Guest Blog Tuesday-Hooray for Points of View

Something a little different for this week’s guest blog. Dee S. Knight shares tips on an important writing element…Point of View-

When I first started writing, I had no idea there was such a thing as a point of view (POV). I never thought about it—probably because the books I read had authors knowledgeable enough to handle POV so I didn’t have to think about it. But when I wrote my first books, sad to say, I was not that skilled. I freely head hopped from one character to another, skipping from heroine to hero and back again as though they were marionettes and I was their master. (Well, truthfully, I still kinda do that, handle my characters, but with their own POVs!) I think I did it because that’s the way I thought, and I typed as I thought. Why shouldn’t I tell the reader what accountant Herman thought about Sadie’s pronouncement that she was leaving him for a bull rider—as she was saying it. The operative word there is tell. Not using proper POV changes nudges the writer to telling more than showing, and we all know that’s the number one commandment for writers: Thou shalt not TELL. Thou shalt SHOW.

I don’t want to say that jumping from one person to another within one scene is lazy. It isn’t. But it does make things easier for the writer. We can respond to action in real time rather than making a character wait his/her turn. That waiting time can increase tension—both for the character and the reader. Giving each character their own point of view can stretch your writing skills by making you examine how to describe what a person is thinking through their expression, how they use their body, how they speak. It’s so much more interesting!

Here are a couple of examples:

Head hopping

“Herman, I’m leaving you.” Sadie flung open her suitcase and threw in a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. I should probably pack more than this, she thought, and turned to open the top drawer of her dresser.

What? Herman thought. How can she do this to me? “What do you think you’re doing, Sadie? You can’t leave me. Why-why, we have a house. And a dog.” No way would he let her take the dog, by golly.

Hmph. Does he think I want this old house? But the dog… “I’m taking Suzie Q with me.”

Anger boiled up in Herman. She would not take his dog!

Using POV

Sadie

“Herman, I’m leaving you.” Sadie flung open her suitcase and threw in a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. I should probably pack more than this, she thought, and turned to open the top drawer of her dresser.

Confusion filled his eyes and then he shook his head so that he looked like he always did—tousled, rumpled, and slightly unfocused. How had she lived with him for so many years like this?

“What do you think you’re doing, Sadie? You can’t leave me. Why-why, we have a house. And a dog.”

Hmph. Does he think I want this old house? But the dog… “I’m taking Suzie Q with me.”

His lips thinned and his hands formed fists at his sides. She might have taken a step too far. Herman really did love that dog.

Herman

Anger boiled up in Herman. She would not take his dog! “No!”

He forced himself to calm down, uncurling his fingers from the fists they’d formed and taking a couple of deep breaths.

“Sadie, honey. What’s brought this on? I thought we were happy.”

Standing straight as an arrow and shoulders back, Sadie crossed her arms and glared. “That’s because you never pay attention to what I’m saying.”

You can see, I think that it’s a bit more work to use POV and describe the other character’s feelings, but it’s more effective. It takes no imagination at all in the first case for the reader to know that Herman is angry or that Sadie is determined. But in the POV sections, you can picture for each character what their emotions are based on how the primary POV character’s perceptions. Once I figured that out—after book four, I think—I appreciated my own writing more.

As far as there are “rules,” here are a few you might consider:

  1. Use some sort of separator for points of view in a scene. That just lets the reader to expect a change.
  2. Many people use only two POVs per scene. Others use more than one.
  3. There’s a more subtle way to show a change in POV, usually going from deep POV to a hand-off to the other character. For instance, you go from one person’s thoughts/reflections to a physical example of handing something to the other person. Then the other character has the baton, so to speak and the POV is changed. This change doesn’t need a separator because the change is handled seamlessly. I use the separator and distinct POV sections in a scene. It’s all a matter of preference.
  4. Be sure to start each POV change with a clear indication of which character has control. It can be a name or a pronoun (if a pronoun is enough to differentiate who is talking), or some activity to cue the reader. You don’t want the reader to wonder who is saying, “I love you!”

Don’t be like me. Don’t jump into writing without knowing your craft. Telling a great story may be king in the writing world but knowing the best ways to tell that story is just as important. You owe it to your readers to give the very best you can, each and every time to write!

Knight_OnlyGoodMan_236x360

Author links:

Website: https://nomadauthors.com

Blog: http://nomadauthors.com/blog

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DeeSKnight

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeeSKnight2018

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/265222.Dee_S_Knight

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B079BGZNDN

Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/h8t2y6

LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/dee-s-knight-0500749

 

Writing How Tos Writing Tips

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thou shalt not tell, Thou shalt show. Why wasn’t that pasted on my keyboard before my first attempts at writing. Like you Dee, I had no idea there was such a thing as POV. A reader would be seasick lurching between my characters’ heads.
    Wonderful advice for all aspiring writers.

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