It's been a while since I've been able to attend a writer's in residence workshop at the library. Last time I attended one was almost a year ago with Marylee MacDonald! I've been doing a lot of teaching and grading so I haven't been able to attend any.
But last Saturday, I made it a priority to attend Sharon Skinner's workshop about Point of View (POV) and perspective.
There were three of us attending the workshop (a fourth came in late). Maybe because it was a Saturday? Maybe because it was a two-hour workshop? I'm not sure. But it was nice and personal!
Sharon asked me what "I write." Like I'm an author already. ha ha! I was flattered and told her that I'm currently working on a MG Fantasy book. (I suppose I could have been cheeky and said that I write lesson plans or I write blogs.) One of the other attendees was writing a YA Fantasy. I like it when a presenter takes the time to get to know us and what we're working on!
Once we got acquainted, Sharon talked a bit about the writing process. She said that writing processes vary like shirts. They come in all sizes, colors and styles. You may find a shirt that you really love, but it doesn't fit (or work) later in life, so writing processes can even vary from project to project. She then told us that she was going to talk about her processes and things that she's learned. "If it fits, keep it. But it doesn't, put it back." I loved this analogy!
Write from the heart
She encouraged us to "Know your Why," referring to Simon Sinek's Ted Talk, "How great leaders inspire action."
Why do you write?, she asked us. What's your motivation? She told us that she has a friend who doesn't write anything unless his agent tells him that it will sell. This ensures that he will be a success, he says.
But Sharon Skinner says she writes what's in her heart. She writes because she has characters inside her that have stories they want to tell, and she wants them to be heard.
When asked about exceptions to the rules, particularly in POV and perspectives, Sharon Skinner said, "Look. There's always room in the market for awesome!" As long as you do it well--- and with purpose--- the market will make room for it.
Hook 'em and book 'em!
As we dived into the topic of the workshop, Sharon told us that she's the kind of writer that wants to "hook 'em and book 'em!" A reader of hers told her that she read a chapter of her book before work. Before she knew it, she was sitting on the couch, still reading, and late for work. Parents blame her for their kids reading under the covers with a flashlight. (Wouldn't that be the dream?!)
One of the best ways, Sharon Skinner says, to hook 'em and book 'em is by having a consistent and well written POV. We need to consider:
Point of View (POV) versus Perspective
Sharon Skinner says these two terms are often interchanged or seen as the same thing, but she likes to define point of view as third person, second person, or first person, and perspective as the eyes we see the story. You could, for example, have third-person limited from different perspectives, even though they're the same POV.
This was nothing, necessarily, new for me, but I liked how she shared real examples from a pile of books she brought with her. Then, she put us to work.
The 'work' in workshop
After going through the various types of POV and perspectives, looking at examples (some classics, some just off the shelf of the library), Sharon Skinner put us to work. She had us write a scene with conflict between two characters. We wrote it in first person from one of the characters. We wrote for five minutes.
Then we wrote the same scene in first person from the other character. Great, I thought. That was really cool. That was good work. I learned some stuff about my two characters that I didn't know, just by being in their head for the same scene.
We weren't done.
Sharon Skinner had us write the same scene in the third-person omniscient and limited (for both characters), from the perspective of an onlooker (or someone outside the conflict) and in second-person (that was the weirdest!). We wrote that same scene over and over and over...
I defiantly got a good writer's workout! I can't wait for more writing workshops and learning from Sharon Skinner!
"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down... and bleed."
"Mongkok Street, Hong Kong"