Thursday, November 15, 2012

Point of View Once Again

Yes, I know I've written about POV before.

Because I've been reading books with point-of-view problems, just thought I'd tackle the subject once more.

One of the books with the problem is an old one of mine--long before I really understood what the phrase meant. And believe it or not, it was the first book of mine that was published. And yes, It was published by a New York publisher. If there was an editor, she wasn't paying much attention because I found other problems too. 

My book was published in 1982 and was an historical family saga. I'd been reading many romances and romance writers--at least at that time period--jumped from one person's point of view and into another and sometimes back again. 

What any writers wants to do is make it as easy as possible for the reader to follow the story. The POV character is the one from whom the story is coming. It should be he character who is most important, at least in that particular scene. The writer will tell the story as through that person, letting the reader know what is happening to him right then, what he sees, hears, feels, touches, tastes, etc. The narrative will be the POV character's thoughts and feelings. He will not know what someone else is thinking or feeling, though he might guess.

Of course remaining in one person's POV is easiest if  you are telling the story through the "I" character, first person, but this is also limiting.

In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, I use close third person, telling the story through Tempe almost exclusively. There have only been a few times when I have switched to another POV character when I really needed to do that to get some information across. In that case, the whole chapter was told from the new POV character.

In my Rocky Bluff P.D.crime series, the story is told through many characters but the POV is limited to one per scene--whoever has the most at stake for that particular scene.


What is really disconcerting is when you are reading along and the thoughts and feelings of one character are dropped and all of a sudden the reader finds herself inside someone else's head. This is called head-hopping. And it is even worse if the POV continues to jump from one person to another.

This is definitely a sign that the author really doesn't understand POV and it really weakens the story.

The easiest way to prevent this is when writing, get inside the POV character yourself and look out through his or her eyes and tell the story as he or she experiences it. If you want a scene to come from another character, abandon the first character and climb inside the new one--become that character while you are telling the scene from his POV.

POV is the hardest concept to grasp, but one of the most important ones. Not handling it correctly can jar a reader right out of the story--something you as the author do not want to happen.

Marilyn 

1 comments:

Barbara M. Hodges said...

Good job on POV. It never hurts to go over it one more time.