Ruby Allure's Books

Ruby Allure's Books
Ruby Allure's Books

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Chapter 3 - A Short Course in Creative Writing


A Short Course In Creative Writing


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Narrative Voice and Style

The storyteller, who is the narrator, has numerous choices regarding how to narrate their story. It is better that this decision is made early on to stop confusion or constant flitting about throughout the story. 

First Person

The first person narrative is one of the most common approaches to narration whereby the author narrates by becoming a character within the story. The plot is revealed by referring to this viewpoint character as ‘I’. Usually, the first person narrative is used as a way to provide internal insight and convey the deep internal unspoken thoughts of the narrator. The narrator's story often revolves around themselves as the protagonist. This method allows this protagonist/narrator character's inner thoughts/perspective to be conveyed openly to the audience. It also enables the character to be further developed through his/her style of story telling.

Example: It wasn’t as if I could do anything. I sat there helplessly watching Russet, my dog, devour my date’s beautiful shoe. I glanced at her sleeping beside me and wondered what else I could give Russet to chew on.

Second Person View

The rarest mode in literature is the second person narrative technique whereby the narrator refers to the reader as ‘you’. Using this style of narrative the author makes the reader feel as though he or she is a character within the story. Second person narrative mode is often paired with the first person narrative mode in which the narrator makes emotional comparisons between the thoughts, actions, and feelings of ‘you’ versus ‘I’.

The second-person point of view provides an intense sense of intimacy between the narrator and the reader. That way the reader feels involved but powerless as they are escorted through the plot.

Example: You are not the kind of person who should be here. So why are you here when you were not invited? You are at this party, so maybe you are here for a reason. You must know why you have chosen this situation. Maybe it is your idea of an accident or a joke. So why do you invade this space? All eyes are on you because something isn’t reading right.

Third Person View

Third person narration is the most flexible and the most common approach within literature. I often liken it to an observer standing on a cloud who is able to view all things. In the third person narrative each character is referred to as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, or ‘they’. The third person narrative enables the narrator distance without attachment and makes it obvious that the narrator is an unspecified entity, voice of God or an uninvolved person. That entity narrates the story from an objective or subjective perspective.

Chantelle strolled into the lounge with a look of delight on her face. Admittedly there were hints of what she had been up to decorating her face. She even had pink icing on her cheek and eyebrow.

“I finally managed to achieve my goal!” She exclaimed with joy.

Chantelle had devoured thirteen pink cupcakes in a row without feeling queasy. She was ready for the village cupcake eating championship!

Subjective narrative describes one or more character's feelings and thoughts often in Italics.

Objective narration does not describe the feelings or thoughts of any of the characters. Instead, the focus is on the actions. Those actions are ‘shown’ for the reader to interpret.

An omniscient narrator has knowledge of all times, people, places, and events, including all characters' thoughts.

A limited narrator, in contrast, may know absolutely everything about a single character and every piece of knowledge in that character's mind, but the narrator's knowledge is ‘limited’ to that character. That is, the narrator cannot describe things unknown to the focal character.

Alternating Person View

The alternating point of view seems to be what often happens when students desire to reveal as much as they can about characters. They often start with first person and then add in a point of view from a new character. This is where the author has to make a definite decision about the approach because the worst thing that can happen is that the author writes the whole book and realises that multiple character viewpoints have become confusing. This is why the general rule for novels is to adopt a single point of view approach throughout a narrative. There are exceptions to this rule and some stories, especially in literature, alternate between the first and third person. This technique enables the author to move back and forth between the God view (with a third-person narrator) to a more personal first person narrator. However, bear in mind your reader and the potential for dis-engagement according to complexity and attention span.


The Stream of Consciousness Narration

This technique is often from a first person point of view. The intention is to provide a narrator's perspective by attempting to replicate the thought process rather than speech or actions of the narrative character. This is where interior monologues, inner desires or motivations and pieces of incomplete thoughts are expressed to the reader. The other characters within the story often remain unaware of these thoughts.

Epistolary Narrative

The epistolary narrative uses a series of letters and other documents to convey the plot of the story. Although epistolary works can be considered multiple-person narratives, they also can be classified separately, as they arguably have no narrator at all, just an author who has gathered the documents together in one place.

A bit of a fun writing break. Have a rest and look at the below prompts:

Write a piece on the following:

·         The funniest situation I can remember/imagine

·         The most awkward moment

·         An act of idiocy

Now look at what you have written. Did you automatically fall into first person or third person? You may have fallen into second person. Which point of view is most natural to you? Once you have written one piece try another one of the prompts using another point of view. Was that easy or more difficult? The reason that you are doing this is to find out your easy way before writing an epic and finding out that maybe you should have written it from a different point of view.

Before writing consider the following:

Who/what is telling the story?

·         Me?

·         Third person?

·         Voice of God?

·         Second person?

·         A specific character?

·         A journalistic - real approach?

With every piece you write it is worth answering the following questions to enable clarity:

·         What style?

·         What era?

·         What is the purpose of what I wish to write?

·         What do I wish to learn about?

·         What part of me do I wish to explore?

·         What makes me special?

·         What can I give?

·         What do I/character care about?

·         Who is my audience?

·         What do I want them to experience/feel?

·         What do I/or my character want to overcome?

·         What are my/my character’s motivations?

·         What do you want readers to take away from the story?

·         What am I specialist in?


The Three States of You and Your Writing


Now this is something worth considering prior to writing your first piece. Which part of you is writing the story? Consider this: we have you at your best, you at your worst and you at your neutral state where you simply get on with it. Obviously there are variations of those states in-between. I had never really considered the difference in my style of writing according to my mood or my state of being. Once I discovered this I purposely began to step into the state of me at my best where I considered how I would inspire and uplift through writing. When I was in my worst state, I tried writing from this point of view, writing was like mud and the writing landscape became murky. It was fascinating because even writing like that became a chore. The neutral state of writing was simply a case of not gauging a mood and writing simply to write. There is nothing wrong with this state of writing; however, the writing that I produced in my ‘best state’ was quite beautiful in comparison to the other versions. Again this relates to writing to heal and catharsis. Try writing in your three states:


When I write at my best I am… and I feel….

When I write in my neutral state I am and I feel…

When I write in my worst state… I am and I feel.


Have a read of the three pieces of writing and notice the wording you use.  Is there a difference? So with this in mind, pick one of the below prompts and see what you do with them according to the state you choose:


What caught my attention about him/her was…. (write from each state).

The situation I found myself in resulted in….

When I was handed the key I instantly thought…


BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER – Notice the voices in your head. Listen to what they are saying. Is one of them being negative and saying “Why are you doing this? It is just a waste of time? I will never be good enough?”

If so you are really not alone. One of the biggest struggles I witness with my students is that the inner critic comes out when they are being creative. It gains power when they are about to read out their work too. There are many ways to deal with the inner critic, however, I have learned to thank it when it starts chatting. It is there for a reason – it tries to stop you feeling ridiculed or stupid. So, it kindly sets you up to fail before you have even started. Now not only do you have an inner critic, there is also an inner coach. The coach will be excited about all the possibilities to write. When you start feeling not good enough and the critic is rife, switch to the inner coach. Listen to all the positive aspects you are experiencing through writing.

Another huge thing that I have noticed is that when the students become overwhelmed by the inner critic, they delete huge sections of good writing. So with this in mind, always write in version 1. This is your first draft and keep writing it until it is complete. It will not be perfect, no one can ever write a perfect draft – fact! So write your story or  book until complete. Save it as version 1 and every time you edit, save it as the next version, 2,3,4 however many. That means that your first draft is never lost and good writing will never disappear.

A Short Course in Creative Writing
by Ms Ruby Allure

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