Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TIP Tuesday - POV

POV wasn't something I ever really thought about before I started writing. Sure, I knew that a story was generally told from a certain character's POV, but I had no idea what that really meant. As was evident by the early drafts of my first book.

My first book was a POV NIGHTMARE. I didn't wait until a chapter or scene break to jump into another character's head. Oh no. I would jump from head to head without a care in the world. I once had four POV's going on in the same paragraph.

Luckily, the wonderful, kind, and oh-so-patient members of my first crit group pointed out the rules about POV. One of them told me to think of it like this: Pretend there is a camera on your MC's head. You can't see, hear, smell, touch, feel, or know anything that your MC doesn't. If you need to be in another character's head, insert a scene or chapter break and go for it. But don't hop around.

Now, I've read many books were the POV hops from character to character mid-page and sans scene/chapter break. It can be done if it's done well. But for the most part, when the POVs go hopping, it does nothing but confuse the reader.

Try not to do it :)

How are you with POV? Was it something you knew to do well right away, or were you a POV nightmare like me? :D

12 comments:

Liza said...

I'm still learning. The camera tip is fantastic. Thank you!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My first manuscript was like yours until I attended some workshops.
I use scene breaks but some famous authors don't.

Christine Fonseca said...

Whenever I am trying a new POV - something I haven't done before, I always have a lot of slip-ups!

Eldra said...

I started writing before I even really knew how to write, but I've never had problems keeping the POV to one person.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I sort of knew it as a newbie writer, but I still made mistakes (maybe still do) of saying 'my face turned beet red' even though the character can't see her own face. Now I try to focus from one POV for the whole story, which is hard because you have to use words like 'probably' and 'seemed' when describing other people's reactions. Or maybe that's just my weak telling vs. showing problem, but that's a whole other blog post.

Aren't CPs the best? I love mine. :)

Jan Markley said...

Good reminder about POV - thanks!

storytreasury said...

It was something I had to learn. In the beginning - which notebooks will never see the light of day - I didn't even know what POV was, let alone how to do it well.

storytreasury said...

It was something I had to learn. In the beginning - which notebooks will never see the light of day - I didn't even know what POV was, let alone how to do it well.

KLo said...

It's funny that you posted about this today, because I've been thinking a lot about POV lately.

Although writing is my passion, I'm an English teacher to pay the bills, and one of my classes has really gotten into the idea of how important POV is. We just finished reading "The Outsiders", and these kiddos have just taken the thinking to a higher level in terms of how limiting the story as told by Ponyboy is, how different it might be if told from the POV of a different character, and so on. The ideas of my students have gotten so much bigger than what I wanted them to get ... kind of a random tangent, but you reminded me of it and I got that warm, fuzzy feeling ;-)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I usually use first person. It's what I like to read in a book, and you can hide things from the hero and the readers to surprise them later.

I did an experiment with my YA urban fantasy, THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH. Since he is the unknowing son of the Angel of Death, he can slip into the mind of someone close to him so fully it is like he is thinking their thoughts. It was fun. And done sparingly, it was a good plot device to get poor 13 year old Victor into even more trouble than he was used to!

You have a lovely blog, Roland

Hannah Kincade said...

Surprisingly, it was something that I've always done really well. I just go with whatever comes naturally when I first sit down to write and don't over think it. It's work so far...

Angela Felsted said...

I've yet to try third person. I have a hard enough time with first.