Mastering Fiction & Point of View

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(publication date 2018)

Point of View is one of the more sophisticated aspects of writing fiction, yet it seems to worry writers more than any other aspect of writing short or long fiction. Critics and teachers are partly responsible for writers’ anxiety since polysyllabic and unintelligible terms are constantly being invented for something that is actually very simple to comprehend. There are, in reality, very few literary Points of View. Critics, scholars, teachers, and readers sometimes confuse experimental writing or multiple Points of View with a “new” way of writing when it is only a combination of the elementary Points of View. More important, however, is the fact that all authors need to master the fundamentals of fiction writing techniques before attempting to conquer Point of View.

Part One of Mastering Fiction & Point of View explores the fundamental elements of fiction writing, from keeping readers turning the pages with Urgency, to creating realistic characters, and writing effective dialogue. Guidelines are provided for incorporating setting in the most efficient way, for writing erotic scenes that will captivate readers, and for constructing violent scenes that are integral to the work. Each of the fundamental fiction elements is defined, with examples from all fiction genres & periods, then related back to Point of View. This enables writers at all skill levels, whether beginning or advanced, to improve their craft by integrating all the elements of good fiction.

The fundamentals of fiction are set forth in individual chapters so that they, also, may be read in any order, but the chapters are laid out in the order that writers need to master them in order to write complex, exciting fiction. Part Two begins with Urgency and Character Development, moves to Dialogue and Setting, and ultimately ends with Symbolism, Revision, and Eliminating Writer’s Block. The fiction fundamentals become more complex as the book progresses, and as the writer’s skill increases. Each chapter is followed by exercises which can be done as individual pieces or incorporated into the writer’s existing work.

Part Two of Mastering Fiction & Point of View simplifies Point of View to its very basics, providing clear definitions, explanations, and examples of each. Advantages and disadvantages of writing in each Point of View are explored, followed by excerpts from literary as well as from commercial fiction. Indie and e-book authors are now included since those technologies did not exist when the 1st edition of Mastering Point of View was published by Story Press in 2001.

Each chapter on Point of View can be read individually, in any order, independently of the rest, according to the writer’s needs. The chapters are arranged, however, in order of its difficulty of mastery, from the easiest Point of View (Unlimited) to the most challenging (Outer Limited). In addition to explanations and examples, each chapter also includes Tips and exercises for the writer to improve his skills in that Point of View.
Appendices exploring the development of Point of View in literary, modern, and commercial fiction round out one of the most comprehensive writing books ever published. Including a comprehensive glossary, select bibliography, and index, Mastering Fiction & Point of View can be used as a classroom textbook as well as an individual study guide for writers at all skill levels and for all genres of fiction.

Excerpts from
Mastering Fiction & Point of View

Urgency in Fiction,
Part One

Urgency in Fiction,
Part Two

No Demons, No Saints:
Creating Realistic Characters

Writing Effective Dialogue

Who’s Afraid of Point of View?

Myths about Point of View


Mastering Fiction and Point of View:
Create Conflict, Develop Characters,
Revise Your Work, & Improve Your Craft;
Revised, Updated, & Expanded,15th Anniversary Edition
© 2001, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman.
(Shorter excerpts formerly included in Mastering Point of View:
Using POV to Create Conflict, Depth, & Suspense. Story Press: 2001.

(1st edition published by Story Press 2001)
(originally published under pseudonym “Sherri”)

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