Friday, December 2, 2011

Common Problems (Part 10 of 50)

Don't filter #3. Don't filter by shifting to you. Some writers filter by switching to the second-person point of view. That's like a scene in a film where a man is ready to ring the doorbell to pick up his date. After he got to the door, before he could ring the bell:

Heather opened it and smiled. You know that warm, tender smile that makes a man know she was the woman he wanted to marry.

Shifting to you is like that ploy actors use when they're in the middle of a scene and turn, face the camera, and talk to the audience. It spoils the scene. It pulls us out of the mood and the action.

• When you live in California, you’re not quite sure which scenes are for real or which could be performances.

• If you have ever been to an Itzack Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him.

Are the sentences understandable? Yes, they are. But they're stronger if you stay in the POV that goes before it:

• Those of us who live in California are not. . .

• It's no small achievement for Itzack Perlman to. . .

Because I am a good writer,
I avoid shifting to you.

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