Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday's Tip for Writers #3 - More on POV

I have another point of view related writer's tip to share.

When firmly in a character's point of view, take advantage of being there. Sometimes in the stories or novels I edit, a writer excels at showing the point-of-view character's thoughts as long as the character is alone. But when another character enters the scene and a conversation begins, all internal thoughts stop. The scene can be more effective if the point-of-view character's thoughts continue during the discussion.

I won't go in to more detail about that in this post because I covered this in My Lucky 13 Tips for Dialogue article over at the Murder by 4 blog, but there's a second part to this pov tip.

When firmly in a character's point of view, take advantage by eliminating he felt, she saw, Winfred knew type comments.

Change: He felt pain in his leg.
To: Pain flared in his leg.

Change: Sally saw smoke drifting out of her chimney.
To: Smoke drifted out of her chimney.

Change: Victor heard thunder boom.
To: Thunder boomed.

When we readers are firmly in a character's point of view, we don't need constant reminders it's our point-of-view character who's seeing, hearing, feeling, or thinking. We know who's observing or thinking, and those reminders dampen the immediacy and make the sections feel less active. Look at the subject/verb combinations in the examples above and decide which are more dynamic.

He felt vs. Pain flared
Sally saw vs. Smoke drifted
Victor heard vs. Thunder boomed

Sometimes the point of a sentence is that Mark heard or saw something. Sometimes the rhythm or sentence structure or mood or atmosphere needs to include "Nancy felt." That's fine. You can have a pov character see something happen--there's no "rule" against doing so--but experiment with this small change, see if it makes your sentences more active and immediate. And if, like me, you end up making a bunch of sentences more active and immediate, your whole story becomes more active and immediate. And all this active immediacy comes from using point of view to your advantage.

You just got to love point of view. Well, you don't have to, but I sure do.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent examples at how to trim the dialogue and scene and make the whole experience even more real for the reader.

    It doesn't matter how long somebody's been writing. POV is always a hurdle to master. But once that's done, it's easygoing from there. Well, at least here's to hoping it is.

    Thanks for your post.