Our Sunday Best: The Mancala Hour


The pleasure of the game is that it requires a certain amount of thought and skill, but leaves the players enough free mental space to sit and have a leisurely conversation. Read on, Reader!

Our Sunday Best: Who Is Driving This Story, Anyway? POV in Writing

C.W.A.Scott Binoculars

I crave books I love the way I crave certain foods.   I will stop cold in the middle of a task during the day with a single line from a novel or poem written in fire over my head, and the craving is so strong that I know, before the day is out, I will have that book tucked open in my right hand as neatly, and as tightly as a well-made bed.

The moment that drives my ordinary reader’s desire into the swerve of a bibliophilic craving is the artistry of the writing itself. (There are stories, and there are stories, after all.) What keeps me turning pages is my fascination with the person (or persons) whose story is being told.

But who is telling the story?

I’m not talking about the writer/author, per se.

(We know s/he is telling the story— sometimes s/he tells us right in the middle of the story— disruptively— but we’ll get into the fiddly bits of postmodern literature in just a bit.)

What I’m trying to ask you here is who is the actual voice telling you the story?

POV, or point-of-view, is one of the most necessary structural details you need to consider as you prepare to write your own stories.

Because, for every story, there are a thousand, thousand ways to use POV as one of the pistons pulling the action and motivation and meaning along.

There are no shortcuts to figuring out the POV question to help you sort out the structural details of your story.   

What should be helpful is to know what your options are in the POV world.   (Some structural details of a novel are setting, plot, tense, time frame and so on. There are many architectural elements necessary to provide your novel with a solid structure, but POV …. Read on, Reader!

Our Sunday Best: The Little Things Count for a Lot Around Here

Little girl in a park with Union Station in the background, Washington, D.C. (LOC)

One of the primary lessons I learned at my grandfather’s knee is that the little things are what make up the width and breadth of a person’s life.

The stories we tell about one another are often these big swaths of overarching narrative— the facts and places and faces version of events.

What really happens to us, when you get down to it, is that we wake up in the morning and we commit a series of sacred, small acts— whatever they may be— that are ours and ours alone.

I think this is why I am so haunted by Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“— it’s a poem about a life full of small gestures. It’s also one of the most perfectly executed poems I’ve ever read, which haunts me for a different reason— but that’s a discussion for another Sunday.

Unlike Prufrock, my grandfather was not rattled by a life made of small gestures.

Each moment was examined and opened like a gift. If he was having his morning cup of black percolated coffee and looking out the window, you knew he was doing those two things and nothing more.

His mind was right there with that singular moment. He wasn’t thinking about the newspaper or the work he needed to do an hour from then— he was having coffee and gazing out the window at the natural world and its wonders. That’s it.

This week, I have had a number of big, not-so-happy things on my mind. I find the bigger the issue I am considering, the more I prefer to balance out the big and scary with the small and interesting.

Should I find myself having a truly bad time of it, I …. Read on, Reader!