Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tips for Fiction Writers: Which Character Has the Most to Lose?

by PeggySue Wells @PeggySueWells

Rewrite your chapter from the viewpoint of another character.

The assignment was a consumer of valuable time but that’s what my mentor required.

Enrolled in a mentorship program, each fresh chapter of my novel went to award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, who helped improve my skills.

I opened a fresh Word file on my laptop, MacBeth, pulled the weakest chapter from the work in progress and pasted it there. Then I went about getting through this requirement so I could move onto the next – hopefully more important—step. 

Of course, something magical happened as I took the chapter out of the hero’s view. Most of the story is seen from his eyes anyway. This scene only had two characters in it—the good guy and the not good guy. This was the point of no return, the moment when the bad guy made his move against our protagonist. From the good guy’s POV, he just had to be there and get got. The passive victim.

But the villain became three dimensional as I scoped out the landscape from his calculating eye. Our friendly friends and neighbors were suddenly dangerous if they noticed him. Every movement was orchestrated to get the dirty deed done without a witness. To commit the witnessless crime. 

Okay, fine. So maybe this assignment wasn’t a waste of time. Maybe this chapter became one of my favorites. Among the many other lessons that improved my fiction skills, I learned that when a chapter lacks that page-turning depth, write it from the view of another character. 

Key lesson: write each chapter from the point of view of the character who has the most to lose.

I may have learned plenty of other excellent writing skills that moved me to the next level in my abilities. Certainly, there was an added delight in writing chapters and developing story lines when DiAnn was going to read through it, provide worthy feedback designed to encourage and inspire me, and we would spend that glorious hour on the phone talking about one of my favorite subjects—grandchildren. Kidding. Writing, of course.

About the novel? I finished it—all 420 pages. And I am writing the sequel with two other stories in the series outlined. If I get stuck, I can apply that time-consuming exercise and write the chapter from the viewpoint of another character. The one with the most to lose.

Tips for Fiction Writers: Which Character Has the Most to Lose? @PeggySueWells on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tropical island votary and history buff, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. Optimistic dream-driver, PeggySue is named for the Buddy Holly song with the great drumbeat. At school author visits, she teaches students the secrets to writing, and speaks at events and conferences. Connect with her at www.PeggySueWells.com, on Facebook at PeggySue Wells, and Twitter @PeggySueWells. 


  1. I've done that before - sometimes because it's just falling flat and I can't figure out why, and sometimes when I realize I haven't pulled in the other POV in a while! LOL! It makes such a difference! Great tip - Great MENTOR! :)

  2. Peggy Sue, thank you for your sweet words! Write on!

  3. This is such good advice, Peggy! I have had scenes come alive simply by changing the POV character. You're right that we need to write each scene from the POV of the character who has the most at stake. Thanks for your post! :)

  4. Wow, thanks for the short story about Michael flying. Great stuff. Now I will have to get the book.
    Oh, and thanks for the tip on POV. I will remember it. And for fun, I just might try writing some chapters from several of the people in them.