Because I'm going to be doing a workshop on Point of View at the Emerald City conference, I thought I'd share some of the things I plan to cover as I prepare my speaker notes. If you have any POV issues you think I should include in the workshop, let me know. I'll lead off with the various types of POV, but didn't think I needed to include that here. Since I write in deep POV, that's going to be the focus of my workshop.
Point of view (POV) is the vantage point from which we show a section of the story to the reader -- and it's one of the hardest things to deal with when we write.
Usually, we only tell the story through the eyes of one character -- or at least one character at a time. When we switch back and forth, the reader is jerked from one person's head to the other, and it's hard to develop empathy for either character.
If we've chosen to use our heroine's POV, then the reader will see what the heroine sees, hear what the heroine hears, and know most of what the heroine's thinking.
The reader won't know what anyone else is thinking, or what's happening behind the heroine's back, or what's said after she leaves the room. If the heroine doesn't see it, hear it, smell it or taste it, then it can't happen for the reader -- not in that scene, at least.
So how do you show the other character's state of mind (like the hero)? We'll know his state of mind by what he says, what he does, how he acts, and what the heroine thinks about it.
Let's try an example. Sally's the heroine, and she has just confronted Joe, the hero, about a lie she thinks he's told her. Sally's the POV character. How can we make sure our readers connect with Sally and know what's going on with Joe?
• Include Sally's words. ("Why did you lie to me, Joe?")
• Include her feelings as she works herself up to express herself. (Should she say it? Her head feels like it's going to burst. Maybe it would be better to stay silent because he'll only lie to her again.)
• Describe what she sees. (Joe's jaw sets. The corner of his mouth twitches. He looks away instead of straight at her. His knuckles go white.)
• Include what she thinks. ("He's looking away rather than at me, so that must mean he's admitting he was lying, or he'd look me in the eye.")
In Sally's POV, we never include what Joe's thinking -- we don't know if he's feeling guilty for lying, or upset because he has been unjustly accused -- and we don't need to know. Knowing what everybody's thinking will throw all the suspense right out the window. We know what Sally thinks, but we don't know whether she's right. And that makes readers want to keep turning the pages!
Tomorrow, I'll be over at The Blood-Red Pencil for my monthly column. Mike Befeler, author of the Geezer Lit mystery series will be my guest. He's talking about balancing work and writing -- be sure to come back.
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