June 14, 2009

Point of View

Point of View (POV) is the most difficult concept for new writers to grasp.

When I was first writing, my sis read my chapters at a critique group because I couldn't find one near where I lived. They told her to tell me that I didn't understand POV. I told her to find out what they meant, of course I knew what having a POV meant, but not what they were talking about. Even after the explanation, it took me a long, long time to really get it.

If you're writing in first person (I opened the door to the ugliest man I'd ever seen) then, of course, the point-of-view will always remain in that person's point of view.

When you use third person for your main character, you might always stay in that person's viewpoint. When you do that, remember, that person can't know what anyone else is thinking. The best way to keep from having a problem is to climb right inside the viewpoint character's skin and look out through his or her eyes. Write what that person can see, feel, hear, experiences, smells etc.

When you want to use another person's point of view, do it in a new scene. The POV character should always be the person who has the most at stake in a scene. Either let the reader know you're changing POV by starting a new chapter or with a space break of some kind. Use the new person's name right away.

Remember, in real life, you never know what someone else is thinking, no matter how well you know the person. You can guess or surmise or figure out--but you don't really know. That's the same for your POV character.

Romance novels don't always follow this rule, jumping from head to head, most often during a sex scene. If you are writing anything except romance though, you're chances of getting published are much greater if you stick to one POV per scene.



At June 20, 2009 at 2:15 PM , Blogger Dorinda Ohnstad said...

Ah, POV, one of my favorite topics. Nicely laid out Marilyn. Personally, I have a hard time following a story if the writer is "head hopping." I want to know whose lense I'm viewing a scene through because it influences how I see the story unfold.


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