Friday, September 2, 2011

Four Viewpoints (Part 1 of 17)

Point of View (POV) refers to what goes on inside the head of one person during a scene or a book. The modern rule is to stay in one POV. I could also say that you become that person and readers know how the POV individual sees life.

Newer writers tend to jump from head to head within a scene, and often they're not aware of what they're doing. (That style of writing isn't wrong but it takes great skill. Often called omniscient POV, I'll discuss it later.)

Let's say you've chosen first-person POV. You cannot possibly know how another character feels or thinks. Suppose you're in first person and you look at Jamie. "His angry countenance frightened me." How do you know he's angry? You can assume such an attitude, but maybe it's only indigestion or he's thinking of his loss in a bad business deal.

Try it this way: "The look on his face frightened me. Jamie had a right to be angry . . ."

Choose one POV and stay with it.

4 comments:

  1. I am realizing that I have so very much to learn. Today is feels overwhelming. Thank you for your suggestions.

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  2. Just was told by my writer's group about the rule of staying with one POV. I had written in an extra person who confused the reader and now I am in the know about writing in 1 POV. Your blog reinforced the fact and I'll continue to write my book with only 1 POV. Thanks for all your tips.

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  3. I never really thought about it so clearly, the way you explained the POV. This blog made me revisit my writing to make sure I was on track. In one scene I wrote, "His glance to the ceiling suggested, "It's about time."" The way I wrote this statement, I think I'm still staying within my point of view. This is a great writing tool! Thanks!

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  4. I just finished an editing job on a middle grade fantasy novel. This is what I said to the author in the middle of the story:

    At this point in the story, I should be caring about someone or something and I don't. When we were in Eathed's point of view, I was engaged and I felt his pain and burden. Then you took me out of Eathed's point of view and into no one's point of view. I ceased being engaged and involved and instead became a spectator.

    We don't want our readers to simply be spectators. We want them to come along for the ride and feel part of the story. Point of view does that. Or not.

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What are your thoughts?