Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Resources for Writers

On Deciding on Point of View

HowWeDanced

Scotland, Bombs and Potatoes: Writing from multiple points-of-view

As a kid, my mother regaled us with tales of her youth in wartime Scotland. My favourite in her repertoire was of being whisked away with her younger sister to the country manor of a retired naval captain to avoid the nightly bombing of Glasgow. My grandmother had purchased new outfits for the girls (unheard of!) and my mother credited their being chosen from amongst other classmates to their matching blue suits and smart tams.

At the manor, my mother and aunt had free range to play and explore. One of her favourite stories was about pilfering potatoes and taking them to the coal-fire furnace to bake. The way she described those charred spuds made my mouth water.

In my mother’s telling, the story was simple, sweet and endearing. The same scenario offered from the naval captain’s point-of-view would no doubt be different. What were his motives for harbouring the girls? Was he a selfless humanitarian or an elderly bachelor with a penchant for pre-pubescent children?

And what of the housekeeper entrusted with the girls’ welfare? Why were they allowed to run rampant without supervision? Was the woman busy with chores, or after a long night of drinking was she dozing by the kitchen stove? Whatever the case, I’m certain she had an alternate version of the wild wee lassies from Glasgow.

Having a story is one thing. Telling it is quite another. My mother’s account of her time in the country has the makings of a delightful picture book. If the captain and/or the housekeeper’s version of events were added, however, the narrative becomes richer, more complex and the possibility of a dark novel emerges.

Resource Categories

Blogs on Craft

On the Building Blocks of Fiction

Tips on how to craft vivid scene that allows the reader to experience events right along with the characters.

On Finding Your Big Idea

Insights into the writing process and what a writer's day really looks like, as well as perspectives on research and writing from real life.

On Getting to Know Your Characters

Advice on the many ways you can make your characters come alive on the page for both you and your reader.

On Deciding on Point of View

What is the best perspective from which to tell your story? Writers discuss how they made choices on point of view and voice.

On Choosing Your Situation and Setting

Writers talk about how they use situation and setting to build story and convey emotion.

On Developing Conflict and Structure

From how to work in different genres to finding the real story, writers offer good advice on building conflict and structure.

On Revising

Tips on how to gain distance from your work and to how to re-imagine your next draft.

On Publishing

Writers offer practical advice on the business of writing and promotion, and on the importance of finding a writing community.

On Making a Living as a Writer

Writers offer words of wisdom on living on less.

On The Writer's Life

Writers talk about their life as a writer.

About Gail

Gail's novels have been national and international bestsellers and two have been short-listed for the Giller Prize, among other awards. She works with writers from around the world on her online teaching forums.