Writing Tips: Point-of-View and Switching Characters

One of the more difficult things to talk about when it comes to writing, in my opinion at least, is point-of-view.  Though the concept itself is pretty easily grasped, it’s also a major one that gets brushed off as unimportant in a lot of cases.  Particularly for writers who write their stories by instinct, the point-of-view is something that happens naturally depending on what they’re going for.  Unfortunately, this can often result in the point-of-view being written poorly.

However, of particular note for today’s tips, we’re going to focus in on stories where the point-of-view is limited, but the limited view is switched between various characters.  Now for some who aren’t avid readers, this may seem like a foreign concept to a degree.  There are numerous contemporary stories that use limited view, but they only ever focus on the protagonist.  However, there are indeed still others where it utilizes specific viewpoints of different characters to show different aspects of the story (Game of Thrones is one example).

Why this particular subject, though?  In my opinion, it is perhaps the one that poses the most risk to poor writing, as characters are often the driving force of a story.  As such, messing up how these viewpoint switches occur can quickly turn readers off.  There are ways to prevent this though, which is my goal for today: tips on how you can make sure you’re able to switch characters successfully.  Please keep in mind there are numerous things to watch out for, but these are the areas I believe one should be most concerned with.

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The Power of Sound Effects

As someone who is a big fan of Subnautica, I often keep up with updates to the game, usually via various Youtubers who cover the game extensively.  Without spoiling too much, a huge portion of the end game is in development right now (when this article was written anyway).  Since it’s a key story point, it’s being tweaked to be as impactful as possible.  Animations, voice acting, textures, and tons of other aspects keep being overhauled to present the most satisfying moment that could be achieved.  However, in some of the more recent updates, one additive that added a ton of impact caught my eye: the sound effects.

Sound effects are one of those aspects of creative media that often get overlooked.  Whether the sound effects are audio or implied to with words, they make a huge difference despite being minor additives.  Unfortunately, in numerous indie industries, they can often be underused.  While certainly you run the risk of oversaturating a piece with sound effects, they are still an essential that should never be neglected.  To hammer in this point, let us examine why the sound effects make a difference in two industries: gaming and comics.

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Strange Writing Mistakes

Anyone who takes writing seriously knows that there are certain conventions that should be followed.  From simple things like “they’re” vs. “there” vs. “their” to bigger things like handling protagonist character development, there are numerous mistakes that are talked about frequently.  However, there are still even more mistakes that do not get talked about often, if only because they used to be infrequent.  Yes, I did say used to be.

Due to my myriad of project types, I end up reading a lot in one day and get exposed to a lot of mistakes I’m surprised people even make.  That being said, there are a few in particular that not only grind my gears, but also are a concerning trend in certain areas of the internet.  As such, I would like to take a moment to address these unspoken mistakes.  You too may have seen these and felt the irritation I do.

Keep in mind these mistakes are pretty variable and don’t particularly have a consistent theme like previous articles; nevertheless, they are worth discussing.

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DC Movies, Tone, and Why it Hurts

While I’m not a huge mainstream comic fan, I’m averagely familiar with Marvel’s and DC’s franchises.  Really, living in America, it’s hard not to be at least somewhat familiar with them.  They are fairly pervasive in the culture, and with the recent string of superhero movies, they are pretty well-known characters.  That being said, those familiar with the current state of movies know one thing: Marvel is doing better.  Not to say, of course, that Marvel always has masterpiece movies, but Marvel has had more successes in the past few years than DC.  In fact, outside of a few Batman movies, such as The Dark Knight, most DC flicks are forgettable or laugh worthy.

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Project Organization Tips

So, you’ve got your big project planned, but feel overwhelmed because there’s a lot to do.  Or, even worse, you’re in the middle of the project and keep missing deadlines, keep forgetting to do particular parts, etc..  These are generally all symptoms of lacking organization.

From my experience, lacking organization for your project is the quickest way to kill it, whether you’re working alone or with a group.  Even if you think you can remember everything off the top of your head, distractions in life will always pop up and prompt you to forget things.  As such, in my opinion having good organization for any project is the first key to success.  Surprisingly, though, few people ever seem to have a clear idea on how to get themselves organized.  Thus, the purpose of my article today is to give you my tips and tricks for getting organized and staying on top of your project.

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Side Quests: Making Interesting “Fetch Quests”

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Dragon Age: Inquisition (specifically the Hinterlands).

 

The week before last I analyzed side quests and how you could make them more compelling than the generic fetch quests one might see in a grind-like MMORPG.  At the heart of the matter, I illustrated three ways one could make them interesting, namely: having side quests add to the story, having side quests with worthwhile loot, or having side quests with an enormous gameplay challenge.  In regards to story, I discussed certain aspects in Dragon Age II and how some of its side quests vastly change outcome of the story.  However, today I would like to expound on this point some more, and also tackle fetch quests which I didn’t talk about fully in that post.

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Tips for Writing Good Magic Systems

Magic is a tricky subject when it comes to any story.  Whether you’re writing an epic, medieval fantasy or a space opera, you have a high chance of creating characters who are capable of feats beyond our normal, mortal means.  Unfortunately for beginners, magic has a high risk of becoming too over-powered, too confusing, or too plot deviced.  There are a plethora of ways magic can go wrong, whether you’re writing it for a novel, game, or anything else.  It is not a topic for the faint of heart, as the saying goes.

That being said, however, there are certain mindsets that can help you create better magic systems for your stories.  In this article, I’ve chosen three tips that, at least for beginners, should be kept in mind while developing your world.  Before we begin, I will note that like most “rules” in writing, they can be broken.  These tips are not set in stone; rather, they should be used as guidelines to help you along the process.  With that out of the way now, let’s begin.

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Side Quests: Interesting vs. Boring

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Dragon Age II and Kingdom Hearts.

 

Anyone who has played any sort of mission/quest based game is familiar with side quests.  They’re those pesky optional quests that the player can choose to complete or not.  Some are simple, such as delivering a package to the NPC in the next town.  Some are challenging, like cave diving for a treasure.  Then there’s also the invariably hard and cruel ones that have you defeat some optional boss that takes every ounce of your being to defeat.  In either case, side quests come in a variety of flavors and vastly help to buffer the gameplay time.

However, not all side quests were created equal.  In fact, some can be outright snore fests.  Take, for instance, pretty much any optional quest in an MMORPG.  In general, these fall into one of a few categories: kill a certain number of creatures, collect certain ingredients/items, or deliver something to an NPC.  MMORPGs are very formulaic when it comes to this matter.  While these side quests do earn you experience points (exp) and virtual money, they have little else to offer the player.  They are, essentially, what makes a lot of MMORPGs grind-fests as it were.  Single player games can often be guilty of the same thing, especially for the RPG genre in general.

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Quick Tips for Business E-mails

While e-mailing your friends is easy enough, it’s often a whole other ballpark to e-mail a business or similar professional entity.  Is this too formal?  Will they care I didn’t capitalize this word?  What else should I do?  These are just some of the questions that may pop into your head as you try to conquer your nervousness.  As someone who deals with a lot of professional e-mails in an indie setting, though, there are a lot of common mistakes that get made that I feel the average person doesn’t quite consider.  That being the case, I wanted to impart my wisdom in these four quick tips that will help you compose a better e-mail.

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