Famous Authors Series – Roald Dahl

‘Famous Authors Series – Roald Dahl’ is our second post profiling famous authors.

Best known for his hugely popular children’s books, Roald Dahl was a British author who was born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1916 to immigrant Norwegian parents. He died in Oxford, England in 1990.

The themes of his children’s books are usually unsentimental and macabre, with a dark sense of humour. The stories feature villainous adult characters pitted against child heroes who ultimately prevail. Think Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryMatildaThe WitchesFantastic Mr FoxThe BFGThe Twits ... One of his well-known adult works is Tales of the Unexpected.

Roald Dahl was one of the authors whose stories our daughter grew up on. We read the book and watched the movie Matilda so many times she had the script memorised. I’m pretty sure that as an adult, she still remembers many of the lines.

Dahl also wrote short stories, poetry and screenplays. Furthermore, he was an ace fighter pilot during World War II, eventually moving into intelligence. He was a tall – 6ft 6in (1.98m) – and dashing figure, much sought-after by the ladies. His affairs with glamorous older ladies in the US gleaned him much useful information for his own and his host country.

Mouse in the gobstoppers

When the young author was at primary school, the headmaster caned Dahl along with four friends. Their crime? Putting a dead mouse in a jar of gobstoppers in the local sweetshop. The owner was a ‘mean and loathsome’ old woman. This mischievous act mirrors some of the mean tricks that Mr and Mrs Twit play on each other in The Twits.

Family life

Dahl had three sisters. Sadly, an older sister died from appendicitis when he was only three years old, and his father died just a few weeks later of pneumonia at the age of 57. Dahl’s mother remained in Wales instead of returning to Norway, as her husband had wanted their children to attend English schools.

Dahl married Patricia Neal, an American actress. They were together 30 years and had five children. Tragedy struck both their only son, and their seven-year-old daughter. Their son was injured as a baby when a taxi hit his pram in New York. The inventive Dahl commissioned a friend to make a valve that helped clear Theo’s brain of fluid, leading to his partial recovery. Then Olivia died of measles encephalitis. Dahl dedicated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Theo and The BFG to Olivia.

His second marriage was in 1983, lasting until his death.

Strong sense of justice

From the age of 13, Dahl attended Repton, a public school in Derbyshire, where he endured the infamous cruelty often portrayed in depictions of such institutions. Older boys and masters lorded it over the younger students. Dahl abhorred the cruelty and almost committed suicide. His sense of justice and his disgust at the excesses of authority or dominant figures comes through in his books. Bullying of the defenceless by the powerful and stupid always results in unflinching payback.

Schoolmasters don’t know everything

It appears that Dahl did not exhibit great writing talent at school, or at least, one of his English teachers didn’t think so. He said of him, ‘I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.’ One can only imagine the deep shade of beetroot that man would have blushed when many years later, he was proven so, so wrong.

Influences

Dahl grew up on Norse folktales told to him by his parents. Other influences include writers Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, William Makepeace Thackeray and Frederick Marryat.

Ian Fleming adaptations

Two famous screenplays that Dahl wrote were both adaptations of novels by Ian Fleming: the James Bond film You Only Live Twice and the children’s film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Roald Dahl’s eight main rules

The eight rules that Dahl applied to his children’s stories:

  1. Just add chocolate
  2. Adults can be scary
  3. Bad things happen
  4. Revenge is sweet
  5. Keep a wicked sense of humour
  6. Pick perfect pictures
  7. Films are fun…but books are better!
  8. Food is fun!

Other interesting stuff about Roald Dahl

He invented more than 500 new words and character names. Oxford University Press created a Roald Dahl Dictionary with almost 8,000 real and imaginary words he loved to use.

Famous Authors Series – Roald Dahl photo of girl reading Matilda
Roald Dahl’s Matilda (qz.com)

He wrote in a special garden shed based on Dylan Thomas’.

The first children’s book he wrote was The Gremlins, which later become the inspiration for the blockbuster film Gremlins produced by Steven Spielberg in 1984.

Death and legacy

Dahl died of myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare cancer of the blood. Buckinghamshire is his burial site. Considered one of the greatest storytellers for children of the twentieth century, he has named after him a gallery in Buckinghamshire, an asteroid, a plaza in Cardiff and a literary prize. His widow has continued his charitable commitments to neurology, haematology and literacy through Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post Famous Authors Series – Roald Dahl.

Acknowledgements

BBC Newsround, ‘Roald Dahl Day: Seven fantastic facts about the author’, 13 September 2020, https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/36824907 Accessed 13 November 2020

Independent, ‘Once Upon a Time There Was a Man Who Liked to Make Up Stories…’ 12 December 2010, https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/once-upon-a-time-there-was-a-man-who-liked-to-make-up-stories-2158052.html Accessed 13 November 2020

Roald Dahl, ‘About Roald Dahl’, https://www.roalddahl.com/roald-dahl/about Accessed 13 November 2020 (Please note: reference only; no material has been used from this site)

Wikipedia, Roald Dahl, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Dahl Accessed 13 November 2020

Acknowledgements for Photos: Hindustan Times and qz.com

‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’

Roald Dahl

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Famous Authors Series – Katherine Mansfield

photo of katherine mansfield for Famous Authors Series - Katherine Mansfield

This is the beginning of a series of posts about the lives of famous authors. Just how ‘regular’ these turn out to be will depend on other content I have to post, but let’s kick off today with the Famous Authors Series – Katherine Mansfield.

Katherine Mansfield was a New Zealand author who lived only to the age of thirty-four, yet she produced an oeuvre of some twenty collections of short stories and poems, and sixty-five short stories.

Mansfield was small, slim and attractive. She had short, dark hair and mostly wore her fringe cut straight across. Her eyes were brown.

‘The only writing I have ever been jealous of’

Virginia Woolf, contemporary, friend and fellow member of the Bloomsbury Group

Early life

Katherine was born Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp in 1888, in Wellington. She always wrote under the pseudonym Katherine Mansfield.

In 1903, Mansfield’s father sent his daughter to finish her education in London at Queen’s College, a liberal girls’ school. Mansfield studied music, English, French and German. She edited the school magazine, contributed short stories and read widely.

She returned to New Zealand in 1906 and began publishing short stories, but she was restless, found the lifestyle too provincial and longed for the London world of art and literature. In 1908, she departed for London, never to return to the antipodes. In her later years, she expressed both disdain and admiration for New Zealand.

Personal life of Katherine Mansfield

Mansfield had two romantic relationships with women, the first with Maata Mahupuku (also known as Martha Grace), a wealthy young Māori woman whom she first met at school in Wellington and then again in London in 1906. Her second same-sex relationship was with Edith Bendall, between 1906 and 1908. She also had several lovers, both male and female.

Mansfield’s life was a whirlwind. In Europe, she met a musician in Paris and joined a touring opera company to be with him. Becoming pregnant, she married a singing teacher, George Bowden, in 1908, but left him after the ceremony. Her mother sailed from New Zealand in 1909 to see what her wayward daughter was up to. She whisked her off to a Bavarian spa and away from her friend Ida Baker, with whom she thought her daughter had a lesbian relationship. Mrs Beauchamp disinherited her daughter. Happily for Katherine, her father continued to pay her an allowance. Being in Bavaria had a significant effect on her in a literary sense, especially the works of Anton Chekhov.

Productive writer

Mansfield began her first collection of short stories in Germany, In a German Pension.

After experiencing a miscarriage in Bavaria, taking a Polish lover and running out of funds, she returned to London in January 1910 with financial help from her friend Ida. There, she published more than a dozen articles in Alfred Orage’s socialist magazine The New Age, becoming a friend and lover of Beatrice Hastings, who lived with Orage.

John Middleton Murry

Around this time, Mansfield met the man who would eventually (in 1918) become her second husband, the writer and critic John Middleton Murry. They soon became lovers and collaborators. Theirs was a stormy relationship, and they often lived apart.

Mansfield and Murry became friends with D.H. Lawrence in 1913. Along with his future wife, Frieda, the two couples became close friends.

Alienation

​Mansfield wrote of her feelings of alienation in New Zealand, and of her disillusionment with the repression of the Māori people. Māori characters are often portrayed sympathetically in her later stories, such as How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped. However, her work took a nostalgic turn towards New Zealand childhood memories after the death of her younger brother, Leslie, at the end of 1915, killed during grenade training in Belgium at the age of twenty-one.

She wrote a poem about a dream she had soon after her brother’s death:

By the remembered stream my brother stands
Waiting for me with berries in his hands...
‘These are my body. Sister, take and eat.’ (acknowledgement per Wikipedia)

Illness and final years

When she was twenty-nine, Mansfield was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis.

Accompanied by Ida, she travelled to Switzerland in May 1921 to investigate tuberculosis treatment. Murry joined her a month later and they stayed until January 1922. Mansfield was highly productive during this time, fearing she did not have much time left. In Switzerland, she wrote At the Bay, The Doll’s House, The Garden Party and A Cup of Tea.

She spent her final years seeking unorthodox cures for her tuberculosis. Between June and August 1922, she and Murry returned to Switzerland, where she finished her last short story, The Canary. She wrote her will. After a short trip to London, she moved with Ida to Fontainebleau, France in October 1922.

In January of the following year, she suffered a fatal pulmonary haemorrhage, after running up a flight of stairs, dying within the hour. She was buried near Fontainebleau.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post ‘Famous Authors Series – Katherine Mansfield’.

Complete works

Search on Google for the complete works of Katherine Mansfield. There are various collections in ebook form at ridiculously low prices! – e.g. here. There are also hard copy editions available for Mansfield connoisseurs, e.g. here.

Acknowledgements

Sonin, Adam, Heritage: Katherine Mansfield – The turbulent love life of a ‘very serious writer’. In ‘Ham & High’, 27 April 2013 https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/heritage/heritage-katherine-mansfield-the-turbulent-love-live-of-a-very-serious-writer-1-2167030 Accessed 31 October 2020

Wikipedia, Katherine Mansfield, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Mansfield#Works Accessed 31 October 2020

Find out more

Contact us to ask about writer/book coaching programs, editing and all our other editorial services. We can help you from go to whoa, and anywhere in between.

Clichés, Dead Metaphors and some Alternatives

In a recent blog, we looked at clichés and overused (or dead) metaphors and their origins (see https://editors4you.com.au/cliches-and-overused-metaphors/). In this blog we look at the same topic, but with a twist – clichés, dead metaphors and some alternatives.

As mentioned in the above blog, clichés and overused metaphors can negatively affect the impact of your writing. Using alternatives should help to improve your work.

Orwell’s Rules

When thinking of clichés, dead metaphors and some alternatives, George Orwell’s rules – from his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language – come to mind. These rules can be applied to a variety of genres and writing styles. The main rule that ties into this blog is the first one.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech you are used to seeing in print
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Love the last one!

Considering the first and fifth rules, clichés and dead metaphors can easily be replaced by everyday language.

Starting with clichés, you’ll find below some alternatives to the examples from the previous blog that you could consider using.

Bite the bullet

Instead, you could use: endure, face, bear with. Here are some example sentences.

Example with cliché: Jamie decided to bite the bullet and go to the dentist.

Alternatives to that sentence could be:

Jamie decided to endure her fear and go to the dentist.

Jamie chose to face her fears and go to the dentist.

Jamie made up her mind to bear with her fears and go to the dentist.

Turn a blind eye

Alternatives to this cliché you could use include: pretend/choose not to notice, purposely ignore, neglect, overlook, refuse to notice.

Example with cliché: Belinda turns a blind eye to their wrongdoings.

Alternatives to that sentence include:

Belinda pretends not to notice their wrongdoings.

Belinda purposely ignores their wrongdoings.

Belinda neglects to notice their wrongdoings.

Belinda deliberately overlooks their wrongdoings.

Paint the town red

Alternatives to this cliché include: celebrate, have a good time, party, go out.

Example with cliché: Last night, Alice and her friends painted the town red.

Alternatives:

When Alice and her friends went out last night, they celebrated.

Alice and her friends had a good time out last night.

Last night, Alice and her friends partied.

Alice and her friends went out last night.

photo of red buildings for post cliches, dead metaphors and some alternatives
Instead of painting the town red, go out and party, have a jolly good time, celebrate!

By and large

Alternatives to by and large you could consider using are: everything considered, as a whole, generally.

Example with cliché: The poor were, by and large, hard-working people.

Alternatives:

Everything considered, the poor were hard-working people.

The poor were, as a whole, hard-working people.

The poor were generally hard-working people.

Give the cold shoulder

Alternative wording you could use instead of give the cold shoulder include: ignore, avoid, disregard, dismiss.

Example with cliché: All week, Gavin gave his co-workers the cold shoulder.

Alternatives:

All week, Gavin ignored his co-workers.

Gavin avoided his co-workers all week.

All week, Gavin disregarded his co-workers.

Gavin dismissed his co-workers all week.

Ball’s in your court

Alternative phrases you could use instead of ball’s in your court include: it’s up to you, it’s your choice.

Example with cliché: The ball’s in your court now.

Alternatives:

It’s up to you now.

It’s your choice now.

Can of worms

Instead of using can of worms, alternatives to consider include: problematic, unpleasant, difficult.

Example with cliché: The situation opened a can of worms.

Alternatively, you could use:

The situation was problematic to talk about.

It was an unpleasant situation.

The situation was difficult to talk about.

Now, let’s take a look at alternatives to overused (dead) metaphors.

Life is a journey

Alternatives to consider: many (different) experiences, ups and downs.

Example with overused metaphor: Life is a journey.

Alternatives:

Life consists of many different experiences.

Life has its ups and downs.

Love is a battlefield

Alternatives to consider include: ups and downs, can be difficult.

Example with overused metaphor: They had always been told love was a battlefield.

Alternatively, you could use:

They had always been told love had its ups and downs.

They had always been told love could be difficult.

Laughter is the best medicine

Alternative phrases to laugher is the best medicine to consider include: laughter improves your mood, laughter helps with healing.

Example with overused metaphor: Her parents used to tell her laugher was the best medicine.

Alternatively:

Her parents used to tell her laughter would improve her mood.

Her parents used to tell her laugher would help her heal.

Time is money

Instead of time is money, alternatives you could use include: don’t waste time, use time wisely.

Example with overused metaphor: Their boss tells them repeatedly time is money.

Alternatives:

Their boss tells them repeatedly not to waste time.

Their boss repeatedly tells them to use their time wisely

Achilles heel

Alternatives to Achilles heel you could consider using include: weakness, weak spot, vulnerability, vulnerable spot.

Example with overused metaphor: His fear of heights was his Achilles heel.

Alternative sentences:

His weakness was a fear of heights.

His fear of heights was a weak spot.

One of his vulnerabilities was a fear of heights.

His fear of heights was a vulnerable spot.

Laughing-stock

Instead of laughing-stock, alternatives to consider using include: joke, object of mockery, target.

Example with overused metaphor: Fred had always been the laughing-stock of the school.

Alternatives:

Fred had always been the joke of the school.

The object of mockery at school had always been Fred.

At school, Fred had always been the target of jokes.

Naturally, the examples in this blog, Clichés, Dead Metaphors and some Alternatives, give only some of the possibilities you could use. It just takes a little thought and a little awareness when you’re writing to avoid overused phrases. Go a bit crazy. Be creative and experiment. Just remember to keep in mind George Orwell’s rule about breaking rules: ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous!’

Acknowledgements

Collins Dictionary 2020, A Can of Worms, https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/a-can-of-worms

Kwan, M 2020, Examples of Dead Metaphors, https://examples.yourdictionary.com/reference/examples/examples-of-dead-metaphors.html

Lepki, L 2019, The Internet’s Best List of Clichéshttps://prowritingaid.com/art/21/List-of-Clich%C3%A9s.aspx 

Wikipedia 2020, Politics and the English Language, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Language

IMAGES

Red building photo by Artem Saranin from Pexels

Black and white photo Pixabay


Credit for this blog goes to my intern from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Hannah Daylight. Thanks again, Hannah!


Learn more ways to improve your writing with ‘Ten Ways to Super-Charge Your Writing Skills’. It’s a fun, easy to follow eBook – I promise! Enhance your writing technique and skills!

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How Can Writer Coaching Help Me?

Whether or not you have read the previous blogs on writer coaching (see links at end), you may still be asking yourself, how can writer coaching help me personally?

I thought it would be helpful to tell you some stories (anonymously, of course) about several clients I’ve worked with, their reason for wanting coaching, and some of the work we did together.

Some writers find that one session is enough to get them unstuck. Others like to work on the issues/points raised in the initial coaching session, and are then ready for a second, third and sometimes a fourth session.

From their stories below, you’ll find it easier to know whether writer coaching would be helpful for you.

This post draws on coaching sessions to answer the question How can writer coaching help me? (Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels)

Client 1

Client 1 was around 10,000 words into her memoir when she contacted me. She needed help improving her writing technique, she said, but she had also reached a point where she was stuck and didn’t know how to continue.

As for many clients, we worked on a chapter structure and tried to write a synopsis. I say ‘tried’ because once we began, we realised it was difficult to express what the story was about, other than that it was based on a period from her youth when she’d travelled overseas. We discovered there were no outstanding experiences that could have good dramatic impact to capture a readership.

So I asked her, ‘Do you read a lot?’ and she said that she did. ‘What’s your favourite genre?’ I asked her.

She said she loved biographies of well-known people.

I asked if there was any fiction genre she enjoyed and she said, ‘I love thrillers!’

I then asked her how she felt about fictionalising her story and making it into a thriller. There was one ‘character’ she’d met during her time overseas who I’d thought could be developed into a shady character, which helped me suggest this genre. Bingo! That suggestion resonated with her completely. We ended the session with her brimming with enthusiasm and going off to reread her favourite authors such as James Patterson before embarking on her own thriller.

Client 2

When Client 2 called to say he needed help to progress his writing, he had written a few chapters of his life story – which he wanted to fictionalise.

When you’re so close to your story, it can sometimes be difficult to articulate what your actual issues are. After having a chat about this, we ascertained that the main problem keeping him ‘stuck’ was the lack of a structure for his book, as he was somewhat randomly populating chapters with content without first having a framework for it.

Pitch and Synopsis

To address this, we first wrote a pitch and then a synopsis for his book. After that, we worked on the chapter structure. Although we couldn’t finalise the structure during the initial coaching session – because he hadn’t yet decided on all the material he wanted to include – we achieved three-quarters of it.

We also realised that although he’d initially said the story was based on his own childhood, which had been traumatic, in fact, there was going to be very little based on his own experiences. The genre he was writing was crime fiction. We discussed how best to intersperse childhood events throughout the story – whether real or fictionalised – and decided the flashback technique would work very well for this.

As he had only written about 6,000 words, it was the optimal time for ‘professional intervention’! We spent some time discussing the importance of ensuring the reader was engaged – kept right in the story – at all times. It can be easy, as the writer, to forget that the reader isn’t in your head, so isn’t privy to things you as the writer know. While elements of mystery and intrigue are necessary, naturally, in crime fiction, that is different from putting the reader in the position of not having a clue what is going on.

Having had one coaching session so far, he has happily gone away to work on his book. He feels more confident now that he is working to a structure and has a clearer idea of where his book is going.

Client 3

This client initially contacted me mid-2017. We have continued working together, with breaks in between, until the present moment. Initially, over a period of four months, she had three coaching sessions to help her piece together her mystery novel. Her main problems were that as a first-time writer, the writing was self-conscious and tentative, lacking in confidence. The beginning of the book was not strong enough to capture a reader’s attention from the get-go, and the book needed more dialogue to break up long paragraphs of narrative and help bring the story to life.

However, the biggest issue was that it was not clear what the story was really about. One of the outcomes of our initial coaching session was for her to write a synopsis, which forces a writer to be concise and absolutely clear on the characters, especially the protagonist and any other major characters, what the main storyline and events are, and how the story will end.

Working on the Protagonist

Some of the other suggestions I gave her were making readers care about her main female character, who was not particularly likeable. In the context of her story, it was necessary for readers to empathise with this character (which isn’t always the case); tips for creating fictional characters; showing rather than telling; and using fresh expressions rather than cliches (more about that here: https://editors4you.com.au/cliches-and-overused-metaphors/).

After working on the outcomes from the first session for a month or so, she requested a second coaching session. During that session, we worked on fixing head-hopping and point of view; making the writing more emotive – so readers would feel what the characters were feeling; the overall chapter structure; and strong chapter openings and endings.

After she had implemented those suggestions, in the third and fourth coaching sessions we worked on some recurring grammatical issues including using active voice rather than passive voice, and simplifying the writing rather than over-embellishing and overwriting. This took us up to the beginning of 2018. She then spent the rest of that year, and all of 2019 (her time permitting) working on her writing. In mid-2020, she had finished writing and requested a manuscript appraisal for the novel. As of now, she is finalising the manuscript for the edit.

_____

My experience over the years has been that most writers who approach me for coaching find that one initial session is sufficient to get them unstuck and able to forge ahead with their writing. However, other writers need more help and coaching as they progress through the chapters.

I hope that this post has helped you answer the question, How Can Writer Coaching Help Me?

In addition to this post How Can Writer Coaching Help Me? take a look at the following links for more on writer coaching:

Book Writing Coach: https://editors4you.com.au/book-writing-coach/
Writer Coaching to Develop your Writing: https://editors4you.com.au/writer-coaching-to-develop-your-writing/

Writing Coach and Editor

Gail has recently nurtured through writer coaching and editing:

Award-winning author, Bianca Williams, of the Sidelined trilogy. In 2017, she won the USA Best Book Award and was a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Book 1 Sidelined: The Draft.
cover of sidelined the draft for blog post how can writer coaching help me
Award-winning author, C.C. Harris, who won the 2020 American Fiction Award for her novel The Psychs of Manhattan in the Psychological Thriller category.

WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 32

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for editors4you newsletter

Welcome to the Writers Connect! Newsletter

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: Writing Competitions
  • Word of the Day. A word to keep your writing fresh
  • Humorous Quote
  • Writing Inspiration
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: Writing Events

Something a little different this time, as we have had an international focus for quite a few issues. A focus on Australian writing competitions, with one Australian literary award and one international competition. Closing dates for these are during October 2020. Please note some of them close on 2 October, which is Friday this week (Australian time), so better get cracking!

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

1: 2021 Colin Roderick Literary Award

Awarded to the best original book of the previous year (2020) dealing with any aspect of Australian life, first published by an Australian publisher.

Closes: Nominations close 11 December 2020

Prizes: Winner receives $20,000 and the H.T. Priestley Medal

Click here for eligibility criteria and to nominate:

https://www.jcu.edu.au/foundation-for-australian-literary-studies/colin-roderick-award/awards-terms-and-conditions

Comp 2: Silver Quill Poetry Competition

This poetry competition caters to writers from the age of five years upwards.

About: Entries must have ‘very good rhyme and rhythm and be an original story with an Australian theme’. Entrants may make as many entries as they wish. Entries must be the original work of the entrant and not have been entered in any competition previously

Open to: 5 years upwards. Poems with Australian theme

Word count: Not stated

Theme: Six Categories: 1. Open Serious. 2. Open Humorous. 3. Novice Only. 4. Junior 5–12 years old. 5. Junior 13–17 years old. 6. Local (best poem by a resident of Avon Valley)

Closes: 2 October 2020

Entry fee: Adults = $10 per poem, $5 per critique. Juniors = free

Prize: Monetary prizes will be awarded for the best poem in each of the 6 categories. Each winner as well as those judged ‘Highly Commended’ or ‘Commended’ will receive a certificate

Entry form here: http://www.abpa.org.au/Files/event_2020_SilverQuillEntryForm.pdf

Terms and Conditions: http://www.abpa.org.au/events.html – Scroll down to October 2020, then Silver Quill Written Competition and click on ‘Conditions of Entry’

Comp 3: The 2021 Stella Prize

This high-value nonfiction and fiction story competition is open to women and non-binary writers who are Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia.

About: Books must have first been published commercially in English anywhere in the world between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020

Open to: Women writers and non-binary writers who are Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia at the time of entry. Entries must be in English

Word Count: not applicable

Theme: Novels of all genres, collections of short stories by a single author, memoirs, biographies, histories, verse novels, and novellas of at least 20,000 words. Illustrated books, including graphic novels, are eligible, provided they are accompanied by a substantial quantity of text

Closes: 2 October 2020

Entry fee: $77 (incl. GST)

Prizes: Winner = $50,000. Shortlisted writers = $2,000 each. Longlisted writers = $1,000 each

For guidelines & submission: https://thestellaprize.com.au/prize/guidelines-submission/

Comp 4: AVCAT Essay Prize

An inaugural Essay Prize to promote recognition of the impact of the Vietnam War.

About: Australian Veterans’ Children Assistance Trust (AVCAT) has partnered with the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia to present the inaugural AVCAT Essay Prize in 2020, promoting recognition of the impact of the Vietnam War

Open to: All entrants 18+ as at 18 August 2020

Word count: 2,500 maximum

Theme: Impact of the Vietnam War on Family

Closes: 16 October 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prizes: First = $500. Second = £200. Third = $100

Guidelines & entry: https://avcat.org.au/essay/

Comp 5: The Writer 100-Word Contest

Founded in 1887, The Writer is one of the US’s oldest magazines about the craft of writing.

About: Simultaneously submitted work accepted, but if accepted for publication elsewhere, you must withdraw your entry

Open to: Anyone internationally 18+

Word count: 100 maximum

Theme: Any genre, fiction or nonfiction

Closes: 6 October 2020

Entry fee: $10

Prizes: 1st = $1,000 + publication

Details here: https://writermag.submittable.com/submit – scroll down to ‘100-word Contest’

Word of the Day

ennui

Originating from the same Latin word that gave us annoy and later borrowed from the French in the 18th century, ennui is a loan word meaning boredom that causes feelings of discontent and listlessness.

Humorous quote

Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent―Neil Gaiman (1960–), English author of fiction and comic books.

Get Inspired

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt― Sylvia Plath (1932–1963), American novelist and poet.

Writing Tip

Write a short passage about your earliest memory. Try to incorporate the five senses in your writing – smell, touch, taste, sight and sound.

Keep well, keep safe, keep writing 🙂

Clichés and Overused Metaphors

We read and hear clichés and overused metaphors all the time, in books, movies and in our own daily speech. We use them because they help paint a more vivid picture for readers, movie-goers and listeners.

However, clichés and overused metaphors in writing can dull the impact of a passage.

This week’s blog focuses on clichés and overused metaphors and their origins. Some of these also relate to idioms, which we covered last year (see https://editors4you.com.au/a-penny-for-your-thoughts-and-other-idioms/).

Clichés and Overused Metaphors: What’s a cliché?

The word cliché originates from the French word clicher, meaning ‘to stereotype’. A cliché is an overused idea or phrase. It becomes stale.

Let’s look at some common clichés and their origins.

Bite the bullet

Meaning to accept and endure impending hardships, this saying dates back to the English novelist Rudyard Kipling’s 1891 novel The Light That Failed. It’s speculated that the saying originates from the historic act of having dental patients bite down on a bullet during procedures. Oh, the good old days before anaesthetic. Ouch.

Turn a blind eye

This saying means to knowingly refuse to acknowledge a truthful reality. Although he might not have been the first to use it, Admiral Horatio Nelson is often credited for the saying. During the naval battle of Copenhagen in 1801, he’s said to have put his telescope to his blind right eye so he wouldn’t be able to see a disengage signal, thus ‘turning a blind eye’.

Paint the town red

This cliché, meaning to have a jolly good time, dates back to 1837, when the Marquis of Waterford and a group of friends supposedly vandalised the town of Melton Mowbray during a drunken night out. Seemingly, they broke windows, pulled off doorknockers and painted several structures in the town with red paint – hence, paint the town red.

red building in Europe for blog clichés and overused metaphors
Clichés and overused metaphors: paint the town red

By and large

This cliché is said to have originated at sea, dating back to the 16th century. ‘Large’ meant a ship sailing with the wind behind it, while ‘by’ meant a ship sailing towards or into the wind. This resulted in ‘by and large’ meaning to sail in all directions. Today, it’s used to mean ‘taking everything into consideration’.

Give the cold shoulder

Meaning to ignore someone or be unwelcoming, this saying dates back to the 1800s. When particular guests weren’t welcome, they were served cold meat – often the shoulder – a polite way of bidding them farewell.

Now, let’s take a look at overused metaphors.

What are Metaphors?

A metaphor is a phrase that makes a comparison that isn’t literal and is often symbolic. It often says that something is something else. A famous example is Shakespeare’s line All the world’s a stage (in As You Like It). This is a metaphor, as the world is not literally a stage.

The word metaphor dates back to the 15th century. There are different types of metaphors, including implied, sustained, mixed and dead.

  • Implied metaphors are subtle and indirect.
  • Sustained (or extended) metaphors are repeated throughout multiple sentences.
  • Mixed metaphors are a combination of different metaphors.
  • Dead metaphors are clichés – they’ve been used so often they’ve lost their impact.

Let’s look at some common overused metaphors and their origins.

Life is a journey

Meaning life is full of adventures, friendships, hardships and so on, this metaphor was first used in the 1920s. It is often wrongly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, although the exact origin hasn’t yet been traced.

Love is a battlefield

This metaphor means that love has its ups and downs. It became a popular saying after the release of Pat Benatar’s 1983 song Love is a Battlefield.

Laughter is the best medicine

This means that humour will help improve a situation or one’s mood. It can be traced back to the Bible. While there are various translations of the saying, the one used in the World English Bible is ‘A cheerful heart makes good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.’

young children laughing for blog Clichés and overused metaphors
Clichés and overused metaphors: laughter is the best medicine

Time is money

Meaning to use one’s time wisely to make money, this metaphor originates with Benjamin Franklin. The saying comes from his 1748 essay Advice to a Young Tradesman.

_____

Although it may be tempting to use them, try to avoid using clichés and dead (overused) metaphors in your writing.

An exception, where you could use them to perhaps comical effect, is in fiction dialogue to indicate the particular quirks of a specific character.


Credit for preparing this blog to my current intern from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Hannah Daylight.

Next blog

In our next blog, we will focus on alternatives to these and other common clichés and overused metaphors, with examples.

Acknowledgments

Andrews, E 2018, 10 Common Sayings With Historical Originshttps://www.history.com/news/10-common-sayings-with-historical-origins  

Dictionary.com 2020, Metaphorhttps://www.dictionary.com/browse/metaphor  

Grammarly 2015, 14 Expressions with Origins that You Would Never Have Guessedhttps://www.grammarly.com/blog/14-expressions-with-crazy-origins-that-you-would-never-have-guessed/  

Lepki, L 2019, The Internet’s Best List of Clichéshttps://prowritingaid.com/art/21/List-of-Clich%C3%A9s.aspx  

Literary Devices 2020, 200 Short and Sweet Metaphor Exampleshttps://literarydevices.net/a-huge-list-of-short-metaphor-examples/ 

Macquarie Dictionary 2020, https://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/features/word/search/?search_word_type=Dictionary&word=paint+the+town+red 

Quote Investigator 2020, Life Is a Journey, Not a Destinationhttps://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/08/31/life-journey/

Quote Investigator 2020, Time is money. Benjamin Franklin? https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/14/time-is-money/

The Idioms 2020, Laughter is the best medicinehttps://www.theidioms.com/laughter-is-the-best-medicine/

Underwood, Alice E.M. 2017, Metaphorshttps://www.grammarly.com/blog/metaphor/


Wikipedia 2020, Clichéhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clich%C3%A9 

IMAGES

Red building photo by Artem Saranin from Pexels

Black and white photo Pixabay

WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 31

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for editors4you newsletter Writers Connect Issue 31

Welcome to Writers Connect! Newsletter

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us. Writers Connect Issue 31 contains competition information, a word of the day and quotes to inspire your writing.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: Writing Competitions
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Humorous Quote
  • Writing Inspiration
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: Writing Events

Following are writing competitions that close during September 2020, and one that closes in August 2021 (see Comp 1 below).

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

Comp 1: Twist & Twain Short Story Contest 2020-21

We published the Twist & Twain contest in Issue 27 of the newsletter. Please note that the closing date is 15 August 2021, not 2020. So you have practically a year to prepare! Twist & Twain is an online literary magazine, and this is its second short story contest.

About: Story must be written originally in English

Open to: International 18+ both new and established writers

Length: Up to 4,000 words

Theme: Any theme, setting or genre

Closes: 15 August 2021

Entry fee: $9 (see details for residents of India vs non-residents of India)

Prizes: 1st = Rs. 25,000 (c. $300). 2nd = Rs. 15,000 (c. $180). 3rd = 10,000 (c. $120)

Details here:

https://www.twistandtwain.com/eligibility-and-entry-rules-of-short-story-contest/

Comp 2: Manchester Fiction Prize

This short story competition with a massive cash prize is open to both new and established writers from 16 years upwards.

About: Entrants may submit as many stories as they wish. Each story must be submitted as a separate entry, with a separate entry form and entry fee

Open to: International. 16+ (no upper age limit)

Word count: 2,500 maximum

Theme: Not stated, appears to be open

Closes: 18 September 2020

Entry fee: £18 (reduced price entry available – see website below)

Prize: £10,000

Details here: https://www.mmu.ac.uk/writingcompetition/fiction-prize/

Comp 3: Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition

This short story competition is open to women from any country.

About: Mslexia magazine is published four times a year. It is aimed at writers to help develop their writing and progress in the world of publishing

Open to: Women of any nationality

Word Count: 300 to 3,000 (excluding title)

Theme: Fiction and memoir

Closes: 21 September 2020

Entry fee: £10

Prizes: 1st = £3,000 + publication in December 2020 issue of Mslexia + 1 week on an Arvon retreat including a mentoring session with an editor at Virago. Three finalists = £100 each + publication in December 2020 issue of Mslexia

Details here: https://mslexia.co.uk/competition/short-story/

Comp 4: The Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize Competition 2020

In this essay competition, the judges are looking for ‘a dynamic, authoritative and lively essay’.

About: Now in its eighth year, the Financial Times and The Bodley Head, one of Britain’s leading publishers of non-fiction, team up to find the best young essay-writing talent from around the world.

Open to: Anyone internationally 18—35 writing in English

Word count: 3,500 maximum

Theme: Essay on any subject

Closes: 24 September 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prizes: 1st = £1,000 + e-publication with The Bodley Head + publication in the Financial Times + mentoring session with The Bodley Head. Two runners-up = £300 cash each + e-publication with The Bodley Head

Details here: https://survey.ft.com/jfe/form/SV_6u24tomtuVl85g1

Comp 5: Parkinson’s Art Poetry Competition

By entering this competition, you will be supporting the British charity Parkinson’s UK.

About: This poetry competition is open to anyone over 18, in any country, writing in English, and you may submit as many poems as you like

Open to: Anyone internationally 18+

Word count: 50 lines

Theme: ‘What Tomorrow Brings’

Closes: 25 September 2020

Entry fee: £2

Prizes: 1st = 50% of ticket sales (the remaining 50% goes to the Parkinson’s UK Charity). Runners-up = mystery prizes!

Details here: https://www.parkinsonsart.co.uk/poetry2020

Word of the Day

epoch

Mostly related to time and astronomy, this word means, ‘A particular period of time in history or a person’s life’, or ‘An arbitrarily fixed date relative to which planetary or stellar measurements are expressed’ (Oxford Dictionary).

Humorous quote

A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one―Baltasar Gracián (1601–1658), Spanish Jesuit philosopher and writer.

Get Inspired

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic―Carl Sagan (1934–1996), American astronomer, scientist and author.

Writing Tip

Open a book and flip to a random page. Notice a sentence that sticks out? Write a paragraph starting with that sentence and then put your own spin on what comes next.

Hope you enjoyed Writers Connect Issue 31.

Keep well, keep safe, keep writing 🙂

Common Redundant Phrases and How to Avoid Them

In today’s post about common redundant phrases and how to avoid them, we focus on improving our writing by being aware of redundancies. A redundancy is where in a sentence, we say the same thing twice using a different word or phrase that means the same thing.

There are different types of redundancies. For example, tautology is saying the same thing twice using different words or phrases, e.g. they climbed up the mountainclimb the mountain is sufficient. Pleonasm uses more words than necessary to convey our meaning, for example, to nod my head, to hear with your earsto nod and to hear are sufficient.

We use these so often that we are often unaware we are doing so. By reducing redundancies, we can make our writing (or speech) more succinct.

photo of windows in apartment block for blog common redundant phrases and how to avoid them
Common redundant phrases and how to avoid them

Examples of common redundant phrases and how to avoid them

The best way to become aware of the redundancies we might be using in our writing is by looking at a bunch of common examples. Here we go.

Each or every

Example: Each and every day, they met in the park.

The use of every conveys how often they meet, so each can be removed. Every day, they met in the park.

The result

Example: What was the end result?

Result means the outcome, so using end is superfluous. What was the result?

I’m certain

Example: She was absolutely certain she’d found the right person.

Certain implies there’s no doubt, so absolutely isn’t needed. She was certain she’d found the right person.

What a surprise

Example: It was an unexpected surprise.

A surprise is unexpected, therefore unexpected is unnecessary.  It was a surprise or It was unexpected.

On impulse

Example: The woman had a sudden impulse to run.

An impulse is sudden, so sudden can be omitted. The woman had an impulse to run.

To capacity

Example: The building was filled to capacity.

Capacity means that something is filled to the maximum, so filled isn’t needed. The building was at capacity.

Morning or am

Example: Meet me at the park at 9 am this morning today.

9 am means the morning, so this morning can be omitted. Meet me at the park at 9 am or Meet me in the morning at 9.

An estimate

Example: He roughly estimated the amount.

Estimated means that something’s roughly calculated, so roughly is redundant. He estimated the amount.

Let’s collaborate

Example: The boss wanted them to collaborate together.

Collaborate means to work together, so together can be removed. The boss wanted them to collaborate.

The present

Example: At the present time, there’s not a lot to be discussed.

Present implies this particular moment, so time isn’t needed. At present, there’s not a lot to be discussed.

No out needed

Example: The trees protruded out over the lake.

Protruded means that something extends beyond or rises above the surface, so using out is redundant. The trees protruded over the lake.

It’s in the past

Example: She looked into her family’s past history.

History means something in the past, so using past is redundant. She looked into her family’s history.

It’s free

Example: They were giving out free gifts.

Gifts are given without the receiver paying, so free can be omitted. They were giving out gifts.

Forever

Example: He told her that he’d love her forever and always.

Forever implies always, so using only one of the words will convey the same idea. He told her that he’d love her forever or He told her that he’d always love her.

The beginning

Example: When the movie first began, no one was paying attention.

Began implies the beginning of something, so using first is redundant and can be omitted. When the movie began, no one was paying attention.

Routines are regular

Example: Before starting work, he carried out his regular routine.

A routine is to do something regularly, making regular unnecessary. Before starting work, he carried out his routine.

Something new

Example: The car was a new innovation.

An innovation is a new idea or product, so using new is redundant. The car was innovative.

Summaries are short

Example: Before the professor started the lecture, she gave a short summary.

A summary is a condensed version of the main points, so using short isn’t necessary. Before the professor started the lecture, she gave a summary.

RSVP

Example: Please R.S.V.P. by the end of the month.

This is a little trickier, but to be entirely correct, because R.S.V.P. comes from the French ‘répondez s’il vous plait’ meaning ‘please respond’, please can be omitted. R.S.V.P. by the end of the month.

Sit closer

Example: They sat in close proximity.

Proximity implies nearness, so using the word close is redundant. The two words can be used interchangeably though. They sat in proximity or They sat close together.

I think

Example: In her opinion, she thought the teacher was wrong.

An opinion is someone’s thoughts and beliefs, so to use she thought is redundant. In her opinion, the teacher was wrong.

A bonus

Example: The free lunch was an added bonus.

Bonus means that something is an addition, so the use of added is superfluous. The free lunch was a bonus.


The examples given above can apply to all types of writing, as well as to speech. Next time you’re writing, be more aware of these common redundant phrases and try not to use them. Your writing will be more powerful and engaging because of the extra effort you put into it.

Acknowledgements

Fun with Words 2020, Redundant Phrases, viewed 29 August, 2020,
http://www.fun-with-words.com/redundant_phrases.html

Nichol, M 2011, 50 Redundant Phrases to Avoid, viewed 29 August 2020, https://www.dailywritingtips.com/50-redundant-phrases-to-avoid

Wikipedia 2020, Tautology (Linguistics), viewed 4 September 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology_(language)

WikiDiff 2020, Redundant vs Tautology – What’s the difference?, viewed 4 September 2020, https://wikidiff.com/redundant/tautology

Wright, C 2020, Are you using these 6 common tautologies?, viewed 3 September 2020, https://blog.lingoda.com/en/six-common-tautologies

Your Dictionary 2014, Examples of Tautology, viewed 3 September 2020,  https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-tautology.html


Many thanks to Hannah Daylight, my current intern from the University of the Sunshine Coast, for preparing this blog.

Contact Us for all your writing and editing needs: writer coaching, manuscript appraisals, comprehensive editing and self-publishing support

WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 30

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for editors4you newsletter

Welcome to the Writers Connect! Newsletter

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: Writing Competitions
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Humorous Quote
  • Writing Inspiration
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: Writing Events

Following are writing competitions that close between 1 and 21 September 2020.

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

 

Comp 1: The Pen/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction

Do you love writing fiction about subjects that make a difference? Then this may be just the competition for you.

About: This is a career-founding prize promoting fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships.

Open to: International, previously unpublished novel of high literary calibre

Length: Full manuscript

Theme: Issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships

Closes: 1 September 2020

Entry fee: $40

Prizes: 1st = $25,000 US cash prize + publication

Details here: https://pen.org/pen-bellwether-prize/

 

Comp 2: Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology Contest

The name of this competition was what drew me to read about it!

About: ‘The winning stories will be edited and published by Dancing Lemur Press’ imprint Freedom Fox Press in the 2021 IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honour of giving the anthology its title’

Open to: International. Age limit not stated

Word count: 4,500 – 6,000

Theme: ‘Dark Matter’ – the genre is science fiction

Closes: 2 September 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prize: Winning stories = edited & published by Freedom Fox Press in 2021 IWSG anthology + Royalties on books sold (print & eBook) + top story gives the anthology its title

Details here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/the-2019-annual-iwsg-anthology-contest.html

Also, see here for guidance on the types of stories published by Freedom Fox Press: http://www.dancinglemurpressllc.com/freedom-fox-press

 

Comp 3: Oxford Brookes University International Poetry Competition

A competition for poets, that has two categories.

About: The two categories are:

Open category (open to all poets 18+)

English as an Additional Language (EAL) category (open to all poets 18+ who write in English as an Additional Language)

Open to: 18+ poets, new or established poets, anywhere in the world

Word Count: 50 lines

Theme: Appears to be open

Closes: 14 September 2020

Entry fee: £5

Prizes: 1st = £1,000 (GBP) the winner of each category. The two runners-up = £200.

Details here: https://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/international-poetry-competition/

 

Comp 4: Mslexia Fiction & Memoir Competition 2020: Children’s & YA Novel

There are four categories for women writers – memoir and life writing, short story, flash fiction, and children’s and YA novel. Hopefully you’ll find at least one category that matches your writing.

About: This prize has been created specifically to promote the work of women who are unpublished novelists

Open to: Women, international

Word count: Full manuscript – NOTE: submit the first 5,000 words of completed novels of at least 20,000 words in length, for children and/or YA readers

Theme: Not stated

Closes: 21 September 2020

Entry fee: £25

Prizes: 1st = £5,000. Also, the winner and three finalists will be invited to a pitching workshop and a networking event with agents and editors, and will receive manuscript feedback from The Literary Consultancy

Details here https://mslexia.co.uk/products/competition_entry_fee/mslexia-fiction-memoir-competition-2020-childrens-ya-novel/

 

Word of the Day

tsundoku

This Japanese slang word originated in the Meiji era (1868–1912) – the very beginning of modern Japan. It means to buy an abundance of books and let them pile up without reading any. Its English equivalent would be bibliomania, which may be a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder involving the collecting or hoarding of books to the point where social relations or health are damaged. Bibliomania is distinguished from bibliophilia, which is the healthy love of books. Phew, thank goodness, I’m a biliophile!

Humorous Quote

I write to discover what I think. After all, the bars aren’t open that early ― Daniel J. Boorstin (1914—2004), American historian.

Get Inspired

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly ― Anne Rice (1941—), American author of gothic fiction, Christian literature and erotic literature.

Writing Tip

Write everything going through your mind – your stream of consciousness – for five to ten minutes without thinking about it and then read it to see what you came up with.

Keep well, keep safe, keep writing 🙂

First Person and Third Person Points of View

Using first person and third person points of view means writing from the ‘I’ or the ‘we’ perspective (first person), or from the ‘he’/‘she’/‘it’/‘they’ perspective (third person).

Our blog at the end of July delved into writing from second person point of view (see https://editors4you.com.au/writing-from-second-person-point-of-view/). This time, we focus on first person and third person points of view. We also break down the different types of first person and third person narratives.

Unlike the second person point of view, first and third person are the two most used perspectives. Each has its pros and cons. If you’ve ever sat down to write and been faced with the challenge of choosing which point of view to write from, we hope that this article will help you.

Let’s start by looking at first person point of view (POV).

First Person POV

young man writing in vintage clothes for blog First Person and Third Person Points of View
I am … First Person and Third Person Points of View (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

First person is narrated through the character/s and uses ‘I’ or ‘we’. It allows the reader to connect with the narrator more. There are two main types of first person POV – first person limited and first person omniscient.

First person limited POV

This is from the perspective of one character – usually ‘I’ – and is limited to their knowledge.

First person omniscient POV

Written from the perspective of a narrator who is also a character in the story, and who knows everything about the other characters, their thoughts, feelings, and so on. This is a relatively rare POV.

Within these two POVs, there usually exist three types of narrators:

  1. The unreliable narrator – as the name implies, the narrator isn’t reliable as they show the readers what’s happening through their eyes only, and often in a misconstrued way.
  2. The reliable narrator – when the narrator is telling the truth, or as close to it as possible. It is easier for readers to trust this narrator.
  3. The observer – usually written from the perspective of someone close to the main character, it is similar to omniscient third person. However, it is limited to what the observer knows and sees.

There are a few pros and cons to using first person.

The pros:

  • Allows readers to connect with the characters and narrator more as they get a direct insight into the narrator’s thoughts and feelings
  • The narrator may be unreliable, which allows for plot twists and keeps the reader interested.

The cons:

  • It’s limited, as readers can only experience the story through the narrator  
  • The narrator isn’t trustworthy
  • Can be biased.
When writing in first person, it’s important to remember to:
  • Not overuse pronouns, such as ‘I’ and ‘we’
  • Check that you’ve been consistent in tense usage
  • Be careful of too much introspection – a character’s inner monologue
  • Show, not tell
  • Avoid using tags such as ‘I thought’ after italicised thoughts
  • Make sure the voices reflect the characters’ differences when there is more than one narrator
  • If you’re writing in first person limited, be careful of writing about things your character wouldn’t know.
Well-known works that use first person POV include:
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, unreliable first person narration
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, first person limited
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, also written in first person limited
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, written in first person but from multiple points of view
  • The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe, unreliable first person narration
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, omniscient first person (the narrator is Death).

Third Person POV

photo of 4 people at sunset for blog First person and third person points of view
He, she and they … (Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels)

Third person narrative uses ‘she’, ‘he’, ‘they’ or ‘it’ (less commonly). Third person uses four kinds of POVs:

  1. Omniscient – this is when the narrator knows everything, as the use of the word ‘omniscient’ implies. The narrator knows everything about multiple characters, their feelings, the setting, and so on.
  2. Limited – as the name suggests, this limits the narrator to either one or two characters, and their experiences.
  3. Objective – this is when the narrator is more factual and unbiased.
  4. Subjective – this is when the narrator can relay the characters’ thoughts and feelings.

Just like first person, using third person has its own pros and cons.

The pros:

  • Allows for easier use of multiple POVs
  • Reliable narration
  • If written in omniscient third person, the narrator knows everything and can shift around the story
  • What’s clear to the reader isn’t always obvious to the characters – so it allows readers to connect more to the characters and understand the reasoning behind their actions
  • Unbiased
  • Easier to introduce backstory.

The cons:

  • There can be a bit of disconnect between the characters and the readers
  • Harder to introduce flashbacks.

When writing in third person, it’s important to remember to:

  • Be careful of head-hopping; this is jumping from one character’s POV to another’s
  • Differentiate your characters – particularly when using more than one POV, you need to ensure that the voices are distinct and the characters’ characteristics and mannerisms aren’t identical.

Famous examples that use third person POV include:

  • 1984 by George Orwell, third person limited
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin , told through a multitude of POVs, and uses third person limited and omniscient
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, third person omniscient.

Exercise

Take a piece of your writing and change the POV. If your work is written in first person, change it to third person. If it’s in third person, change it to first person.

Here’s an example of mine from a previous uni assessment.

Example 1 – first person

They had said this was my punishment, but also my salvation.

After that, I was pushed and shoved until I was outside. I didn’t dare fight the man who threw me into the back of a car, blindfolding me without a word.

Example 2 – third person

They had said this was his punishment, but also his salvation.

After that, he was pushed and shoved until he was outside. He didn’t dare fight the man who threw him into the back of a car, blindfolding him without a word.

If you’re interested in seeing how the different POVs work and how they affect the story, check out the works of the authors given above. 

Acknowledgements for First Person and Third Person Points of View

Berve, C, 2018, 3 Types of First Person Narrators: Benefits and Pitfalls, viewed 18 August 2020, https://www.ignitedinkwriting.com/ignite-your-ink-blog-for-writers/types-of-first-person-narrators/2017#:~:text=If%20a%20writer%20chooses%20to,unreliable%20character%20telling%20the%20story.

Botha, M, 2015, The Pros And Cons Of Writing In First Person, viewed 18 August, https://www.writerswrite.co.za/the-pros-and-cons-of-first-person-viewpoint/

Botha, M, 2015, The Pros And Cons Of Writing In Third Person, viewed 18 August 2020, https://www.writerswrite.co.za/the-pros-and-cons-of-writing-in-third-person/

Bradshaw, C, 2020, 7 Essential Guidelines for Writing in First Person, viewed 19 August 2020, https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/7-essential-guidelines-for-writing-in-first-person/

NY Book Editors, All About Point of View: Which One Should You Use?, viewed 18 August 2020, https://nybookeditors.com/2016/01/all-about-point-of-view-which-one-should-you-use/

Reedsy Blog 2019, First Person Point of View: A Writer’s Guide, viewed 18 August 2020, https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/point-of-view/first-person-pov/

Reedsy Blog 2019, Third Person Omniscient and Third Person Limited: The Essentials, viewed 18 August 2020, https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/point-of-view/third-person-limited-omniscient/  

Wikipedia 2020, Narration, viewed 18 August 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narration#Second-person 


Many thanks to my current intern, Hannah Daylight from the University of the Sunshine Coast School of Creative Industries, for writing this post First Person and Third Person Points of View.