Point of view (POV) is a challenging element in fiction
writing. The fact that trends change both complicates this and urges writers to
continue to study the craft of writing, while staying current on what’s being
published. 
Following are some essentials of POV that may help you in your
writing: 
~ Decide how many
point-of-view characters (POVCs) you are going to have in your book.

Romances usually require only the hero’s and the heroine’s POVs. This way we can
experience them falling in love from both perspectives. If you’re writing a romantic
suspense, you might also include the villain. Women’s fiction novels might only
include the heroine’s POV, and you might choose first person (I/me language),
rather than third person (he/she language). Some novels have an ensemble cast,
if you will, of multiple characters’ POVs. If you choose to do that, be sure to
keep every voice specific so that readers don’t get lost. I will say that as a
reader (not necessarily as an editor) I’ve seen this done well and I’ve seen it
done poorly, meaning I was lost. As you’re deciding how many POVCs to include
in your book, be strategic. Think about it ahead of time. Please do not include
extraneous characters who don’t have high stakes in the story. 
~ Choose a POV
character for each scene.
Preferably the person with the most to lose in
that particular scene, because then you can milk the conflict and tension (and
yes, they are often two different things). Once you’ve chosen a POVC
(point-of-view character) for a given scene, remain in that person’s head the
entire scene. No headhopping over to another person’s perspective.
~ Only show us what
that person can see or know.
Think of POV like this: your POVC is the
camera for the movie you’re playing—a camera with feelings and introspection
and senses. So, during their scene, show us what they feel, what they know,
what they can guess, and/or what they experience with their senses. It’s
natural for people to make assumptions about why others do what they do, but it
must be obvious that your character is assuming. For example, if Fred is the
POVC for a given scene, he can’t know why Sidney slammed the door. Fred can
guess it had to do with their argument. But you mustn’t write, “Sidney slammed
the door in anger.” Better would be to use: “Sidney slammed the door.” Readers
will understand what’s happening. Another key under this point is to not leave
readers in the dark about elements the POVC would know, whether it’s the
environment around him/her, or the character’s names around him/her, or specific
secrets. Stringing readers along on secrets (though it is possible if
skillfully done) will not endear readers to you. Yes, keep secrets, but do it
skillfully. Make it believable why the POVC isn’t sharing the information. Only
keep one secret (and be strategic about it), not a slew of them. If we’re in
her/his head, we should know what s/he knows.
~ Put yourself in
your POVC’s head.
This is the best way to remain in purist POV. Limit
yourself to just that person’s experience, even though, you as the author, know
everything (generally speaking) about the story, the other characters, what’s
coming next, etc. 
~ Do not use
omniscient POV.
As I alluded to, you’re the author. You know what the
characters may not know. You are overseeing their world and putting them into
place, creating your story, and moving them around for your purposes. But, readers
will engage better with a story if they are allowed to remain in one person’s
POV during a scene. That’s why purist POV is so important. This technique
allows readers to really engage, to deeply sympathize with characters, and to
keep track of what’s happening better. Omniscient POV (sometimes doubles as
author intrusion) is when the author brings in a sort of wide angle on the
scene before zeroing in on the POVC for that scene, like an old-fashioned narrator.
But, as I alluded to with trends earlier, this is no longer what readers are expecting.
The narrator for any given scene is that scene’s point-of-view character. If
that character doesn’t know something, it doesn’t get shared. This is limiting,
yes, but key in current publishing trends. 
~ Author intrusion
defined:
when the author includes something that is perhaps pertinent to
the setting, but isn’t coming through the POVC’s perspective. So, you as the
author know how high Pike’s Peak is, but the character is new to the area and
wouldn’t know it. Don’t include it in narration/introspection. There are ways
around this, but be wary of including what might read as brochure copy. Again,
be strategic. Does the height of Pike’s Peak matter to the story? If not, don’t
share it, even though you know it. Again, it’s a kind of purposeful limitation,
but it’s necessary for the sake of the story and your readers. 
~ Do not use what I
call “collective POV,” or “group think.”
The narration should never switch
to what a group of characters thinks at any given moment. Be specific and
strategic with your POVC and remain completely in his/her head.
There are exceptions to these rules. Some genres will permit
more point-of-view infractions than others. And there are a lot more factors
where point of view is concerned than what I’ve listed above. I encourage you
to read current novels in your genre as well as non-fiction books on point of
view.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

Share This

Share this post with your friends!