Even if you are using this month to revise a finished draft, you can’t go wrong by starting with point of view.  As you sit down to write over the next few days, ask yourself:

Day One:  Who is telling this story?  

Day Two:  Why are they telling it?  

Day Three:  When are they telling it?   

The best example I can give about point of view (and why it is worth three days of questions) is Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird.   The narrator is a grown-up Scout talking over the head of young Scout right to the reader.  People like to say that if it were published today, Mockingbird would be published as a young adult.  I do not agree.  The narrator in Harper Lee’s novel is an adult woman capturing what it was like to be young through the eyes of both grown up Scout and the reader.  The reader and older Scout make a contract to understand why young Scout, whom the book is (in theory) about, can’t yet grasp.  

That’s why if you read the book in the seventh grade (as I did for the first time), you sort of miss the point.

Day Four:  What is the story behind the main character’s name?   When your full name is Rhodita Garret Michaela (and one of your sister’s is Lydia Alexandra Helene), you will believe that names have stories. But even Jane has a story behind it.  Is it from Jane Eyre, Jane Banks of Mary Poppins, Lady Jane Grey, or simply your aunt’s middle name?  Whatever it is, you know the story of your name. Your characters should as well.  

Day Five:  How much does a location dictate the story that your POV narrator tells?  I am thinking of Peter Behren’s Law of Dreams, a 3rd person tale of a young boy in the wake of the potato famine in Ireland. Clearly location has everything to do with the story even more than telling it from Fergus O’Brien’s viewpoint.  

Day Six:   A word on word count. Graham Greene wrote 350 words a day, no more and no less.  Edith Wahrton stayed in bed for two hours after breakfast and wrote during that time without ever counting her words. The romance novelist Sierra Simone swears by 2000 words a day.  There are plenty of charts and graphs telling you what you have to do during NaNoWriMo, but I say, be your own guide.  I have not weighed myself since high school and I wear the same dress size that I did then. I don’t count my words and I still manage to write books.   Sometimes numbers don’t mean anything.  

Day Seven:  A poem for your journey by the late, great Wislawa Szymborska.  



{Top photo by Jan Kahanek, Bottom one in public domain}