Monday, May 14, 2018

My mission, should I choose to accept it

Ana muses about a writing challenge.

Last week, the plot of my next chapter requires the hero to battered, put aboard a steam freighter, and expected to die of his injuries. Naturally, being the hero, he lives, but wakes with amnesia. My original draft of this chapter was in a secondary character's POV. Reasonably well-written with dialogue reveals of the hero's situation and condition.

First feedback from a round one crit partner was thumb's down. "Too telling. Try from his POV."

Hmmm. How to write a scene from an unconscious character's POV? Guess he can't be unconscious.
Here's what I have now. What do you think?

The man awoke to drumbeat throbs in his head. He tried to fill his lungs.
Pain stabbed his ribs. 
With an effort that almost left him spent, he forced one eye to open a crack. The other stayed shut.
Somewhere behind him, a hissing lantern cast a faint light. 
He lay prone on a floor, hands crossed on his chest like a corpse. Stacks of burlap sacks towered above him. He swiped his parched tongue over his lips and loosened a chunk of crusted blood. A gash oozed, refreshing the sickening taste of metal coating his mouth.
Feet shuffled past his head, followed by a heavy thump. 
He tried to cry for help, but all that came out was a barely-audible groan.  
“Think he’s stopped breathing?” a man whispered.
“I hope so,” a second replied. “I’ll check.”
Did they mean him? His heart raced with desperation. He’d heard of people who appeared dead and were buried alive. 
A floorboard creaked. Grunts sounded near his ears. Something thin and sharp-edged touched his lower lip. A piece of glass or broken mirror.
Summoning his last ounce of strength, he exhaled and prayed his breath would fog the glass.
“Sonofabitch,” the second man exclaimed. “He’s still alive. He must have medicine man blood in his veins.”
“You still wanna dump him overboard?” the first man asked.
“Can’t until he’s dead. Damn. How am I going to explain this to the captain?”


  1. This is very good, Ana! I didn't see the previous version, but in general, unless your secondary character is given POV throughout the book--and there's a compelling reason to do so, it's better to keep all POV to the main characters. Much more vivid and immediate. Great job!

  2. Thanks, Jen. It took me some head scratching to think of how to write this. But you are right: POV should be in main characters only.

  3. This works for me! Good sensory details and I concur with Jen, keeping to the main characters' POV for pivotal scenes is best.

    Is this the end of a chapter? It makes a really good cliffhanger!! :)

    1. Thanks! I'm getting better at the sensory details.
      Chapter 12 was the heroine's POV. This is the opening to chapter 13. The captain comes next and orders his first mate to treat the hero's injuries.

  4. This is great, as we can feel, see and hear everything the character is experiencing. Well done!