A Lesson on Narration Styles and Adverbs
By guest contributor Macy Cochran
Hello writers, new and experienced alike! There’s never been such a thing as over-studying, so allow us here at IngramElliott to offer our best lesson on narration styles and adverbs in dialogue tags, a couple of the most important aspects to consider while drafting.
Point of View
The point of view (POV) of your book sets the initial tone for readers whether we’re aware of it or not. While first person narrative gives the story a tighter grip on the main character, third person offers a more story-telling tone. But let’s dig deeper…
First person narrative is used often in thrillers and young adult novels so readers can feel a deeper connection with the main character (MC). This style of POV reads as though the MC is speaking his thoughts, though it can be written in present tense or past tense. I’ll share an example from John Green’s young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars, “I woke up in the ICU. I could tell I was in ICU because I didn’t have my own room…”
Notice how that quote is written as if coming straight from the mind of the MC and being told as though it happened in the past by using past tense verbs. This narration style is used frequently when authors strive for their audiences to experience a more intense relationship with the book and the characters within, and past tense is included to give a more nostalgic tone. Here’s an example of first person, present tense in Gayle Forman’s If I Stay: “I can feel them praying. Which also makes me think I’m dead…And I’m not crying either, even though I know that something unthinkable has happened to my family.” This tense is used by authors who want to convey a story that’s more action-packed with an in-the-moment feel.
Third person narrative is a regularly used POV, especially in literary fiction, using pronouns like “he,” “she,” and “they,” opposite of first person’s pronouns like “I,” “myself,” “me,” etc. However, there are two types of third person POV––omniscient and the more common past tense. Third person omniscient is rather flexible for writers in that this POV is all-knowing of numerous characters in the story, following more than just one character. This omniscient style allows readers to be aware of what is happening in each of the character’s lives, permitting the author to “head-hop” from one person to the other.
Editors note: Take care when hopping from one character to another while using omniscient point of view--if not crafted with much care, this approach may confuse readers.
Third person past tense follows only one character, similarly to first person, though the story is told from the author’s point of view, saying things like, “He walked to the store,” or “She helped the man up, and then she pushed him back in his chair.” Most genres in commercial fiction such as thrillers or young adult pieces are written in first person narrative. Literary fiction is most often seen in third person. Some examples of this are Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, and The Scarlet Letter.
Overall, each of these POVs is fun to work with, so before you take on your first draft, do a little research and find which narration style works best for you!
Now for the Adverbs
Watch out, avid writers, because we’ve all come across adverbs in dialogue tags like this one: “‘I love you,’ she said sweetly.” Now let’s try, “‘I love you.’ She touched his cheek and rubbed the tip of her nose on his.” Notice how readers can interpret that the dialogue was said sweetly due to the actions that followed.
Editors often warn against adverbs in dialogue tags because adverbs are known to tell action instead of show it. But how come we see adverbs so much in bestselling novels? Many times, authors with a high platform can get away with including these risky techniques in their writing because publishers want the authors’ exposure.
But the cornerstone to good writing is using exciting verbs that help the reader see the action rather than taking the easy way out by using adverbs. The best way around adverbs is to step back, imagine what action you’re trying to convey, and search out your best verb for that description.
So once you’ve nailed your POV and started writing, choose your words carefully! They just might land you on the bestseller list…
Macy Cochran is a freelance editor and writer for the Tryon Daily Bulletin. Learn more about how to work with Macy on her website at ElegantEditingServices.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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"An excellent Western and one I would recommend to any reader even if this wasn't their usual fare."
This book just kept getting better as I read along. I can't rate or recommend this story highly enough! I had a blast reading it and, after it was over I found myself wanting more. Elno's plotting and pacing were skillful and talented. I never felt lost in the narration or like I wanted the story to hurry along at any point. William's quest to find and kill Jesse (in what some might call a gentleman's death match) encompasses the main premise of the book but it never dominated it, and I loved getting to know the side characters and their stories just as much as I loved getting to know William.
-Bookgirl 86, Goodreads Reviewer
I love a good Western, and this was a great one . . . I was instantly transported into William’s world. A world of gunfights, horses and lawlessness. Where a man’s word is his only currency and debts are expected to be paid in full—even if it means paying with your life.
-Bob D. guest review Teddy Rose Book Review Plus More
"Elno's writing was so strong and evocative and so pretty while also carrying what I consider to be the hallmarks of a great Western."
William was a main character that I sympathized with heavily. He had suffered a great deal but still had a strong moral center; an aspect that I thought was a really telling and enjoyable character trait. I love to see my heroes being actual heroes . . . The terse dialog, the gorgeous descriptions of barren and dry scenery, the thrilling action scenes, all of it was present and accounted for. And, as a reader, I felt like I wanted for nothing. Elno definitely nailed the setting and genre. I ate this book right up, reading it in only a few hours and now I can't wait for the next in the series!
-Betty Bee, Toot's Book Reviews
Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance, by Robin Elno, is a good-old fashioned western novel, with some twists. The main character, Clown William, a gunslinger, is on a vengeance hunt for Jesse Evans, for killing an associate. In some ways it reads like a Louis L' Amour novel, and I am big fan of L' Amour - who generally depicts his characters as having a strong sense of integrity, courageous and obstinate to a fault, and yet, who usually labor under the weight of other issues.
-Real Laplaine, Amazon author of Dead but Not Gone and Twilight Visitor
The Clown William novels by Robin Elno are a fantastic guilty pleasure. Part Western/part Thriller, the writing is tight, compelling, dramatic and at times even amusing and romantic. William is an excellent, complex character. He is a man who suffers from Tourette syndrome and, therefore, creates a very interesting and varied character . . .If this is an example of Robin Elno’s Westerns, color me intrigued. Without spoiling the ending of the book, I can’t wait to find out what happens next! This one should definitely be added to your ‘to read’ list, asap.
-Sol A. Bound 4 Escape Book Reviews
The book, Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance, as the title suggests, illustrates William’s change of mind in seeking revenge. The best part about this book is how the author has chosen to explore the dilemma of a character, making the plot of the book more complex and interesting . . . This is not like a typical Western historical book where the protagonist seeks revenge and kills the antagonist. How the author chose to explore the character made the book interesting as I think that we all have dilemmas and struggles in our lives as well. A 4 star for this book.
-Jas, International Book Promotion
“Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance” is a breath of fresh air."
Robin Elno has taken a genre that sometimes seems as dusty and worn down as the Old West itself and turned it around with a unique protagonist, some inventive plot threads, and a healthy dose of actual history. Moreover, it’s often an unpredictable book, as I found myself guessing how William would get out of some of the trouble that he found himself in. I’m ready to saddle up with William to wherever the trail takes him (and the author) next.
-Steve, Silver Screen Videos, 4-star Amazon review
For all who enjoy tales of the "wild West", this will surely become a favorite series. It is about a time when only the vilest men lacked in strong principles and when one's word was one's life. This is a great story, based on facts, to entertain YA and adults, as well. The characters are very believable and well-portrayed. The events are well described and the reader can easily visualize them. The story steadily flows in a smooth manner and action is "just around the next corner". I offer a Five Stars rating!
-LAWonder 10, Rockin' Book Reviews
-Gud Readers review, Goodreads
You can follow Robin's Tour Schedule and enter a giveaway at Virtual Author Book Tours.
.A gunfighter with Tourette’s and a quick draw . . . Book three in the award-winning Clown William series finds William on the run. William blames Jesse Evans for starting this violent life and wants to pay him back, but first he must stop the bounty hunters on his trail and defeat his own internal tornado—before becoming a victim.
Robin Elno is a retired army colonel, semiretired psychiatrist, and full-time author. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, where he is an active member of the San Antonio Writers' Guild. Elno’s Clown William series was inspired by the work of neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote about the unusual speed and accuracy often displayed by people with Tourette’s syndrome. Intrigued by the idea that strengths can rise from differences, Elno created the unique and compelling character of William. Elno’s novels are often set against true historical backdrops like the Wild West.
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