From Beside Quiet Waters

He leads me beside quiet waters,

He refreshes my soul.

Waiting for the Galena Bay ferry

Vacations are meant to refresh, and mine has. It has been a time spent beside (and on) many quiet waters, travelling and sharing happy times with our family.  From the coast, we towed our fifth-wheel to the Okanagan, then followed our son’s truck, camper and boat into areas of the Columbia and Kootenays. We shared in our DIL’s lakeside family reunion, and then had one of our own — the first time in years that all three of our married children and at least some of their children have been altogether with us. So far, we’ve had 100% sunshine, too, if you discount a couple nighttime thunderstorms. It’s been this vacationer’s idea of a perfect holiday!

Upper Arrow Lake, BC

Summit Lake, BC

Kootenay Lake, BC

Moyie Lake, BC

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

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God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

[Psalm 23 – The Message]

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How does perspective affect mood in a novel?

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The word perspective has several synonyms including perception, angle, outlook, and viewpoint. Granted, each of them carries a slightly different nuance, but how often do we consider the importance of that when deciding which point of view to use in our stories?

After we decide on the main characters, there is always the question about first, second or third person point of view, and the appropriate tense. Sometimes the decisions are made very offhandedly, as if it doesn’t really matter as long as we choose one and stick with it.

What I’ve been noticing, however, is how the mood of a novel seems to depend on the personality represented by the point of view. Not only does each character have a distinctive personality, but so also does every narrator, and it is reflected in how the story is told.

This idea suggests we should know our characters well before beginning to write – not something that comes easy for me. I tend to develop my characters as I write, knowing them intimately only when I finally reach the conclusion. That might explain why I sometimes end up switching point of view and tense during my revisions. If I did more detailed character studies before I began I wouldn’t have quite so many changes to make later. (I tell myself that constantly, but when a character begs to have his story told I can’t wait to dive in. Does that mean I’m undisciplined? Oh, please don’t tell me that! I have enough problems.)

One of the reasons my first novel has been permanently shelved is because the protagonist is unsympathetic. She’s always discouraged or depressed, and no matter how I rework the chapters, they’re still going to reflect her personality. I’m pretty sure I need to replace her with a stronger, more upbeat character or rewrite the entire story from a different point of view, not something I want to tackle… at least, not yet. I have another cheeky character taunting me with her story.

 What determines how you choose the POV and tense for your stories? How would it affect the tone of your writing if you switched perspective?

 

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