ etc.

Examples used: Code Name Verocity, Life As We Knew It


Each character wants something different. Each character should have a different verbal style to get this. One could be passive, the other aggressive. Shouting is not the only way to show conflict in dialogue. Whispering, twisting words, sarcasm—all work as well.

Example used: An Ideal Boyfriend


It can reveal information that is necessary for the resolution of plot, but be careful how you approach it. And it can resolve problems and conflicts.

Example used: The False Prince


But be careful of maid/butler dialogue. Those scenes where almost completely unimportant characters reveal the one piece of vital information that moves the plot forward. They can even be semi-important characters, but whose only purpose is to convey that information before disappearing completely or being killed. Point being, if they already know it they won’t talk about it. (This is something I didn’t like about Dr. Whatshisface in Pontypool.)

If you use this method, have a character who is ignorant be involved in the conversation. Or have the conversation be between two people who debate the info given. Take Harry Potter, for example. (KATE!) Because he doesn’t know the world, then he can explain it to the readers naturally.

JAE NOTE: At this point she generally quit selecting samples from other works and stuck to the ones she knows: her own. Sure, it’s perfectly fine to do a bit of shameless promotion of your own stuff. I don’t know that I’d feel comfortable even doing the one example. But anyway, it caused me to wonder if she doesn’t take as much time to read other things? I mean, go to Harry Potter if you need examples for crying out loud! 😉 Does anyone else feel like this was a bit self-serving? Anyway, for the rest of these, just go find one of Mette’s books, according to her.


Make the reader feel something is not the same as the characters feeling it. The characters may not react to pain, but the reader will. Characters may also not be able to cheer for a final kiss, but readers will.


Silence can be as potent a response as any paragraph of words. There is more than one way to convey silence. You can use misdirection figuratively and say everything but what will gradually become clear to the reader is truth (for that story. Also, I didn’t quite get what she meant. I think lead your readers down a wrong path, all the while laying the groundwork that shows them the truth they arrive at in the end was there all along).

Anyway, one of my favorite dialogue scenes is between Han and Leia. Because they knew Han’s character well enough, they knew this scene should play out exactly like this:

We were running out of time, so 7-9 she did rather fast. I couldn’t make many notes before she read more samples from her books.

#7 Use a twist to make your dialogue pop.
#8 Witty banter is an old classic of great dialogue.
#9 Zingers make great dialogue.


But don’t overuse them. If it’s clear which character is speaking, you don’t need a tag. Don’t tell us the emotion conveyed if it’s already obvious.

Example used: The Queen of Attolia

JAE NOTE: She wanted to put in desperately for one of her samples, but I think you should write it so we can conclude that it is desperate. It’s harder, but your readers will appreciate it more.


Despite a few bothers, I still enjoyed attending this forum. All of these points served as good reminders. I intend to take all the points and see if they help me find areas where my novel’s dialogue could be improved.

Did you learn anything new? What are your writing strengths? Is dialogue one of them? Do you agree with her advice? Disagree?

How to Edit Your Novel: A Series

I’ve been promising an editing/polishing series for some time now and here it is. Ta da!!!


Okay, editing really is that exciting, just not necessarily in every moment. Because I guarantee if you put in the sufficient effort and if you’re not afraid to strike and strike hard you will always come out with a better story than you had before. That’s the point of editing—to take your baby and raise it into something awesome.


I’m going to start with the obvious parts. You’re going to have typos in this new baby you just birthed and a good edit will get rid of them. For those of you who already know these parts, I congratulate you. Bear with me as we remind everyone else of the basics. The basics are important.

1. Spell Check. It requires almost no effort on your end and yet it saves you hours of what people back in the day before word processors would agonize over. Hopefully you’ve had it turned on and fixed most of those red underlines as you went along. But you may have missed some. So first off why don’t you go spell check that newly crafted novel of yours so all the obvious mistakes get out of the way. Go on, get!

2. Grammar Check. This one doesn’t always work, but it certainly can help sometimes and is worth a look at least once. I’ve especially found it helpful in figuring out lay, laid, lie, lying, lain. It may catch other things like double words such as this this kind of mistake. This is easy stuff you can do without much thought, so make sure it gets done.

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