Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is Deep Point of View (POV)?

The point of view where a reader experiences being inside a character’s mind, knowing his actions, feelings, emotions, and thoughts.

The reader becomes the POV character.

Before you write a scene, decide which of your main characters—or possibly the villain—will be the point of view character. Everything in the scene will be experienced through this character. Consider:
--Which POV character has the most at stake?
--What must be revealed or remain hidden? (If a character has a secret, you don’t want the scene to be in his head.)
--Which character has the strongest emotion in the scene?

Layers of Deep POV.
On the surface, the reader experiences the actions of the POV character. Going deeper, the reader perceives what the character sees, hears, feels, tastes and touches, which also establishes setting. Then, the reader discovers the thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Finally, the character displays a unique voice that’s based on sentence patterns, age, gender, education level, career, and attitudes.

A five-year-old protagonist sounds different than a college professor. Male characters should sound different than female ones. A reader selecting a random page in your novel should be able to tell which character is speaking by the unique voice you’ve given to each POV character.

Setting becomes more than mere description and reveals qualities of your character. Describe setting through the POV character’s eyes. If your POV character wouldn’t notice the setting, then it’s not important to the reader, so you’d give minimal description. But if your character is an architect or a building contractor, you‘d describe the building in more detail then if your character is a mailman. If your character is a forest ranger or a botanist, you’d describe the field differently than if she were a hairstylist.

Choosing Vocabulary.
My husband used to say there were only sixteen Crayolas in his box. He’d recognize beige and tan as synonyms for light brown, but words such as ecru, fawn, cream, sand, oatmeal, or taupe weren’t colors in his vocabulary. However, if your POV character is an artist, paint contractor or fashion consultant, he might have a wide pallet of colors.

1. Write the scene before worrying about a lot of rules. Then, edit and decide which rules you need to follow.
2. AVOID: seemed, appeared, and looked.
Example: In the moonlight, Sara looked at a tall man limping toward her.
Better: In the moonlight, a tall man limped toward her.
3. AVOID: He or she thought/felt/saw/noticed/wondered.
Example: She wondered, how many times had Nick warned her to observe the details the police would need to solve a crime?
Better: Nick had warned her to observe details the police would need to solve a crime.
4. AVOID: describing your POV character's physical traits. I know I’m a petite brunette. I don’t think about it, and your character shouldn’t either.
Example: Suzy ran her hands through her long, silky, blond hair.
Better: Suzy pulled her hair into a ponytail.
(The reader will learn the color of her hair when another character notices it.)

1. Become your POV character for a day. I’ve heard of several authors who say they’ve done this. As you sort laundry, stir cream into your coffee, run errands, think of how your character would react in each situation. It sounds crazy. But we’re already crazy, since we hear voices. It’s worth a try.
2. In a workshop, Author Suzanne Brockmann advises to write the scene in first person, then rewrite the scene in third person point of view, changing as few words as possible.
3. Read The Power Of Point Of View: Make Your Story Come To Life by Alicia Rasley.

When writing deep POV, every word should reflect the personality of your character and bring him or her to life.


~Roxanne Sherwood~

1 comment:

Stina Rose said...

Thanks for the tips! It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who hears voices. :)