Writing Tips & Tools

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lesson #8 - POV con't

by Bonnie Calhoun

Today we are continuing editing lessons from the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

These lessons will be shortened overviews of the chapters and by no means should be a substitute for buying the book. I'm rereading but not posting a lot of good stuff!

Let's continue with Point Of View.

The day before yesterday, we were talking about first-person POV, now we're moving to the other end of the spectrum to the omniscient POV. Instead of being written from inside the head of one of your characters, a scene in the omniscient point of view is not written from inside anyone's head.

So you can see the whole scene from the sidelines. Note that with the omniscient voice what you gain in perspective you lose in intimacy.

then there is third person. If a first person invites intimacy and the omniscient narrator allows for perspective, the thirsd person strikes a balance between the two! Actually it can strike any number of balances...it's the attempt to define precisely these various degrees of intimacy versus perspective that leads to describing twenty-six different flavors of POV.

It's much less complicated to simply treat the third-person POV as a continuum, running from narrative intimacy to narrative distance.

Okay...so what the devil does that mean...I ask myself?

It means that when you describe your settings and actions using only words from your POV characters vocabulary, you're not only telling the readers the facts, but but you're running those facts through your POV character's history and sensibility.

On the other hand, when the voice of your descriptions is more sophisticated, more verbose, perhaps more acutely observant that your POV character can manage, you've put distance between the two!

It is worth noting that, because the emotional connection between your reader and your POV character builds slowly, it's usually a good idea to establish the POV as quickly as possible...in the first sentence of the scene if you can manage it.

When you make the POV clear at the beginning of a scene, you get your readers involved right away and let them get used to inhabiting your viewpoint character's head.


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