Helpful articles for writers: POINT OF VIEW By: Sue Rich In the beginning of my writing career, Point of View (POV) was one of the hardest aspects for me to learn. Even now, after all these years, I still falter occasionally. Every author does. That’s one of the reason we need critique groups or partners to check over our work before it’s submitted to an editor. It’s easier to understand POV if you know what it is POV is what is going on inside a single character’s head--actually your head--during a particular scene or portion of a scene. You are in one character’s POV at a time. You become that character. Therefore, you can only draw from the thoughts you would think about your own situation, fear, anger, happiness, appearance, love interest, home, work, and so forth. Your character can only smell, hear, touch, taste, see, or feel what you would. Your thoughts and actions are going to be exactly what you would think, do, and say while in the characters current situation. We are not mind readers While in one character’s POV, you can’t tell what another character is thinking. You can see the expressions and body language that gives hints. You can ‘guess’ what the other is thinking--right or wrong. But you can’t know what they’re thinking. For example: He was embarrassed. Unless you’re inside this guy’s head, you aren’t going to know that for sure. But your character can see signs and draw their own conclusion. She saw his neck turn red as his glance darted away. She winced. Damn. She hadn't meant to embarrass him. What we’ve done here is visibly establish the fact that he was embarrassed, and we drew a much better picture for the reader (she saw his neck turn red as his gaze darted away). We’ve also given some insight into our POV character (she hadn’t meant to embarrass him). Descriptions in POV We are all anxious to describe our characters so the reader will know what they look like. But there is a right way and a wrong way to accomplish this. Here is an example: She lifted her small hand and brushed a lock of unruly golden blonde hair behind her ear. Think about that for a minute. How many times have you said that to yourself? “I lifted my small hand a brushed a lock of my unruly golden blonde hair behind my ear.” My guess is you haven’t. That sentence would have been fine if another character (one who was watching the girl) thought it. But not when you’re inside the blonde’s head. The truth is, if I had been in this character’s head, I would have worded it something like this: A strand of hair blew across her mouth, and she shoved it back behind her ear. She was going to have to do something with this mess. Maybe she should cut it. Whoever said ‘blondes have more fun’ hadn’t seen her tangled mop. We’ve accomplished several things with that paragraph. We know her hair is long (it blew across her mouth). We know it’s blonde (whoever said blondes have more fun). We know it’s unruly (hadn’t seen her tangled mop). And we now know she’s not happy with it (maybe she should cut it). As a woman, I can identify with that. None of us are totally satisfied with our appearance. We can always find faults—especially with unmanageable hair. Anyway, we’ve covered everything except the smallness of her hand, and that can be saved for another time. Maybe when a ring slips off her finger, and she complains to herself about having midget hands. Or, better yet, when her love interest is looking at her and thinking about how tiny she is. POV in an actions scene Action scenes are usually written in quick, short sentences to speed up the pacing. But when doing so, don’t make the mistake of dropping out of POV for expedience’s sake. For instance: She saw him coming toward her. He was going to kill her! She couldn’t possibly know his intentions unless he had a gun pointed at her, or he was standing over her with a raised knife. But she can see the signs and draw her conclusion. He came toward her, his stride quick, deliberate. He didn’t take his eyes off her. A vein bulged in his temple. His hand slipped into his coat pocket. He looked evil. Deadly. Run, Jenny, run! Again, we’ve drawn a better picture for the reader, and we’ve kept within the bounds of POV. We’ve also given the reader a much more urgent sense of danger. A writer is often called an ‘artist’, and that’s what are. We don’t use a standard canvas, but we literally draw pictures with words. And if we stay in one person’s point of view at a time, the image is much more vivid. Courtesy of www.fiction-writing-tips.com
Picture your plot, as well as your synopsis, in graph form. There should be peaks and valleys, where tension and plot rise then fall, with each peak being bigger than the last. The last peak should always be "the black moment"--when all the protagonist has been striving for in the book is in jeopardy. One of the more simple tricks I've learned to writing a good synopsis is to keep a notebook next to the computer while writing the rough draft. This serves a dual purpose. First, I can jot down any story threads I want to carry through to other parts of the manuscript (you'd be surprised how fast you can forget them when the momentum of the first draft hits), but more importantly the notebook refreshes my memory and gives me a reference to use as a guide when it comes time to write the book's synopsis. Look at the notebook BEFORE you write the synopsis. Locate and note the high points in your story. These are the points you'll want most to cover in the synopsis. Between these points you'll need details on how the protagonist(s) GET to those peaks in the manuscript. The synopsis should be written in omniscient point of view. Editors prefer the prose go into the manuscript, NOT the synopsis. Use the synopsis as a tool to tell the editor exactly what the book is about and how it progresses logically from Point A (Chapter 1) to Point B (The End). Never, never, NEVER leave questions unanswered. Don't tease the editor and leave him/her guessing as to Who Dunnit, or how the internal/external conflict, plot, subplot(s), etc. are resolved. You can keep your readers in suspense, but keeping an editor in suspense is a sure way for him/her to make good use of your SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to send your manuscript whizzing back to you, rejected. Writing a good synopsis is like anything else. You need to practice, practice, practice. Whenever possible get an objective opinion. Better revision suggestions come from a friend than an editor. Taxes and Record Keeping for Writers If you take your writing seriously and are doing it as a business, pay particular attention to this article and the Writer’s Deductions as well. You do not have to show an income to take advantage of the deductions listed. You must have proof that you are serious about the business of writing (such as copies of letters sent to/from agents or editors). If you have losses, the more you look like a business, the less likely the IRS will attack you. How to look like a business
Keep records of your expenses, income, and efforts at making sales or attracting interest in your work.
Work with the IRS by taking advantage of the forms and deductions usable by you as a business.
Keep track of the hours you spend writing.
Keep track of any career-advancement actions, such as conferences, classes, and workshops attended.
Keep track of submissions and rejections to show pursuit of publication.
Keep track of volunteer writing, such as church or organization newsletters, to support that you are qualified to be in business as a writer.
Keep a phone log of business-related calls.
Give your business a name.
Full-time freelancing professionals with writing as their sole source of income.
Part-time freelancing writers who also hold a full- or part-time “day job.”
Full- or part-time freelancing writers who also have a working spouse with a full-time “day job.”
Basic Tax Forms Required
Schedule C:Unless you have made a large number of sales and fairly high income, you simply need to fill out and add Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business) to your normal tax return.
Schedule C, in this case, means you are a Sole Proprietor. This means you are the owner of a business as an individual and are solely responsible for all aspects of that business. You can have your real name, your a.k.a., or some other business name for the proprietorship.
Report the writing income, expenses, depreciation, and losses on this form.
A “business code” is required on Schedule C. Use 711510 for “independent artists, writers and performers.”
Schedule SE: If you report net income rather than a loss, you need to file Schedule SE for Self-Employment Tax. This form is for individuals who work for themselves to determine the social security and Medicare tax required.
Incorporating Your Writing Business
If you become so famous and productive (everyone’s goal, of course), you might consider having you or your business incorporated. Your accountant can give you the full details, advantages and disadvantages of either being a C-Corp or an S-Corp.
A corporation will also need to file a tax return each year.
Another reason for incorporating is when you have employees: researchers, secretaries, etc.
Keeping Tax Records
Keep tax records four years from the date of filing a tax return.
Keep all tax return copies after disposing of the financial records.
The IRS expected you to pay estimated taxes if your anticipated tax liability for the coming year is $1000 or more.
Deductions You Cannot Take
Money owed to you and not collected from a publisher that goes out of business.
Advertising: all promotional materials, ads, payment for web sites
Car expenses: mileage to meetings, conferences; must keep a log of dates, destination, reason, mileage
Commissions: fees paid to agents
Computers & software: See IRS Code Sec. 179 (Ask your accountant about this terrific deduction involving being able to write off capital purchases rather than depreciating them.)
Depreciation: Property such as a desk, bookcase, computer or printer acquired for business and expected to last more than one year cannot have the entire cost as a business expense deducted in the year you acquire it. The cost must be spread out over more than one tax year and you deduct part of it each year on Schedule C. OR you can choose to deduct the entire cost of certain depreciable property in the year you placed the property into service. This is a “section 179 deduction.” See IRS Publication 946 for more information.
Dues: writers groups, other professional associations necessary to the genre in which you write
Employee benefit programs: These come into play if you have employees working for you, such as someone who does research for you—particularly your spouse. This would include your own health insurance or part of a health insurance package from somewhere else. Ask you accountant about this.
Entertainment: ordinary and necessary expenses to entertain a client, customer, or employee if the expenses are directly related to the writing. You cannot deduct the cost of your meal as entertainment expense if you are claiming the meal as a travel expense. Generally, you can deduct only 50% of your entertainment expenses and you need records to prove the business purpose.
Fees: fees paid for self-publishing
Home office: must fill out Form 8829. This deduction is ONLY available if you have a profit.
Insurance: office liability, etc.
Office equipment: desks, chair, copier, fax machine, etc.
Office space rental
Office supplies: paper, printer cartridges, pens and pencils, files, etc.
Pension & profit sharing plans: Simple or KEOGH plans, talk to a financial advisor
Postage and delivery
Professional services: legal and accounting fees
Project costs: an author does not have to “capitalize” or accumulate the project costs to be deducted in a future year, when the income is actually received. You are allowed to deduct your project costs in the year they are incurred.
Rent or leases: office space outside the home, equipment rental
Repairs: on office equipment
Subscriptions: magazines and newspapers used for potential research, sample magazines for market research, magazines relevant to your field of writing
Travel: airline and train fares, hotels, tolls, rental cars—specifically apply when in conjunction with conferences, meetings, or research trips (which can be nearly every trip taken if you can weave it into a book/article/or story sometime)