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    Second Person? Wait, who uses that?

     

    you

    Two weeks ago, when I attended the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, I sat on a panel where a speaker was reading from his up and coming book. I was excited. I love moments where authors can come and read a few lines of their work to give an idea of a point they want to make. Anyone can talk about anything but if you have nothing to back it up, i.e. proof, your words tend to fall to the waste-side. Anyway, he starts reading from his book and subconsciously I’m ready to hear the pronouns he, she, they. Ignorant of me, I’m sure, but at the same time I also knew that I could also hear I and me as well. Third or first person, either one I was certain I was about to hear.

    You, Your, Yours

    I was suddenly the protagonist. For a second my mind paused. You? What is that? But just as quickly as I pondered what I was hearing, it clicked. This was second person. The author decided to write his novel in second person. 

    My initial reaction was that of surprise. When I first started writing, back when I lived, slept and breathed fan-fiction, I had a friend who defied the odds and wrote in second person. He was very good at it. Other than that I can count on one hand the number of books I have read in my lifetime that use the second person motif. I doubt I’d even use one finger to calculate the total number. 

    My second reaction was a question, internally of course, wondering who uses second POV. Majority of the time people use third and their are those who use first. Again, back to my fan-fiction days, I used to write in first and I would have people come, review and say that they hated reading any stories in first position. I always figured it is a person’s preference what they like and don’t like to read but now that I am on a different platform of expressing my creativity I often look back at that and wonder how that’s possible. That’s an idea for a different post. 

    Second person is not widely known like its popular counterparts and with third point of view garnering different avenues of its own, second continues to get further and further behind the curve. Despite it dipping in the popularity contest, there authors out there with books written in second position such as: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney and Booked by Kwame Alexander (who spoke at this years Writer’s Digest Annual Conference) 

    A simple search on Google or on Goodreads can give even the most curious writer a sense of what second person is all about. 

    Listening to the passage he read, it made me appreciate this point of view a lot because he didn’t fall into the traps that most people probably would using this point of view. Starting each line with the word ‘You’ could grow old very fast but if you can incorporate it (see what I did there) into your writing then you will have readers call in love with your style of story telling. 

     I have never personally used this point of writing but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t want to try it out. The challenge of the second-person is to get into the reader’s thoughts without forcing said thoughts. It should have a natural feel. The last thing you want to do is pull your reader out of the story. 

    If you are interested in writing second person and don’t know where to start then my suggestion to you is to read works that use this as their way of story telling. Yes, I’m sure there are how to books on the market for this exact purpose, but I feel none of them would be able to give you a complete understanding of the best way to use second person. If interested, the two books listed above can give you an idea of how second person is used and there are plenty more out there.

    Have you ever read a book written in second person? Have you written in second person? Let me know in the comments below. 

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    diy MFA – Knowledge without going to College!

    diy

    Get the knowledge without going to college!

    If I were still in school going for a MFA degree then I’d consider this book to be my student handbook

    Recently, as of May 2016, I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Accounting and Finance. A huge accomplishment and solidified even further when the diploma showed up on my doorstep. It put everything in perspective but at the same time I made me crave continuing education even further. A doctorate? Maybe one day. 

    No, this time I was considering what I love to do more than look at spreadsheets and numbers. I wanted a degree in writing. Having never had one before, always going down the business track of life since I ventured into college years ago, I knew I couldn’t just jump into getting a MFA degree. 

    A Master of Fine Arts degree is what you need to be a writer. I’ve heard that a few times and I will admit, I sat around wondering the same thing. Is this really needed? Surely writers at least have a degree in Creative Writing, right? That is a start toward a MFA degree. But is it needed to become a published author? Well, this book will tell you that it is not and goes into great detail to prove its point. 

    Written by Gabriela Pereira, with a foreword by Jacquelyn Mitchard, diy (do it yourself ) MFA (Master of Fine Arts) explores the writer’s option to perfect their craft within 288 pages of information that proves that a MFA degree is nice to have but not necessary. 

    With so many how to do books on the market from how to write suspense (review on that coming later), using POV, character development etc, it’s easy to say that the author is correct. Why would you need to go through getting a MFA degree when there are so many books on the market that is just as good as racking up tuition fees.

    diy MFA gives you a little bit of everything from creating compelling characters, bringing said characters to life, choosing the right POV and even how to generate ideas on demand. Having never gone the route of a MFA I can say it is refreshing to get an idea of what it would be like if I ever decided to go down that road.

    However, can I say that this book can replace anyone’s idea of getting a MFA? Well, no, I can’t do that. Why? If you want to go for your MFA degree then no amount of words that I say (or type) will change your mind. Some people will want the experience, learning from someone in the front of a classroom and having that interaction that a book just cannot provide. To you who feel this way then I applaud your reserve and wish you the best in your education. diy MFA even explores this in the second chapter of the book with myths that people believe about a degree in MFA. Such myth’s such as: 

    1. You need an MFA to Teach Writing
    2. The MFA is a shortcut to Getting Published
    3. An MFA Program will force you to make writing a priority

    Without you having read (or maybe you have) the book, I can tell you the simple answer to all three of these myths is an outstanding no. However, the book goes into further detail and I would suggest you read it if you feel the answer should be yes for one or more of the above. I can tell you honestly for myself I was on board with #3 as being true. How I saw it was I’m paying money for this degree so it’s going to make me use it and make me sit down for hours on end (when I’m not doing my full-time job) and write, write, write. The book answers this by saying “If you can find time to write only by putting your life on hold and plunging into a graduate program, then your writing career isn’t going to last very long.” Now, I never figured I would put my life on hiatus but the author has a point. I am going to go 2 + years for a degree in the hopes it makes me focus more and write? Can’t I do that now? Train myself to do that now without a degree? Yes, yes I can. 

    I am still in the middle of completing this book so I cannot give a full review, and I’m not going to. What I want to do is review this book by chapters that inspire me and in the long run will help me improve my writing.

    I obtained this book while attending the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference and it was, and continues to be, a great piece that I purchased that weekend. In no way will I say that this will completely take away the idea of going for a degree in writing. I’d be lying if I said that, however, it sure has silenced the thought for the time being. I look forward to moving forward and learning more in the weeks to come.

    If you’d like to purchase this book, learn more about it or the author then click the image above and go directly to the website dedicated to diy MFA. 

    Have you purchased diy MFA? What did you think? Would you purchase this book if you haven’t? Do you feel a person does/doesn’t need a MFA to become a good writer? Let me know in the comments below. 

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    Short Stories – What are they?

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    I personally have never written a short story. I have read only a handful of them, mostly sticking to longer bits of fiction. However, I wanted to understand short stories and what makes them so engaging for both writer’s and readers so I opted to attend ‘Nailing the Spike: Creating a Compelling Short Story’ panel at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference Friday panel.

    According to the panel, a short story is successful because it differs from a standard novel as a sprint vs a marathon. A sprint is a quick race to the finish and that’s what a short novel is. As soon as you start the novel you are quickly at the end with information in the middle to tie the two together, whereas a novel stretches out like a marathon and can go on for days and days, or in this case pages and pages. 

    A short story is defined as fictional narrative between 2,000-10,000 words. Unlike a novel, it deals with a single episode whereas a novel can deal with multiple avenues that can pull a reader in multiple directions. Short stories differ from other versions of writing such as novels, as I’ve stated, and novellas in this manner. 

    The concept for a short story can come from anything such as your personal experiences, things you see on a daily commute or something that was told to you. It can resonate from anywhere and when put to paper can explore the who, what, when, where and why of your eventual story. 

    You want to make sure you have a setting that can be familiar to those reading as a short story does not have extended chapters to grab the reader so you have to make sure you get the reader attention immediately. How’s the weather? How’s the social atmosphere? These are things you may want to incorporate in your short story. 

    Just as important as setting is your characters. One of the biggest hitches of any story, short or otherwise, is if the characters are believable. Readers want characters that make sense, unless you are writing fantasy where you can have a little edge with going off the track. If your story is in a different genre then you should make sure that whoever the protagonist is they can relate to the reader. 

    Now that your character is relatable, who is telling the story. POV is one of the most difficult choices that any author can make and in a short story that difficulty remains. Which ever POV you choose, make sure you follow through with it until the end. 

    You also want to make sure you have a good conflict. Since a short story is essentially a beginning, middle and end in a shorter value than a novel, you want to make sure you show the conflict, whatever it may be. The conflict can be internal (psychological) or external (character v character). As essential as that is, do not forget the plot, especially the introduction because it shows where the story begins. It sets everything up. This is followed by the conflict, rising action, climax and finally, the resolution. 

    For readers who read short stories, they want you to tell them who the person is, what is happening and where is it happening. You need to give the reader a reason to care about your character and the story you are trying to tell. Give the reader a surprise or two, they will appreciate it and leave something behind so that they are willing and able to read your next short story work. 

    Have you written a short story? What is your favorite short story? Let me know in the comments below. 

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