Search Results for: pov

Using Deep POV to Capture Readers’ Emotions

Image Credit: LastClick/www.freeimages.com

Image Credit: LastClick/www.freeimages.com

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

The books that we remember the best are often the books that made us feel something. Those are the books we recommend to our friends. Those are the authors we seek out to see if they have more books that will provide us with that vicarious experience again.

So it makes sense that when we create our own stories, we want to provide that same emotional experience for our readers too 🙂

One great way to create emotional involvement in our readers is through deep POV.

Please join me today at Jami Gold’s blog for the rest of this post!

What’s Coming Next? I’m guest posting next week as well at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University about writing your book’s back cover copy, but then I’ll be continuing with my series on dissecting books and reading as a writer here the following week.

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Deep Point of View is now available! (You might also want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

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Want a Page-Turner? You Need Deep POV

DeepPointOfView 1By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

I’m posting at Kristen Lamb’s blog this week. She’s been doing a series on deep POV, and I have the honor of being her guest “expert.” I’m talking about how deep POV can make even the less exciting parts of our books, like description, into page-turners.

I hope you’ll join me there!

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Deep Point of View is now available! (You might also want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

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Four Crippling Misconceptions About Deep POV

DeepPointOfView 1By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Myths and misunderstandings abound no matter what skill we’re trying to learn. An important part of learning is sorting out the misinformation surrounding a topic. So today I want to talk about what deep point of view isn’t.

Misconception #1 – You need to write in first person to write deep POV.

Deep POV isn’t about pronouns. We can write deep POV from a third-person point of view. And we haven’t necessarily created a more intimate story by writing in first person rather than third person. First-person point of view can feel cold and distant too.

Misconception #2 – You create deep POV by spending a lot of time on internal dialogue.

This is possibly one of the most dangerous misconceptions about writing in deep POV because it can lead us to include too much internal dialogue (character thoughts) within our stories. Books written in deep POV usually will include more internal dialogue than a book written in a more distant POV, but that internal dialogue still needs to be seamlessly woven in with action, description, and dialogue. We shouldn’t allow our stories to stall out by dropping in giant chunks of internal dialogue.

This isn’t the only issue with this misconception, though. Deep POV is about more than simply internal dialogue. It’s also about internal, visceral reactions to what our viewpoint character experiences. It’s about creating a feeling of immediacy, as if we’re watching the story play out in front of us as it happens (regardless of the tense used). It’s about allowing the viewpoint character’s judgments and opinions and biases to color everything on the page.

Misconception #3 – Deep POV requires us to put our internal dialogue in italics.

Point of view can be a confusing topic for writers because of how closely it ties to showing vs. telling and internal dialogue. Whether or not to italicize internal dialogue is a question of formatting and not one of whether you’re writing in a deep or shallow point of view.

The guidelines for italicizing our internal dialogue are outside the scope of this book, but generally speaking, we’ll have less italicized internal dialogue in a book written in deep POV than we will in a book written in a shallower POV.

This is because we only italicize internal dialogue when it’s what’s called direct internal dialogue. Direct internal dialogue is written in first-person present tense regardless of the tense and person of the rest of the story. Because it’s italicized, it draws attention to itself.

In deep POV, we’re so close inside the character that the character’s thoughts tend to flow and interweave with the rest of the writing and are best written in the same person and tense as the story itself. To explain this another way, the less the internal dialogue draws attention to itself, the more immersed the reader feels in the character. The less attention the internal dialogue draws to itself, the closer the reader feels.

Misconception #4 – Deep POV means we have to show everything that happens.

One argument I’ve heard against deep POV is that it will make your story too long and feel too slow because you need to show everything that happens and you can’t summarize.

Let me give you an example. You might write something like this…

They gathered up their belongings.

Or something like…

They ran two red lights on the drive to Brenda’s house.

According to this misconception of deep POV, you wouldn’t be able to write either of those sentences in a deep POV book. You’d need to show them collecting every single item or you’d have to show the entire drive.

Deep POV doesn’t mean you show everything that happens in a stream of consciousness-style narrative. Deep POV is an overarching technique we can use in our writing, but we can still pull back and use moments of narrative summary to skim unimportant information when necessary. We can also cut any internal dialogue that would bore the reader. Deep POV is a tool, not a straightjacket.

Deep Point of View: A Busy Writer’s Guide is now available!

Do you want readers to be so caught up in your book that they forget they’re reading?

Then you need deep POV.

Deep POV takes the reader and places them inside of our characters—hearing their thoughts, feeling their emotions, and living the story through them. Compared to other writing styles, it builds a stronger emotional connection between the reader and our characters, creates the feeling of a faster pace, and helps avoid point-of-view errors and telling rather than showing.

In Deep Point of View, you’ll learn specific, practical things you can do immediately to take your fiction to the next level.

Each book in the Busy Writer’s Guide series is intended to give you enough theory so that you can understand why things work and why they don’t, but also enough examples to see how that theory looks in practice. In addition, they provide tips and exercises to help you take it to the pages of your own story, with an editor’s-eye view. Most importantly, they cut the fluff so that you have more time to write and to live your life.

Grab a copy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, or Smashwords.

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Selecting POV Characters and 7 Tips to Make the Most of Working with a Cover Designer

Last month, I talked about how to find the right cover designer for our project. Unfortunately, once we’ve selected our cover designer, it doesn’t mean everything will move forward smoothly or well, even if our cover designer is both talented and professional.

Why? Well, a business relationship is still a relationship. That means a large part of the success of the relationship depends on communication. We need to clearly communicate our needs and desires to our cover designer.

So this month I’m sharing my top seven tips for making the most of working with a cover designer.

I hope you’ll join me at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University for my 7 Tips to Make the Most of Working with a Cover Designer.

If you’re not in need of a cover designer at present, I also had another post up this week at Writer’s Helping Writers about how to decide how many point-of-view characters our book needs.

And remember, if you have a question you’d like me to answer or a specific topic you want me to cover, contact me. I’m keeping a file on questions to answer here on the blog in the coming year.

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Point of View in Fiction is now available! (You might also want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

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Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Deep POV – Using Your Pain to Become a Better Writer

I have another special guest post for you today. This time my good friend and writing partner Lisa Hall-Wilson is here to talk to you about deep POV and how you can channel your pain into becoming a better writer.

Lisa Hall-WilsonIn case you don’t know Lisa, let me introduce you a little bit. Lisa is a freelance journalist who works for the faith-based market. Here’s how she describes herself and why she writes:

Growing up, I was a small, shadow-of-a-girl who lived with the characters in my books and hid from the world. Life taught me that sometimes bad things happen, sometimes the bully wins, and no one hears you no matter how loud you scream. But through my stories I had a voice – and people listened. As an adult, the faith I discovered in my teens gave me the courage to face my fears, stomp on the pretenses, and use my writing to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,’ to find the authentic, the real, the heart-of-the-matter.

Take it away, Lisa!

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Deep POV – Using Your Pain to Become a Better Writer

By Lisa Hall-Wilson

Deep POV is one of my favorite writing techniques. Also known as a limited or close point of view, your reader experiences the story right alongside the character telling the story.

Deep POV is emotive, creates a sense of immediacy, and can be written in either past or present tense. The reader is only privy to what the point of view character (POVC) knows, sees, senses, understands, and is aware of. The reader experiences the story through that character, including their worldview, opinions, prejudices, past experiences, education, social class, economic class, family status, hopes, and failures.

Actors have a lot to teach us about writing in this style. Method acting is a technique used by actors to recreate in themselves the thoughts and feelings of the characters they are portraying.

Some method actors take it further than others. Heath Ledger locked himself in an apartment for a month to play The Joker. Jack Nicholson reportedly underwent electroshock therapy for his role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Viggo Mortensen was known to have lived in his Aragorn costume off set, carried around the sword, and personally cared for his character’s horse. Daniel Day-Lewis lived in the woods for six months hunting and shooting and trapping to prepare for his role in The Last of the Mohicans.

Do writers need to be this in-depth? I don’t know – but we can certainly learn a thing or two from the idea of method acting. I want my characters to leap off the page; be so real, you could imagine meeting this person in real life. One way to do that is make each character you.

Our characters are capable of the same kinds of emotional depth we are, so I search for some way to relate to each of my POV characters. What experience do I have in common with them? How did that make me feel?

Focus on that common experience or emotion you have with a character. Dig deep – go there – and let that pain, heartache, loss, resonate inside your character too. Whether or not you’ve personally experienced whatever extreme your character is living through, the base emotions you’re drawing from are the same across the human experience.

A teen being forced to choose between parents in a divorce. My parents are still married so I’ve never lived this, but I know what it’s like to desperately want to avoid hurting or disappointing someone I love. I know what it’s like to feel like I lose no matter what choice I make.

A firefighter who’s discovered his wife is in an adulterous relationship. Obviously, I’m not a man, nor have I faced this kind of situation. However, I understand being blindsided by betrayal. I understand the singular focus of just putting one foot in front of the other because I don’t know what else to do.

A battered mother finally makes a choice to leave an abusive husband. I understand what it’s like to talk yourself into and out of a decision a thousand times. I understand doing something for the sake of someone you love, because you don’t think enough of yourself to do it for your own sake. I understand what giving up on something really important feels like, something you love.

Write what you know. Don’t waste your pain!

Will writing in deep POV, method-writing, change you? It will absolutely make your writing better, and you’ll always learn something new about yourself. Whatever you learn about yourself in the process, you’ll carry with you into your next novel.

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Deep Point of View is now available! (You might also want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

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The 3 Most Common Problems with First Person POV and How to Fix Them

Image by Alfonso Romero

Image by Alfonso Romero

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Welcome back to my ongoing series on point of view in fiction writing. Today is the final installment for first person point of view.

So far we’ve talked about the nature of first person POV and how to write a successful first person POV story. Now it’s time to look at the three most common challenges in first person POV and potential ways of handling them.

Solving these problems is more about deciding on the best path for your story than it is about a right vs. wrong rule.

(1)   The Time Problem

If you’re writing in first person past tense, you always have a time issue. The POV character is telling the story from a distance position. It’s already happened. Some of the tension is removed because we know the first person narrator survives the story being told.

There are ways around this. You could write in first person present tense (which many readers still find jarring even after the success of books like The Hunger Games). You could have someone else read the account left by the first person narrator, so until we reach the end of the story, we don’t know how long they survive the tale they’re telling.

Another way to handle this is to put your character in non-death jeopardy or in jeopardy where death is only one of the possible outcomes. A character can survive while still emerging horribly scarred either mentally, emotionally, or physically (e.g., in Stephen King’s Misery). A character can survive while still risking the possibility of losing someone they love and would have gladly given their life to save.

(2)   The Withholding Information Problem

Because the first person POV narrator already knows what happens, we face the problem of why they don’t just tell us the ending right away. In most cases, as writers, we know that would kill our story by removing the tension.

You can withhold the ending as long as you play fair. In other words, you must have the first person narrator tell the reader everything they knew at that point in time where we are within the story. If you withhold it, you’re cheating the reader, and instead of feeling like we’re part of the story, we end up feeling the artificial constructs surrounding it.

In some genres, like cozy mysteries, you get one free pass. When the sleuth discovers the true identity of the murderer, you can (note I’m saying can, not should) withhold the identity of the murderer just long enough for the sleuth to set a trap for them (or bring them to justice in some way). There shouldn’t be a large gap between the sleuth discovering the identity of the killer and revealing it, though, or again, you risk the reader feeling like they’re being played with.

(3)   The Melodrama vs. Cold Fish Problem

At some point in most books, your POV character is going to experience a particularly emotional event. How are you going to handle narrating that event?

If you haven’t asked yourself that question and you want to write in first person, you need to think about it. Think back to the last traumatic experience in your life. How clear are your memories of it? How clearly were you thinking at the time it happened?

Now how do you translate that to the page in a way that it doesn’t either come across as confusing for the reader, melodramatic, or cold and clinical?

Because if you allow your character to present it in all its chaotic, messy, heart-rendingly emotional glory, you risk confusion or melodrama. If you have your character present it factually and clearly, you risk them coming across as cold or unrealistic.

Experience is the only real teacher for finding the balance to these scenes. You’ll want to specifically ask your critique group, beta reader, or editor about these scenes and how they come across. Then tweak, seek advice, and repeat. It’s a lot like learning to balance on a bike or on ice skates. Once you have the feel for it, you’ll be able to stay upright.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about first person POV books?

If you’ve enjoyed this series of posts on POV, I hope you’ll consider signing up for my How to Master Point of View webinar running this Saturday. (If you can’t make it, sign up anyway. All registrants will receive a recording of the session.) Cost is $45! Sign up here. Or you can sign up for the WANA2Fer where you can get my POV webinar and Lisa Hall-Wilson’s webinar on How to Write Effective Inner Dialogue for only $70. That’s a $20 savings. Sign up for the 2Fer here.

I hope you’ll check out the books in my Busy Writer’s Guides series, including Strong Female Characters and How to Write Dialogue.

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How Is First Person POV Different?

First Person POV in Fiction

Image by Leszek Nowak

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

As we head into 2014, I’ll be continuing my series on point of view in fiction. If you missed the earlier parts in the series from 2013, you can find them here:

Are You Writing in the POV You Think You’re Writing In?

How to Successfully Write Omniscient POV

7 Ways to Develop Your Voice

What Is Head Hopping and How Can We Avoid It?

Today I’m launching into the first of three posts talking about first person POV. I want to talk about what exactly first person POV is and how it differs from the other points of view before we dive in to how to write successfully in first person POV and how to tackle some of the most common challenges that come along with writing in first person POV.

What Do We Mean by First Person POV?

Just like it sounds, in first person, the character is telling us the story directly.

I dug through my purse. No keys. They were here yesterday. I’d dropped them in when I came home from work, didn’t I? I tipped my purse’s contents out onto the table, and receipts, old gum wrappers, and pennies spilled everywhere.

One of the major strengths of first person POV is its intimacy. We’re being brought into the confidence of a character.

Most of the time, when you use first person POV, you’ll only use that single POV throughout the book (like in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or The Shifter by Janice Hardy). However, that’s not a rule. Authors have successfully used more than one first person POV in the same book or a combination of first and third.

You can use multiple first person points of view like in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. I wouldn’t recommend using multiple first person points of view for new writers because it’s difficult to do well.

You can use a single first person point of view for most of the story and then switch to third person for scenes where the first person narrator isn’t present. The theory behind this is that the first person narrator is telling us the story, and the parts in third person are pieces he was told about later. A good example of this is Dragon Bones by Patricia Briggs.

You can use first person for the villain’s scenes in an otherwise third person POV book. This is a way you can hide the identity of the villain. (After all, how many of us think of our names on a regular basis. I don’t.) Julie Garwood did this in her romance novel The Bride.

Or, if you just want to dip your toes into first person, you can use it as a bookend prologue and epilogue to an otherwise third person POV story like in Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning.

How Is First Person Fundamentally Different From the Other POVs?

Other than the obvious use of I rather than he/she, writing in first person comes with a big opportunity—and a big challenge—that isn’t involved when you’re writing in third person or omniscient POV.

By its very nature, first person point of view is more self-conscious than any of the other POVs. The POV character is telling their story to someone. You can see hints of this in the way many first person stories include a paragraph where the narrator introduces himself. Take a look at how Harry Dresden introduces himself in Jim Butcher’s Storm Front and how Abileen does it in The Help.

You, as the writer, need to know why your first person narrator is telling the story and who their intended audience is.

Why does this matter?

The purpose, intention, or goal of the first person POV character in telling the story is what should be driving your narrative. Everything you write should forward the goal the first person narrator has in telling their story. By knowing this, you give your story focus it won’t otherwise have.

You don’t have to directly reveal your first person narrator’s goal or their intended audience to the reader. In most cases, you shouldn’t directly reveal them. But they need to be clear in your head.

The self-conscious nature of the first person POV story means the reader can’t always be certain if the narrator is reliable or unreliable. Beyond this, the narrator can be either intentionally or unintentionally unreliable.

In third person POV, the point of view character can lie to themselves, lie to other characters, or have a false impression of reality, but they can’t lie to the reader because they’re not aware the reader exists. Large parts of the story will be “objective” because they’re “outside” the POV character.* This is the biggest difference between first and third. In first person POV, the character is talking to us in some sense. Because they’re speaking to us, they can also lie to us.

Which means we have to ask, “Are they lying to us?” Presenting themselves in a certain way even if it’s not entirely accurate because they want to be perceived in a particular way (e.g., they want the reader’s sympathy or respect)? Because they want to convince us of something? Are they unable to see reality, and so they’re giving us their perception but not the truth, making them unintentionally unreliable? Playing with these aspects is part of the fun of using a first person narrator and also part of the challenge.

If you’re writing an unreliable narrator, you’ll need to drop subtle hints for the reader. The reader wants to be able to figure out what’s really happening, and to do that, they need hints about whether they can trust the narrator or whether they might need to doubt their story as it’s being told.

Have you tried writing in first person POV? What did you like about it? What did you dislike about it?

* I placed “objective” and “outside” in quotation marks because if we’re writing third person POV properly everything is still filtered through the eyes of the character. However, it’s still filtering. We still see what happens in an objective sense. The driver in front of our POV character slams on their breaks and our POV character hits them because she was tailgating. That’s what objectively happened. How it’s described and what details we receive depend on the POV character. It’s like a coloring book where the POV character fills in the colors but the lines are already there. In first person, however, it’s not just filtered. It’s created. They might tell us that they accidentally slammed into the car in front of them, but it might not have been an accident at all. They might be interpreting events for us in such a way as to make us believe that they weren’t out to get their ex-husband’s new wife. It’s like having a blank page where the POV character first draws the picture and then colors it in.

I hope you’ll check out the books in my Busy Writer’s Guides series, including Strong Female Characters and How to Write Dialogue.

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How to Successfully Write Omniscient POV

omniscient POVBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

In January, Jami Gold had a great post on whether or not omniscient POV would ever be popular again. I’ve been thinking about that post ever since because some people responded to Jami by saying they liked omniscient POV. I received the same response when I talked about why I think omniscient POV is dying. Some people still enjoy it.

Some of you may even want to write in it.

In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, omniscient POV is when the story is told by an all-knowing narrator. That all-knowing narrator is the author, and the story is told in his or her voice rather than in any particular character’s voice. (For more on point of view, click here.)

If you’re thinking about writing in omniscient POV, there are three criteria you need to meet to make it work.

(1)   A story that can’t be told any other way.

I like to use Rachel Aaron’s Legend of Eli Monpress books as the perfect example of this. Even though I’m not a fan of omniscient POV, I wouldn’t have wanted her to write her books in third person because of what she would have lost.

She created a world where everything—even dead, inanimate items—have a “spirit” in them. In The Legend of Eli Monpress, we’re allowed to peek into the mind of a door, a regular rat, and many other creatures and objects you wouldn’t normally be able to have as point of view characters. These creatures and objects aren’t prominent characters, and so in a third person limited POV, we’d never be able to hear from them, but hearing from them is part of what makes her books so fascinating.

To give us the full experience of her world and stories, she had to write in omniscient POV. Her stories couldn’t have been fully told in any other way.

(2)   A unique voice.

Voice is a little hard to define, but basically what we’re talking about when we talk about a writer’s voice is the distinctive way they string words together.

What types of imagery do they gravitate toward?

Is their writing serious? Quirky? Snarky? Funny?

What type of rhythm or cadence do they naturally use?

Every choice we make from the profanity level in our work to the amount and level of description contributes to our voice. If you pull three different authors off your bookshelf and read the first page of their book, you should be able to recognize their individual voices. If I then showed you another passage from one of those writers and made you guess who it was from, if they have a strong voice, you should be able to identify the author.

In other POVs, your readers need to connect with and care about your point of view character(s). The story is told in their voice (or voices). Your voice is there, but it’s less prominent. In omniscient POV, the reader needs to invest in you, the author, and your way of saying things. Your voice is the only voice. They continue reading because they want to hear how you in particular tell the story.

This is one of the main reasons why newer writers shouldn’t usually start out their writing career by attempting omniscient POV. Voice takes time to develop.

And some writers never develop a strong, distinctive voice. That doesn’t mean they can’t write good books. It does mean they shouldn’t write in omniscient POV.

Because this is such an important element of omniscient POV, my next post in this series is going to be on developing your voice.

(3)   Know the difference between omniscient POV, head-hopping, and telling.

Stay tuned! I’ll be covering this in detail after we talk about developing your voice. Being able to distinguish between these three is the crux of writing in omniscient POV.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction, I’m teaching a 90-minute webinar on October 26th. It’s regularly $45, but if you use the discount code MarcyShowTell, you’ll receive 15% off.

My good friend Lisa Hall-Wilson is teaching a class on how to write in deep POV on the same day, so we’ve also gotten together to offer what we’re calling a 2Fer. If you’d like to take both classes, you can get them in a package deal, saving you 20% off what the classes would cost if you signed up for both separately. Click here for more details.

And remember that you can also pick up my mini-book Strong Female Characters: A Busy Writer’s Guide for only 99 cents!

Have you thought about writing in omniscient POV? What’s your biggest concern that’s holding you back?

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Image Credit: Loredana Bejerita via sxc.hu

Are You Writing in the POV You Think You’re Writing In?

Point of ViewBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Point of view problems are the most common problems I see as a freelance editor. And I’m not surprised. Point of view is a difficult concept to master, yet it’s also the most essential. (Check out Janice Hardy’s post on 4 Tips to Solve 99% of Your Writing Problems. It’s all about POV.)

So I’m kicking off a new series that I hope will help you understand your point of view options better, choose the right POV for your story, and get it right when you do.

What Is POV?

When we talk about POV, we basically mean the point of view from which the story is told. Who are you listening to? Whose head are you in? In a practical sense, POV lays the foundation for everything you’ll write in your story, and it comes in four types.

Second Person

Second person POV tells the story using you.

You dig through your purse, but can’t find your keys. They were there yesterday. You’re sure of it. You tip your purse’s contents out onto the table, and receipts, old gum wrappers, and pennies spill everywhere.

The “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that were popular when I was a kid used second person POV.

You’d be able to self-publish a book written in second person, but you probably wouldn’t be able to sell it to a traditional publisher. For an example of one of the few successful second person books, try to find a copy of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City.

Omniscient POV

Omniscient POV is when the story is told by an all-knowing narrator. That all-knowing narrator is the author, and the story is told in his or her voice rather than in any particular character’s voice.

This is easily confused with head-hopping. Head-hopping and omniscient POV are not the same thing. I’ll cover both in more detail in an upcoming post.

For an excellent example of how to write omniscient POV well, check out Rachel Aaron’s The Spirit Thief.

Third Person POV

In third person, a scene, chapter, or sometimes, even the whole book is told from the perspective of a single character, but it uses he/she.

Melanie dug through her purse. No keys. They were here yesterday. She’d dropped them in when she came home from work. Hadn’t she? She tipped her purse’s contents out onto the table, and receipts, old gum wrappers, and pennies spilled everywhere.

Everything is filtered through the eyes of the viewpoint character, and we hear their voice. You can have multiple third person POV characters per book as long as you don’t hop between them in a single scene. If you give the flavor of a particular character’s voice, and switch POVs mid-scene without a proper transition, you’re head-hopping.

Even though you can have multiple POV characters, try to write your book with the smallest possible number. (Few of us are writing something like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.)

First Person POV

Just like it sounds, in first person, the character is telling us the story directly.

I dug through my purse. No keys. They were here yesterday. I’d dropped them in when I came home from work, didn’t I? I tipped my purse’s contents out onto the table, and receipts, old gum wrappers, and pennies spilled everywhere.

Most of the time, when you use first person POV, you’ll only use that single POV throughout the book (like in The Hunger Games). However, that’s not a rule. Authors have successfully used more than one first person POV in the same book. I just wouldn’t recommend it for new writers because it’s difficult to do well.

For examples of how to write first person POV well, read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help (multiple first person POVs) or Janice Hardy’s The Shifter (a single first person POV).

I’ll dig into each type of POV (except for second person) in future posts, but after this overview, hopefully we’re all working from the same foundation.

What POV are you writing in? What you’re biggest struggle with POV? I’m happy to take requests for future posts!

I hope you’ll check out the newly released mini-books in my Busy Writer’s Guides series–Strong Female Characters and How to Write Faster–both currently available for 99 cents.

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Is Omniscient POV Dying?

Gilbert Morris The River Rose

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

A couple months ago, I was excited to be offered a chance to read and review Gilbert Morris’ The River Rose. The River Rose is a historical romance about a woman steamboat captain in 1850, and Gilbert Morris co-authored my favorite series of books during my late high school and early university years, the Cheney Duvall, M.D. series.

I love a clean read (referring to content rather than editing). I love a strong female protagonist. And I love a detail-rich world. The River Rose gave me all of these, and yet, I found myself disappointed.

Because of my great respect for this author, for all he’s achieved, and for the Cheney Duvall series, which still makes me laugh and continues to sit on my shelf of favorites after all these years, I refuse to publicly speak ill of this book, especially since I think the problem is one of personal preference.

I don’t like omniscient POV.

I’ll write more about point of view (POV) in another series of posts, but here’s a basic way to think of it.

When we’re young, our mothers or fathers or grandparents tell us stories. They’ll tell us what each character is thinking or feeling at any moment. They’ll even tell us things the characters don’t yet know. They’re all-knowing in the story world.

And we’re alright with that because we don’t want to experience the story as if we were one of the characters. We want to be safely watching from a distance while our loved one gives us the big picture view.

This used to be the case in most fiction 100 years ago. It would have been improper somehow to poke intimately into a stranger’s story, and we weren’t that far removed from the days when most people were illiterate and the majority of stories were still told orally. Omniscient POV was the norm.

But as we grow and as our society changed, we no longer want to be told a story. We want to see it and live it. We gobble up reality TV. We watch movies in 3-D. Our video games are using cameras to capture our movements to power avatars we created to look like us. We now want stories written in first person or in intimate third person (deep POV). We want to feel like we’re part of the story. At least, I do. I’ll be one of the first standing in line when they create a Star Trek-style holodeck.

So it’s not simply The River Rose. I felt the same way about Rachel Aaron’s excellently written Spirit Thief series. Despite the unique plot and beautiful language, I couldn’t connect.

Even though omniscient POV shouldn’t be confused with the head-hopping that will get your book rejected by agents and readers alike, to my brain, conditioned to first person and intimate third person styles, I felt jarred out of the story whenever I was told something the character I was currently trying to identify with couldn’t possibly know. I subconsciously sought that identification even once I figured out the book used omniscient POV.

Many genres still embrace omniscient POV, including historical fiction, so I’m sure other people will love this book. For these reasons, I’m excited to be able to give away a copy to one person today (US only). Share this post and leave a comment to be entered.

Do you feel the same way about omniscient POV? Do you think we’ll see less and less of it in the coming years or do you think, like many fashion trends, it’ll be back?

I hope you’ll check out the newly released mini-books in my Busy Writer’s Guides series–Strong Female Characters and How to Write Faster–both currently available for 99 cents.

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