January 7, 2019

Lisa Hall-Wilson

There’s a pretty basic storytelling flaw that trips up many writers and that’s creating villains/antagonists who aren’t successful. Let’s define what I mean by successful. A successful antagonist moves the story ahead, directly challenges the protagonist, and has a better than 50% chance of success. Without a powerful antagonist, your protagonist has nothing substantial to fight against—there’s little reason to cheer for them.

3 Pillars for a Successful Antagonist

  • Does the antagonist/villain directly oppose your protagonist’s main plot goal?
  • Does the antagonist/villain have a head start?
  • Are there aspects of the villain/antagonist we agree with or can even love?

4 Ways to Make Your Antagonist Menacing

Backstory – Your antagonist needs a past and a history. Evil is grown not born. Even if it never comes out in the story, YOU need to know what made them like this.

Justified – Your antagonist is the hero of their own story and can rationally justify their thoughts and actions. Their actions and motivations are not random or nonsensical.

A Moral Code – Your antagonist can’t be completely bad all the time. Let them rescue kittens, love their moms, never break their word, whatever. Some antagonists have a moral framework they restrict themselves to—they only kidnap and murder men who abuse children, for instance. Other people can fall in love with the antagonist. Anyone can fall in love, but is there something in your antagonist worth loving?

Heighten Tension – I recently binged all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones (the last season has been out for over a year now—so there are spoilers ahead). You know what this TV show does really really well? George Martin has crafted some serious underdogs and overwhelming villains and antagonists. It’s an epic, so there are several protagonists and antagonists.

The Lannisters rule everything pretty much, they are fairly formidable, right. They’re already the richest family and in political power when our story opens—and they have a future game plan for longevity. There’s a steady stream of good guys to cheer for and many of them die trying to defeat the Lannisters. As the series progressed, we see the Lannister power base dwindle, die off, get scattered—loyalties are tested and broken.

But just as we begin to yawn because the chink in the Lannister armor is too big to compensate for, the antagonist who’s lurked in the background for several seasons suddenly emerges and forces the board to rearrange itself. So, the protag team begins season 7 with the numbers to defeat the Lannisters, new allies, and three dragons. By the end of the season, their allies are dwindled and they’re down a dragon. What happened to the third dragon? The white walkers have turned it into a zombie dragon and it fights for them now. BOOM! The board always remains in the favor of the bad guys—the pieces on the board rearrange themselves according to the actions of the antagonist.

If there’s no struggle, if the threat of loss for the main character isn’t imminent and devastating, there’s no underdog to cheer for.

The Problem with Protags who Start Strong

Remember that however strong you make your hero/protagonist, your antagonist needs to be bigger, badder, more threatening, etc.  

Superman is a fabulous hero, but his only weaknesses are kryptonite and his love for Lois. My son argues that Zod is a convincing threat (yes, my 16yo son talks plot and story arc with me if it involves superheroes or comic book movies), but in the first Justice League movie, the bad guys don’t show up until the Kyrptonian leaves and when Superman returns it’s game over. Even the bad guys know it’s over at that point.

You need a villain who’s more powerful, influential, smarter, etc. than your protagonist. The antagonist needs a head start on their evil plans.

Look at Daredevil and Wilson Fisk. Fisk has already got a criminal enterprise and a grand plan before Daredevil ever emerges in Hell’s Kitchen. Fisk has the money, the corrupt cops, the alliances, the influence, the larger-than-life persona to win it all and he very nearly does.

Look at Thanos (at least, what we know of him so far). Infinity War begins with Thanos having defeated the most powerful of the Avengers—Hulk. Thanos has a plan that was begun long long ago. The audience is primed already to know who he is, what he’s about, and how much closer he gets to his goal with each movie. And when Gamora believes she’s killed Thanos, she weeps despite the fact that she hates him.

“As an antagonist, Thanos surprises us with his many 'good' qualities, including his patience, his dignity, his compassion, and the 'philanthropic' motives behind so evil a mission as wiping out half the universe.” – K.M. Weiland

Be Sure You Have an Antagonist and Not Just a Story Obstacle

Sometimes things can get really muddled in story land, and as the writer it's hard to know exactly who or what is the main antagonist. Flip to the beginning of your story. What's the inciting incident? Whatever problem is caused by the inciting incident is the main story problem and whatever is causing or in opposition to the main story problem is the antagonist—generally.

A man is marooned on a mountain in a snow storm. What’s his main story goal? If his main story goal is to survive and get off the mountain, the snow storm (nature) could be a valid antagonist. If his main story goal is to survive the storm, get off the mountain, and kill the person who left him stranded on the mountain, then the snow storm (nature) is merely an obstacle to his goal. Do you see the difference?

An antagonist actively works to prevent the protagonist from reaching their main story goal.

The Difference between a Villain and an Antagonist

The antagonist is the source of the opposing plot movement, and they get to win quite a bit right up until the end of your story. The antagonist is a role. The villain is any character who opposes your protagonist. (Consider Disney’s The Lion King. Scar is the antagonist and the hyenas Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are villains. The hyenas oppose Simba but don’t move the plot ahead. Do you see the difference?)

This construction happens in genres like romance a lot. In romance, often you have a hero and heroine who are at odds but must end up together. The antagonist must lose so neither the hero or heroine can serve that role. Instead, there are obstacles to the hero and heroine getting together, so who/what is the antagonist?

In Patricia Brigg’s novel Cry Wolf the main story problem is that Charles knows Anna is fated to be his mate, but she’s terrified of him. It doesn’t really matter what force is keeping your hero and heroine apart—that force becomes the antagonist, but there’s often an ancillary story problem that can have a villain.

Anna’s suffered past abuse and that experience and fear is what keeps her from committing to Charles. There’s a witch trying to kill Charles and his father, and Anna is central to the solution to the witch problem, but the witch isn’t the antagonist. The witch is the villain, but the witch doesn’t directly oppose the main story problem—the witch isn’t preventing Charles and Anna from getting together. Anna’s fear and anxiety are the main antagonists—this is the main story problem that must be overcome, the witch is a story obstacle.

So, for the story to have a satisfying ending, Charles and Anna must defeat both the witch AND Anna’s fear.

Is there an antagonist or villain that you love to hate? I think Loki definitely makes my top 5. Who’s your favorite antagonist or villain?

You can get a copy of my book Method Acting For Writers: Learn Deep Point of View Using Emotional Layers here.

About Lisa

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Lisa Hall-Wilson was a national award-winning freelance journalist and author who loves mentoring writers. Fascinated by history, fantasy, romance, and faith, Lisa blends those passions into historical and historical-fantasy novels.

Find Lisa’s blog, Beyond Basics for intermediate writers,  at www.lisahallwilson.com.

January 4, 2019

Janice Hardy

With the new year upon us, a lot of writers are making resolutions to join critique groups to take the next step with their manuscripts and ask for feedback—some for the very first time (and kudos for those on this path).

In the rush to get that feedback, however, we don’t always take the time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the people we’re asking to critique our writing. Sometimes, that leads to feedback that hurts our novels instead of helping them. The newer a writer is to the critique process, the more damaging a “bad crit” can be, so it’s good to know a little bit about who’s reading our work. Because really…

What do you know about the people critiquing your manuscript?

We’ve all heard the horror stories about bad critique groups and brutal critiques, but there are far more good tales of helpful writers than bad. But the smart writer knows what they’re getting into—or at least tries to. Sometimes those bad critiquers sneak in even when we’re vigilant.

Despite this scary-sounding warning, I’m very pro-critique group, and encourage writers to find others to help them. It’s a great way to learn and improve no matter what stage of your writing career you’re at. None of the below questions are set in stone either—they’re just things to think about to help a writer evaluate feedback and critique partners so everyone gets what they need.

Here are a few questions to ask before you dive in:

1. How much experience does the critiquer or reader have?

Someone new to the process doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t do a good job, but they might not know what’s expected of them. It’s not a bad idea to discuss what the group is looking for so everyone gets the feedback they want. For example, someone might think critiquing means:

  • Only checking for typos and grammar
  • Doing essentially a book review
  • Explaining how they would have written it

If this is the type of critique you’re after, that’s fine, but if you expect something different, getting less than you wanted can lead to disappointment and frustration on both sides.

2. Does the critiquer or reader read or write the same genre as you?

Although not necessary, it’s helpful to get feedback from someone who is familiar with the genre and all its expectations. There are rules and tropes for every genre, and someone who doesn’t read that genre won’t know what’s common, clichéd, or required. For example, someone might:

  • Give feedback that suits their chosen genre, not yours
  • Suggest changes that remove or lessen the genre aspects readers will expect
  • Frequently be confused by things a regular reader of that genre would understand
  • Suggest things that the genre readers have seen over and over, but are new to that reader

It can be quite useful to see how someone new to your genre sees the story, but it can also make a difference in the feedback. If you know that going in, you won’t be blindsided by out-of-the-blue comments and weird suggestions.  

3. What stage of the critiquer’s writing journey are they at?

If you’re looking for someone at a particular level, this matters. But I’ve also met newbie writers who were amazing critiquers and professional authors who did terrible critiques, so again, there are no absolutes with writing. But if you’re at the “revise and resubmit” stage, someone who hasn’t yet finished their first novel might not have learned enough to help you reach the professional level prose you’re after. And if you’re just starting out, someone with advanced knowledge can expect you to know more than you do and not give you detailed enough feedback to help you fix what’s wrong. For example:

  • New writers might not feel they have the right to critique a more experienced writer and hold back their comments or suggestions 
  • Established writers might forget what it was like starting out and be too harsh—or suggest things far above the new writer’s skill or comprehension level
  • Writers in the middle might be caught up in the rules and overlooking the story aspect (and vice versa)

Having critique partners both a little ahead and behind your skill level makes for a nice balance. The more experienced writers can help you improve, and the the less experienced writers help you understand your own writing better as you help them improve. You learn a lot when you have to explain a technique or aspect of writing to someone.

Of course, even the seemingly well-suited critique partners can be a bad match. Not all critiquers have the same skills or objectives, and “bad crits” can happen at any time.

Some things to consider when you get a bad or miss-the-mark critique:

1. Is the critiquer trying to help you develop the story you want to write?

Some critiquers can get overzealous about an idea and all their feedback pushes the story how they’d write it. While this can lead to ideas you never would have thought of on your own, it can also waylay your story and make it something it doesn’t want to be. This can be particularly dangerous if it’s an established writer or someone whose work you admire—you might go against your own instincts and follow their lead.

Don’t forget—sometimes great advice is wrong for the story you want to tell.

2. Is the critiquer more interested in writing rules than writing a story?

I think we all go through a stage where we get “rule focused” and feel if we follow them exactly all will be well. Eventually we grow past that, but sometimes you get the critiquer who has clearly read every book on writing out there—and feels every rule must be adhered to above all else. The slightest variation from a rule gets noted, even if there’s nothing wrong with the writing, or worse, the “broken rule” is done on purpose for positive effect.

3. Is the critiquer just interested in tearing you down?

There are critiquers out there who would rather rip your work apart to make themselves feel better than try to help you. They attack the writer, not the work, and view writing as a contact sport. It’s not you, it’s them, so don’t let their comments hurt you or your confidence. When you run into these folks, run fast and far and don’t look back.

4. Is the critiquer just interested in praising every word?

On the flip side, some critiquers love everything they read and have nothing constructive to say. While this is great for the ego, it’s not helpful when you’re trying to improve your skills or your novel, especially when you know you have weak areas that need work.

5. Is the critiquer just not your reader?

Not every book is for every reader—just look at the one-star reviews for books you love. And not every critiquer has enough experience or self-awareness to know the difference between a bad book and a not-for-them book.

When getting feedback from critique partners and beta readers, take all of it seriously, but understand where that feedback could be coming from when something seems amiss. It’s possible it’s not an issue with the manuscript but a miss-match between critique styles, skill, or expectations.

Just don’t let that be an excuse to ignore feedback you don’t like (grin).

A heads up if you’re looking for a critique group or partner: I’ve just opened for the Winter 2019 session of Janice Hardy’s Critique Connection Yahoo Group. It’s a private group for writers to find each other and form groups and partnerships.

How well do you know your critique partners? Have you ever gotten feedback you used even though you had doubts about its validity?

Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, including The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She also writes the Grace Harper series for adults under the name, J.T. Hardy. When she's not writing fiction, she runs the popular writing site Fiction University, and has written multiple books on writing, including Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It), Plotting Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, and the Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft series.

January 2, 2019

by Fae Rowen

To say that social media is not my strong suit is a lie. I'm not playing with a full deck; the social media suit is missing. And I don't care.

I prefer to call someone rather than text them. Why? Because I want to hear the pitch, the inflection, the tone of their voice.

As writers, that's what we do for our readers. We give them the subtleties of human interaction. And I want that in my everyday life. I want to live life, not check a little screen.

I know that we need to "put ourselves out there" for our readers. Readers want to know about their favorite writers and their lives. But where does that desire to know personal facts, private likes and dislikes cross the line?

As a person who would rather not be recognized, would rather not share the details of my daily life, I am not going to share that I'm traveling to Bucket List #42 destination next week then on to take a week-long class from the world's leading chocolatier in Paris. What if I walk into a hornet's nest on vacation or give myself food poisoning in my cooking class? I'll admit that to my closest friends, but expose my personal foibles to the world on a format that will last longer than my bones?

If you've been reading my posts for any length of time, you know that I don't paint a rosy picture of my life. I share what I believe to be appropriate to share, given why I'm communicating. My readers deserve to know when the next book in the series will be available. They deserve to know when I fall behind, and maybe a bit of the reason I'm not on time. Tidbits about how a character came to life or how I got a plot idea—those are fair game for "the public." The time I was afraid I would become an international incident is not.

Missing a production deadline happened to me for the first time in 2018. I'm not going to detail all the drama behind the deadline failures, though I have no problem sharing the new and improved production schedule, along with my apologies.

What does this mean? I'm willing to share pictures from my day or my trips—after I've returned. I'm willing to comment about my rescue cat, because I know that if I hadn't brought her home with me, she wouldn't be alive today. I share about writing, life lessons, the things that make me the writer I am today.

I wish I could be funny, or warm-and-fuzzy heart-warming, or find amazing pictures to post. Sometimes I wish I had the desire to spend hours instant messaging and responding immediately to likes and comments on my Facebook feed or Instagram account. But I don't have the time. Between writing and my daily schedule, I just don't have the time.

In the last five months of 2019, I'm looking at publishing three books. I've already talked to my publicist/marketer friend about ramping up the social presence during the spring. To me, that means I'll post a short story somewhere, check into my Instagram and Facebook accounts more than once a week, and schedule time to comment and share more.

Marketing myself and my books is not what I want to spend time doing, but then, I don't think that's why any of us are writers. I do, however, want my stories to be read. I want my ideas and my future societies to be thought about, talked about. And to do that, I have to make people aware of them. So I will use social media, because it is an amazing marketing tool for the average person like me.

Who knows? Maybe after a handful of years of more involvement with social media, I'll tolerate it better. After all, ten years ago I didn't enjoy posting on Writers in the Storm much. Who am I kidding? I felt like Joan of Arc being dragged to the fire. But now, I enjoy reading your comments to articles and your responses to other readers' comments. And I enjoy writing back with my own comments. I feel like I personally know many of you from your sharing. And surprising as it is for this introvert to admit, I treasure the community we've built.

Is dealing with social media like a trip to the dentist? Would you rather sit in a math class than sit down to an hour of social media interaction?


Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules. P.R.I.S.M., Fae's debut book, a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, and love is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

December 31, 2018

Our Writers in the Storm team chose single guiding words in 2016, and 2017, 2018. Here are our words for 2019.

Fae Rowen

My word for 2019: Plan

2018 slipped away from me. All the projects I'd planned to complete, didn't get done. I didn't "fritter away" my time, I just found other things to do. Things that seemed to matter as much as my writing. I was wrong.

I've never been a proponent of New Year's resolutions. Or goals. Or lists. But I do play chess. In fact, my mother used to talk about how she argued with my father to let me win an occassional game because I cried real tears when I got frustrated with years of loss. My father, a really good player, didn't relent. And now, I thank him for that. He taught me perseverance, attention to detail, and how to plan many steps ahead.

So I'm looking at 2019 like a chess game. Life will make surprise moves. I'll have to counter them and adjust my game plan. I've already made loose "open" plans that give me choices to complete for short term (daily), mid-term (several days), or long term (one-to-two weeks). I've tried out my opening moves for the past couple of days and they worked. Better yet, I feel good about them and what I accomplished.

Horror of horrors, I'm even considering making a list. On paper. I've heard checking it off is quite the dose of positive reinforcement.

Jenny Hansen

My word for 2019: Bravery

Be brave, my friends.

Be brave in your writing. Don't worry about who will read it, or what your mother/brother/co-worker will say. This book of yours is written for an audience of one during the first draft. The next draft can work out any kinks. But if you aren't happy with your book, you will never be brave enough to send it out into the world.

Be brave in your submitting. I have promised two of my books to two people I admire, and they go to them early this year. It's a big deal for me to submit anything, but I shall be brave. 🙂

Julie Glover

My word for 2019: Marketing

I know, I know. How could I possibly choose such an unsexy word as marketing to guide my next year of writing! Well, here's the thing: I hate marketing. Or have hated marketing — as in I was the little girl who, tasked with selling fundraising items, did everything she could to avoid selling to anyone who wasn't blood-related and thus beholden to me. Knocking on doors and asking people to buy stuff? You might as well have asked me to be a live voodoo doll and get poked with a hundred pins.

But while I can be a writer without ever marketing, I cannot be a career writer without getting far more comfortable with sales. I've taken steps in that direction, but it's time to embrace the whole experience and get on board with marketing myself and my stories. After all, I believe in the product! So 2019 will involve me learning and practicing marketing approaches to reach potential readers, while remaining true to my desire not to pummel people with sales pitches. Plenty of authors pull that off, so I know it can be done.

Laura Drake

My word for 2019: Enjoy

My first book came out in 2013. 5 years later, I have 10 books out. I'm proud and thankful. But I'm also approaching burnout. I want to recapture the joy of writing just for myself, even as I'm writing for others. While I still have deadlines.

Yeah, impossible goals - they're my superpower. (Making them, not necessarily achieving them).

Now we want to hear from you! What one word will guide your writing life in 2019?

December 28, 2018

Laura Drake

I chose this month's submission to help explain how to show a tense scene from within the character, instead of telling - as if we're watching a movie. This scene has the potential to be edge-of-your-seat stuff, but it has several problems.
Thank you, brave soul, for trusting me with your work. I hope you find this helpful.
Here we go:
My edits:
Black = original
Red = my thoughts/comments
Purple = text I added/altered


Tobias Baker drew his fingertips across eyelids that longed for rest while descending in the elevator. He celebrated his tenth anniversary working for the Palmer accounting firm three months ago. His job presented him with endless paperwork during tax season. He lumbered out of the building and over to a kiosk outside of the parking garage. Raychel, his six-year-old daughter, would be expecting a treat, candy or gum. The vendor had gray hair, a toothless smile, and tissue paper wrinkles on weathered brown skin. He was dressed in his customary pair of green coveralls worn thin around the knees. Tobias’ eyes roamed the selection of goodies and landed on a pink package of bubble gum

A rustling noise inside the entrance to the garage caught his attention. Two boys, not more than fifteen, fidgeted in the shadows. He paid for the gum and stuffed it into his shirt pocket. The boys ducked a little deeper inside keeping an eye on him as he approached the garage entrance.

“Hey man,”one of them yelled.

Tobias stopped beside his car. Intuition told him this would not be a good situation.The boys swarmed in on him. One of them was smaller than the other and looked to be younger. His complexion was darker, wore short braids with red beads woven in, and stood slightly behind the taller older boy. Their eyes roamed the room like a puppy cornered in an ally and their bodies twitched and shifted from side to side. The smaller boy repeatedly looked over his shoulder,watching for someone or something. The older boy looked down at his feet and shoved his hands in his pockets.

“You got any money, man? We haven’t eaten in a while. Just enough for a burger or something.” His voice was weak, slightly louder than a whisper.

Tobias, a tall man, leaned forward and reached into his back pocket for his wallet.

 “Sure. I can help you out.”

 “We hadn’t eaten all day. Man, we’re hungry,” said the younger boy becoming increasingly agitated.

Many people in the community needed money these days. Poverty had become a common problem since the big auto industry moved out several years ago. The older boy leaned in close to Tobias. His warm breath wafted across his face.

“You know...”

The boy reached deep into the pocket of his soiled hoodie. He fumbled with something then shoved it up against Tobias’ chest. Pop! Pop! Tobias could smell the discharge from the gun. His chest burned. Blood pumps rhythmically from two holes directly above his heart.

Do you see how the POV shifts - from within the main character, to almost an omniscient (narrator POV?) I'll point out where in my edits. 


The elevator descended. Tobias Baker drew his fingertips across eyelids that longed for rest while descending in the elevator. He celebrated his tenth anniversary working for the Palmer accounting firm three months ago. Don't slow the critical beginning with details we don't need.His job presented him with endless paperwork during tax season. He lumbered out of the building and stopped at over to  a kiosk outside of the parking garage. Raychel, his six-year-old daughter, would be expecting a treat, maybe candy or gum. You tell us what he buys, farther down. We can tell by the context she's young. We don't need to know exactly how old yet. The vendor had gray hair, a toothless smile, and tissue paper wrinkles on weathered brown skin.Great description! He was dressed in his customary pair of green coveralls worn thin around the knees. Tobias’ eyes roamed scanned the selection of goodies and landed decided on a pink package of bubble gum.

You only want to sketch bare bones in the beginning - enough to anchor the reader in time, place, and character. Then jump to the tension - that will build reader empathy, and peak interest.

A rustling noise inside the entrance to the garage caught his attention. Two teenage boys, not more than fifteen, fidgeted in the shadows. He paid for the gum, and stuffed it into his shirt pocket, and walked toward the garage entrance. The boys ducked a littledeeper inside inside what? the building? the shadows? keeping an eye on him as he approached the garage entrS

            “Hey man,” one of them yelled.

            Tobias stopped beside his car, senses on alertSee how this shows, instead of telling? Intuition told him this would not be a good situation. The boys swarmed in on him. 'Swarmed sounds menacing to me. What does HE think? A taller, older boy stood in front of a darker one with red beads woven in his hair. One of them was smaller than the other and lookedto be younger. His complexion was darker, wore short braids with red beadswoven in, and stood slightly behind the taller older boy. more important than all this - what expressions are they wearing? Open and sincere? menacing? Their eyes roamed theroom like a puppy cornered in an ally I wouldn't use 'puppy' to describe them - he knows they're a threat. Their bodies twitched, and shifting ed from side to side. The smaller boy repeatedly looked shot looks over his shoulder,watching for someone or something. we know. The older boy looked down at his feet and shoved his hands in his pockets.

            “You got any money, man? We haven’t eaten in a while. Just enough for a burger or something...we haven't eaten in a while.” His voice was weak, only slightly louder than a whisper.

            Tobias, a tall man, leaned forward and reached into his back pocket for his wallet.  Okay, I have several problems with this. telling us he's a tall man isn't his thought. So you've shifted out of third person POV to omniscient - a narrator's voice. But even more important - what is Tobias feeling?  Because he recognized the threat earlier. WHY would he take his wallet out now? Isn't he the least bit concerned? I'd think Van Diesel would be wary in this situation! If you want the reader to follow your character, you have to build a solid basis for why he'd do something so stupid. Was he homeless or hungry as a kid? Does he donate time to work with the homeless? See what I mean?

            “Sure. I can help you out.”

            “We hadn’teaten all day. Man, we’re hungry,” This is all a repeat. I'd have him say something else. said the younger boy becoming increasingly agitated. Instead of telling us he's agitated show us. He's on drugs, right?

            Many people in the community needed money these days. Poverty had become a common problem since the big auto industry moved out several years ago. This is preachy, and not what I'd think he'd be thinking right now. If he has reason NOT to be afraid, explain it here. The older boy leaned in close To Tobias. His warm breath wafting across Tobias' face.

            “You know...” Who says, this, and why? There's not enough here for us to guess.

            The boy reached deep into the pocket of his soiled hoodie. He fumbled with something then shoved it up against Tobias’ chest. Pop! Pop! Tobias could smell the discharge from the gun. His chest burned. Blood pumps rhythmically from two holes directly above his heart.   Okay, if he was shot twice in the heart, he'd be dead almost immediately. No time to smell the discharge. Instead of telling us - put yourself in his situation - what would you feel/see? I'll try to show you:

Pop! Pop! 

His chest exploded in blood-tinged agony. His legs dissolved and his head cracked the concrete. Black spots swarmed from the corners of his vision and the face rimmed with red beads faded...to nothing. 

Okay, that's not good, but see how it's a closer POV?

A witness standing between the kiosk and garage watched the scene unfold and told the police, “The boy didn’t hesitate. Pulled the gun, shot twice. Right in the center of that man’s chest. This is an abrupt, jerky shift of POV - and not even into the bystander, really. And it's repetitious - it doesn't tell us anything new.  I'd end the scene at the high point - Tobias dying. 

What do you think?

Do you ever have problems staying anchored in POV?

Laura's December release, The Last True Cowboy, was chosen by Amazon's Editorial Board as one of the Best Books of the Month!