I’ve been thinking a lot lately. About a number of things. Whether or not I’m selected for Pitch Wars, I plan on gaining my writerly following on this here website. So, it seems as good a time as any to write about something BESIDES the contest. Which brings me to the topic of this post: perspective.

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The other day, an editor and I were discussing Gregory Maguire, specifically his novel Wicked. If by some chance you live under a rock or just aren’t familiar with Broadway, let me give you a brief run down on how the novel which inspired this wickedly famous musical came to be. (Did you see what I did there? *wink*)

Mr. Maguire, a children’s author, had been wondering about the wicked witch. His exact words were: “Everyone else in Oz had a longing: For a heart, for a brain, for courage, for a way home. Surely the Wicked Witch of the West wanted something other than shoes.”

So with that question in mind, and some of the “strange tics” and other info from the original story, he set to penning the witch’s version of what really went down before Dorothy dropped in. His only goal was to prove that, despite some missteps along the way, the witch was NOT inherently evil.

(In case you didn’t know this either, the witch’s name, Elphaba, is a play on L. Frank Baum’s initials. L- F- B: Elphaba.)

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Wicked (and a slew of sequels) was the result and ended up being his first manuscript for adults. If you haven’t read it,you should. But be warned: sex and politics are rampant, which is what I was telling this editor friend. However, the reason I enjoyed the book so much, was because it taught me about perspective.

How different would any number of novels be if written from the perspective of a different character?

What if, instead of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it was Tom Riddle and the Muggle Orphanage?

Or instead of Peter Pan, we saw Neverland through Hook’s eyes? (Mentor Brianna Shrum has beaten me to this, actually. I am both jealous and excited to read this! The link to her book on good reads is here:

Most importantly, who would we be rooting for if Jurassic World was told from the perspective of a caged, hungry dinosaur that was only desperate for freedom? Of course, this one is a joke. (Or is it?) But you see what I’m getting at.

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Wicked taught me that even my “villains” need to be compelling. They have to believe in their cause. They have to believe in it SO MUCH, that if I told the story from their perspective, I would be compelled to believe in it too. And much like what happens when you read/watch Wicked, if done well, once you see their side, the villain/antagonist becomes an anti-hero/protagonist/failed hero.

And it shouldn’t stop at our main characters, good or bad. Every character we write needs to have his/her own motivations and stakes. I truly believe that making sure we do this when adding new characters will eliminate any stereotypical/filler characters. If you’re looking at your ensemble and saying, “Well, he’s the comic relief and she’s the brat, etc.” but you can’t tell me WHY they’re like that, or WHAT they want, then ask yourself: Have you created a character or a stereotype?

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Despite knowing this, I’m still having trouble mastering it. I can think of two characters in my “completed” MS and at least one in my WIP that aren’t very well fleshed out; I’m looking at you Groupie, Friend of Groupie, and Jock. (And no, those aren’t their actual names.) So if you’re sorting through your characters right now and wanting to bang your head against the wall, just don’t. Because you’re in good company. Every character has to start somewhere. And as long as you’re consciously working to make each character feel real and believable, you’ll get there at one draft or another.

Now that we’re thinking about it though, let’s make it goal. Go through each character and ask yourself what they want, what’s in their way, and what will they do to get it. If you find some of them lacking, see if you can cut them and absolve his/her lines into another character. Or if you hate to remove characters, then see if you can flesh them out and make them more integral to the story. (Keep in mind, we do have to kill our darlings sometimes…) I’m betting the result will be a tighter, stronger story, along with some gained perspective.

As a reminder: I think it was mentor Nikki Roberti, who quoted her husband saying, “The world doesn’t always have to explode.” Meaning, the stakes don’t have to be monumental to be stakes. Yes, when dealing with main characters in SFF they tend to be monumental (Insert Brooding Young Adult Hero joke here), but any kind of dilemma — especially things readers can relate to— will be just fine. My point is, don’t feel like every character has to be overwhelmed with massive responsibility to be authentic.

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A final thought:

George Eliot once said, “It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” I know that as writers, we have boundless imaginations and very open minds. We can do this, friends.

Sound off in the comments: What’s your favorite quote about perspective? Or, what book would you like to see written from a different POV?

Pitch Wars Mentee Hopeful BIO (Otherwise known as my first writer blog post)

Hello there Mentors and other Mentee Hopefuls!

Everyone was jumping on the Bio band wagon and I, being a distant relative to lemmings, decided I’d better jump on too. So for your getting to know me pleasure, I have decided to fill out a two-part questionnaire. I’m going to warn you up front: I CANNOT make GIFs, so until that happens y’all are gonna have to use your imaginations. (Given that we’re all authors, I doubt this will be a challenge.) And I’m a Disneyphile. This is just something people should know up front, so they’re not surprised when I bring up random Disney trivia. (Fun Fact #1: You might be a Disneyphile if you measure your children in terms of height requirements. EX: Yay, you’re Space Mountain tall!)

This is me, by the way. Legally, my name is Jamie, but all my close friends call me Jymie (pronounced Jimmy). And yes… my eyelashes are fake. (Fun Fact #2: I’m a part-time eyelash extension technician.) The MS I’m submitting to Pitch Wars is a YA Historical Fantasy. (Now, as a mentor you know if you want to/need to keep reading. As a fellow hopeful, you can probably guess if we’ve subbed to the same mentors.)


And I said as much on Twitter already, but if I am chosen as a Mentee, my nickname will be Fix-It Felix. Why? “I can fix it!” (Just think of it as my revision motto.)

Fix It Felix

Onto the Questionnaire!

Would you rather…

  1. Watch, Star Wars, or Star Trek? STAR WARS, but do I love me some Spock? Yes, I do.
  2. Read on a Kindle or paperback book? Paperback.
  3. Go to a play or musical? MUSICAL! (Fun Fact #3: I was lucky to play a handful of iconic roles back in my Theater days: Rizzo in Grease, Lucy in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, & The Cat in HONK! And for those of you familiar with HONK! the answer is yes, that is the second male lead, but I beat out the boys! It was proud day.)
  4. Go to the theater or a movie? Depends on what’s playing/ who’s in the cast. Usually movie, only because it’s closer and cheaper.
  5. Hike or bike? HIKE.
  6. Wear jeans or chinos? JEANS. (Honestly, I don’t even know what chinos are.)
  7. Have a Margarita or Pina Colada? Er, Pina Colada so long as it’s virgin! (Fun Fact #4: I don’t drink, so yes; I am zero fun at a bar. But you need a DD? I’m your gal.)
  8. Drink a glass of Guinness or Fat Tire? Neither, refer to Fun Fact #4. (Actually, I don’t drink coffee either, which I’m pretty sure makes me a unicorn among authors.)
  9. Crash with friends or stay in a hotel? HOTEL.
  10. Visit Europe or Mexico? EUROPE.
  11. Vacation in Hawaii or Alaska, and why? Oh, depends on the time of year! Winter here, Hawaii please! But an Alaskan cruise in the summer? Sign me up!
  12. Go skiing or snowshoeing? SKIING.
  13. Travel by plane, train, or automobile? For everyday use, automobile. For long distance, planes. For funsies, train.
  14. Enjoy a houseboat or speed boat? SPEED BOAT.
  15. Go climbing or zip lining? ZIP LINING.
  16. Go to a comedy club or dance club? DANCE CLUB! (Fun Fact #5: I’m an ex-ballerina! I even taught pointe when I was in college.)
  17. Have a night out or evening in? Evening in. As a practically single mother, this is my only choice, lol. But I do enjoy getting out now and then.
  18. Watch TV or read a book? BOOK. (We’re all laughing now, right? Is this even a question?)
  19. Go canoeing or waterskiing? CANOEING.
  20. Camp in an RV or stay in a tent? TENT. As long as I get S’Mores I can be happy anywhere.
  21. Use Facebook or Twitter? TWITTER.
  22. Choose a free trip or money? FREE TRIP!
  23. Win the lottery or find your perfect job? PERFECT JOB.
  24. Swim in a pool or the ocean? Either, depending on where I am. Although, I’d more just walk along the beach to be honest. I am deathly afraid of me/my kids/loved ones getting swept out to sea. (Fun Fact #5: I am a chronic worrier. Okay, maybe that’s not so fun, but my husband thinks it’s hilarious.)
  25. Travel by sailboat or cruise ship? CRUISE SHIP. (Bring on the buffet!)
  26. Watch sports or play sports? PLAY SPORTS.
  27. Play dodgeball or kickball? DODGEBALL.

Get to know someone new when you learn how they think:

  1. Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island? Tom Hanks from Castaway. Dude has survival skills! (I’d say Katniss but let’s face it: she’d kill me.)
  2. If you could do anything you wanted right now, what would it be? Meet the agent that will love my books as much as I do. (Someday!)
  3. If money was no object, what would you do all day? Same thing I do now: I am very blessed to be a stay-at-home mom.
  4. Where do you most want to travel, but have never been? Scotland. I’d love to go there and do the Adventures by Disney trip. You get to see the Brave castle and row a canoe across Lock Ness.
  5. What is your favorite memory? I have three; the first moment I saw each of my kids after they were born.
  6. Who is your favorite author? I’m torn between Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling!
  7. What is your favorite book? Oddly enough, it’s Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. (Why isn’t she my favorite author, you ask? Well, she’s JUST below Neil and J.K. because I’ve read more of their books.)
  8. What was your favorite activity in gym class? Running. (Fun Fact #6: I broke my arm in the 3rd grade doing a cartwheel. It was a “spoon fracture” which means I broke both bones clear through and my arm looked like an upside-down spoon. Spooky, I know. To this day I can’t do cartwheels.)
  9. What has been your biggest challenge? Self-doubt.
  10. What is your biggest success up until now? That I keep trying despite aforementioned self-doubt.
  11. What does your perfect day look like? Any day where I’m both productive and patient with my kids, mixed with fun and a dash of spontaneity is a perfect day in my book.
  12. University or life experience, which do you feel best prepares you for life? LIFE EXPERIENCE. Unless you’re going to be a doctor. Definitely go to college for that, lol. (Fun Fact #7: All twelve of my close friends’ husbands are in Med school. My husband is a Chemical Engineer.)
  13. What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isn’t already? Oh man… There’s so many ways I could answer this, but I’m going to have to plead the fifth here. (Fun Fact #8: I home school my kids. Why? A lot of reasons but mainly bullies. I have zero tolerance for bullying of ANY kind.)
  14. If you were to create a piece of art, what would the subject be? I already have! Books are art, and I write about whatever subject/idea/story that moves me. (Fun Fact #9: The MS I’m submitting to Pitch Wars is my 3rd completed manuscript.)
  15. What one thing would you change if you had to do it over? Nothing. I’d choose this life every time. Even my biggest mistakes have taught me a lot, so I wouldn’t trade them.
  16. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to? July 17th, 1955. I’d love to hear Walt dedicate Disneyland in person and be in the park that day. Sticky asphalt and sidewalks-to-nowhere included.
  17. What does your life say about you? Most people who see the way I live think I’m crazy. Maybe they’re right, but I’m happy.
  18. How would your friends describe you? Energetic, punctual, and occasionally funny.

Alright folks. I can’t imagine you want to know anything else, so I’ll say farewell and we’ll see; Am I the Mentee for you?