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Novel Writing Program Sample - 3POV Levels and Four Narrative Stages

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The sample below is one part of a single module in the second half of the novel writing program. The purpose of this is to simply give you a sample of the module, not define all that came before.


Let's get right to the point on this issue. Yes, we know that CATCHER IN THE RYE and HUCKLEBERRY FINN would never have been famous novels without the engaging first person voice of their protagonists. And yes, first person seems to be in vogue with paranormal YA and some fantasy here and there, however, third person point of view is the best way to relate a dynamic work of fiction, hands down. Unless the first person voice is so remarkable, unique and/or compelling that the novel could not exist without it, third person is strongly advised.

For purposes of this study, we define four levels of third person point of view (3POV) as follows:

  • Author-POV
  • 3POV Distant
  • 3POV Close
  • 3POV First-Close

The Author-POV or APOV, refers to the author, the detached or "omniscient narrator" who steps in now and then to set the scene or make artful commentary at the right time (just *please* don't address the reader directly because that is so irritating and breaks the reader's immersion into the fictional dream). 3POV Distant or 3POV-D occurs at such time the narrative focuses on a specific character and we watch her or his actions as if we are the camera actively filming this character. 3POV Close or 3POV-C takes us into the character's head and camera viewpoint shifts to the character, i.e., we see or experience, for the most part, only what the character is viewing or experiencing. 3POV First-Close or 3POV-FC dives deeper into the character's head and effectively mimics first person POV, but naturally without the usual limits of first person POV because the author can cut from the 3POV-FC and pull all the way back to APOV.




What's one of the best ways to ensure a publishing contract? Master the art of writing fiction narrative, of course. But what does that mean, and are you sure you know the difference between relatively quiet fiction narrative and verve-packed narrative? Are you setting your standards high enough? Are you aware of the level of craft and attention to detail that will make you a great writer with not only a solid career, but a huge number of conference appearances wherein you can, with little effort, and in front of hundreds of people, act like a legend in your own mind?

Writers set standards for themselves, often ignorant of how high the standards need to be raised in order for them to be as competitive as possible in this current marketplace.

Rather than tell, let's show examples of how to take somewhat ordinary, perhaps even vaguely interesting narrative, and make it as competitive and energetic as possible by adding imagery, metaphor, emotion, more active verbs and better sentence structure.



MODULE ASSIGNMENT (three parts) as follows:

  • PART 1
    In 3POV, use the following scenario to write a scene. The scenario as follows: your protagonist narrator attends an antique car show (you choose location, season and types of cars), observes the cars, the sounds, the smells, the people, meets someone they know (you choose character), dialogue ensues. Then quite suddenly, the car show is invaded by a large gang of hooded men (you choose color of hoods and accents) who "steal the show" and hold the cars hostage, demanding the wealthy and terrified owners wire money to the gang's bank in Hungary via iPhone, or else they will bullet-riddle the priceless cars into mangled junk. Then something goes terribly wrong. But why? You figure it out. And btw, the character your protagonist met earlier is killed by a stray bullet. Your protagonist must act. What will she or he do? Fight? Escape? Save someone else? All of above?

    A few things:
    • Consider this a scene in a novel. Confine the length to not more than 1,000 words.
    • You must transition effectively through all four levels of 3POV as defined in this Module.
    • You must elevate the prose narrative to a level commensurate with Level 3 as defined in this Module.

    PART 2

    Utilizing the same scenario and bulleted goals above, now translate it through a completely different viewpoint. Choose any character you wish, just make certain the character you choose brings their own viewpoint and tone to the work, e.g., an eccentric friend of the protagonist, the person who gets shot, one of the gang, the snobby manager of the car show, a child with his parents? 1000 word limit.

    PART 3

    Taking a favorite narrative sample from your own work-in-progress, or a suitable work, elevate it to the third level of narrative transformation, as defined above, and transition through all four 3POV levels. Limit of 500 words.



Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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