Lazy Writing vs. Deep POV

Lessons From a Recovering Writer

Judging by the suggestions in my manuscript, you would think I had just started out with this writing thing.  I know better. When had I gotten so lazy?

Yes, I’d rushed a little to finish the manuscript. But what good is it if you have to go back and make dozens of changes?

Too many tags. I know not to do that. What are tags, and why not use them?

  1. “You can’t go that way, the road is out,” Darlene said.
  2. Darlene grabbed Gabe’s hand. “You can’t go that way, the road is out.”

#1 – “Darlene said,” is a tag. It identifies the speaker in the sentence.  Nothing wrong with it, but read the second sentence.

#2 – In a deeper point of view (POV), you use an action beat to identify the speaker. “Darlene grabbed Gabe’s hand,” is an action beat. You’re in the story. Nothing distracts you.

It’s okay to use tags. But if you want a deeper POV, you’ll limit your use of tags. I had way too many, and they were distracting.

I also overused some words. I found 176 uses of the word, “whisper.” I also used whispers, whispered, and whispering. Again–distraction!

That’s lazy writing. When you have to go back in and change those, it’s not just distracting, but it’s irritating. And while I’m confessing, let’s talk about then. I have a habit of saying, “and then,” which translates to my writing. “Then he went…”

“Lou called Amy and then left for work.”–Not so bad, but 48 instances of “and then”–definite distraction. And just when I think I’ve learned a thing or two, I find out how little I know. Yes, I’m aware I started a sentence with and. I also occasionally start a sentence with but. Your editor may call you out on it, but it’s not the end of the world. But…if you overuse it–lazy. And distracting!

 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.–1 Peter 1:17 The Message Bible

Sloppy living. Yes, that’s another way of saying…laziness. *Sigh*

So, all you have to do is remove tags for a deeper POV?

Well, no–there’s a lot more to it than that. But it would take another, much longer post to talk about it. If you’re interested in learning more about  deep point of view, here are a couple of great resources:

The Art of Characterization by Fay Lamb

Put on your director’s cap and prepare to set your story world’s stage with memorable scenes and unforgettable characters.

Great storytelling isn’t done haphazardly. Storytelling is an art which requires practice to master. In The Art of Characterization authors are shown elements of storytelling which, when practiced correctly, utilizes forward–moving description and back story, deep point of view, dialogue, and conflict to create a cast of characters readers will never forget.

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

How do you create a main character readers won’t forget? How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)? How do you plant essential information about a character’s past into a story?

Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of these questions and more! This accessible book is filled with interactive exercises and valuable advice that teaches you how to:

  • Choose and execute the best point of view for your story
  • Create three-dimensional and believable characters
  • Develop your characters’ emotions
  • Create realistic love, fight, and death scenes
  • Use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story

With dozens of excerpts from some of today’s most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint provides you with the techniques you need to create characters and stories sure to linger in the hearts and minds of agents, editors, and readers long after they’ve finished your book.

What word(s) do you tend to overuse in your writing?

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Spring Floods and Unexpected Visitors

It won’t be long now. Just weeks, and Sutter’s Landing, the sequel to Annabelle’s Ruth, will be available for purchase. We’re getting ready. Working through final edits, choosing the cover, preparing the marketing aspects. A lot of work goes into the release of a novel.

As Book 2 of the Kinsman Redeemer Series opens, Annabelle and Connie have settled into their little home on the old Sterling Place. Alton Wade, Annabelle’s young cousin, continues to court Connie. As her attachment to him grows, Connie struggles with her emotions.

Momma held the door for her (Connie). “You best get in here before you catch your death.”

Death. As she turned toward the door, Connie glanced over her shoulder to the place where Alton had disappeared into the mist . . . Would death steal him away from her, too? She sucked in a jagged breath as the screen door eased shut behind her. She sincerely hoped not. But thoughts like these were a daily struggle. When did one overcome such a fear?

It’s 1955, and the usual spring rains are a bit heavier than normal. In fact, they just don’t want to stop. Days of rain leave the surrounding lowlands completely under water.

How long will the rains continue, and even then, how long before the cotton fields are dry enough to plant?

One of the nicest things about small town living is having neighbors who care. In the fifties, folks often stopped by to “set a spell,” and visit. Imagine that. Surprising, at times, who stops by for a visit. Especially when the visitor is looking for Annabelle.

And then another man shows up on their doorstep. One Connie would never have expected. Not in a million years.

I’d like to invite you back to Trenton, Tennessee, as the story continues. The release date is tentatively set for June 20.

Samson and I will keep you posted.



Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Who was Robert Robinson? A hymnast–he penned one of my favorite old hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. He was also a preacher, pastor, writer, and avid reader.

Born into poverty in Swaffham, Norfolk (England), in 1735, Robinson had a rough start. His mother was said to be a godly woman, who longed to see him become a clergyman. But in those days, a calling took money and position. His father died when Robinson was quite young, so the boy was indentured to a barber and hairdresser in Crutched Friars, London. He loved to read and read as much as he was able. After hearing a sermon preached by George Whitefield, he found “peace by believing” — after about three years of struggle (wandering–according to Robinson).

During a time of many great preachers like Whitefield, Gill, and Wesley, Robinson read, studied, and eventually agreed to speak in a Methodist church. His sermon well accepted, he was invited to fill the position. He would eventually move from the Methodist persuasion to the Baptist. He’d eventually pen some well-known sermons, poems, and hymns.

To me, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is not only a hymn — it’s poetry. I love reading the lyrics. Some hymns are very simplistic, but this one seems to reach deeper and is well based in scripture.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
mount of God’s redeeming love.

Here I find my greatest treasure*;
hither by thy help I’ve come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
bought me with his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee:
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.

[The Psalter Hymnal, 1987]

A fourth verse not included in some hymnals:

Hallelujah! I have found it,
The full cleansing I had craved,
And to all the world I’ll sound it:
They too may be wholly saved.
I am sealed by Thy sweet Spirit,
Prone no longer now to roam;
And Thy voice, I’ll humbly hear it,
For Thy presence is my home.

*Interesting, the original text for the second stanza begins, “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” (which is how I remembered it being sung in the movie, Little Women.) –What in the world did the author mean by that?

You’ll find the answer in 1 Samuel 7:12 — “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (NIV)

During this Easter season, many congregations will get out some of the old hymns and sing them. What’s your favorite?

May God bless your Easter celebration!

I hope you’ll enjoy listening to Chris Tomlin’s version of the song, via You Tube:

[Some information for this article from]

Featuring: Virginia Smith, Author

My featured author this month is another native Kentuckian, though she spends part of her time in Utah. Virginia “Ginny” Smith was my first real writer friend. We met at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference when I “happened into” one of her classes. Though there by mistake, I was so entertained I decided to stay, then returned for the repeat of the class. I wrote pages of notes. I not only learned a great deal that day, but also gained one of the most important things you can receive at a writer’s conference–friendship.

I think a good story begins in the author’s heart. It grows and matures there, nourished by love and imagination, until it is strong enough to emerge into the world through a skillful pen. When others read the story, it seeps into their hearts and settles for a while. That’s what I strive to do – tell stories that connect us heart to heart. Stories that slip from my heart to yours. The styles of my books vary, just like my tastes as a reader – some are funny, some thoughtful, some suspenseful, some deeply moving. In every one you will meet new friends so real you’ll miss them when they’re gone.–from her website here.

She has certainly succeeded in doing that. Her characters are well-grounded and real, and her stories are varied. Whatever your preferred genre, you’re likely to find it among the books she’s authored.

Her newest release is The Amish Widower, (The Men of Lancaster County, Book 4).

Is It Time for This Widower to Give Love One More Chance?

After the devastating loss of his second wife, Seth Hostetler believes a lasting love is beyond all hope. A year has passed, and his mamm and sister are determined to see him happily married once again. But how can he open his heart to another woman when their relationship could end in tragedy?

On an outing with his family, Seth comes across an Amish potter hard at work and jumps at the chance to take a seat at the wheel. He takes quickly to this creative outlet, pouring his long-buried emotions into each piece he shapes. Unfortunately, the fancy nature of his art draws the disapproval of his district’s leadership.

His work puts him in the path of Leah, an Englisch woman employed by the Amish to sell their wares to tourists. Despite her aloofness, something about her speaks to Seth’s wounded soul. But what is he to do when the things he wants most threaten to pull him away from the life he’s committed to live?

A compelling novel of second chances and the power of God to redeem hearts and dreams, set in the inviting Amish community of Lancaster County.

One reviewer said about The Amish Widower–“Master storyteller, Virginia Smith, weaves a painful and poignant tale of twice-widowed Seth. On a whim, Seth takes a free pottery lesson from a local Amish artisan and discovers a measure of peace–and finds he has a talent for the craft. I appreciate an author who does her research–in this case, in the art of throwing pottery–and guides us through the eyes, make that the hands, of her characters. So tactile are Smith’s descriptions, my own fingers twitched to feel the clay…”

Ginny and me at the 2016 ACFW Conference

VIRGINIA SMITH is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels (and counting!), an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists in many prestigious awards, and two of her novels received the Holt Medallion Award of Merit. Learn more about Ginny and her books at

Click here to check out her Amazon author page for more information and a complete offering of her books!