Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More on POV

Sorry today's post is late, y'all. I've spent my morning in mourning over the cancelled Muse concert here in Kansas City. They claim they'll make it up to us on the next tour, however it seems like forever since they were here last, so...

(Wiping away disappointed tears.)

Anyway. On with life.

Okay, I'd originally planned to talk about something else today, but I've had a couple e-mails asking follow-up questions about POV, so instead I'm going to talk about that a little more.

POV is different than writing in 1st/2nd/3rd person

When I talk about using proper POV and not head hopping, that's totally separate from if you write your story like, "I saw Suzanne steal the milk," or "Jane saw Suzanne steal the milk." Here's how it looks:

Incorrect 1st person POV:
I saw Suzanne steal the milk. She glanced at me, her eyes sparking because she knew I disapproved and wondered if I would turn her in.

Correct 1st person POV:
I saw Suzanne steal the milk. She glanced at me, a strange spark in her eyes. Why? Surely she knew I disapproved. Didn't she think I'd turn her in?

Incorrect 3rd person POV:
Jane saw Suzanne steal the milk. Suzanne glanced Jane's direction, her eyes sparking because she knew Jane disapproved. She wondered if Jane would turn her in.

Correct 3rd person POV:
Jane saw Suzanne steal the milk. A strange spark lit Suzanne's eyes. Why? Was it because she knew Jane disapproved? Of course Jane would turn her in.

Are you seeing the difference? When we use POV properly, we're firmly in Jane's head. We're seeing only what she sees. We're hearing only her thoughts. It has nothing to do with whether or not we refer to Jane as "I" or "Jane."

Using POV properly doesn't mean limiting yourself to only one POV for the entire book

You're just limiting yourself to one POV per scene. Here's how this would look:

Jane saw Suzanne steal the milk. A strange spark lit Suzanne's eyes. Why? Was it because she knew Jane disapproved? Of course Jane would turn her in. As Suzanne moved toward her, Jane took several steps back. Please God, she prayed, don't let her hurt me.

*Scene break*

Suzanne had always known Jane was weak. All it took was a glare and a few powerful steps to make Jane cower in the corner.

Or you move on to a totally different scene and leave us dangling with Jane and Suzanne-the-milk thief. That can be very effective. So like instead of switching to Suzanne's POV, you go into something like:

John had never been on this side of town before.

Or whatever. This is a great method for building tension in your book.

Does this clarify some things for those who had questions? Are there other questions I missed?

2 comments:

  1. Good job, Stephanie! Love your explanations. Hope you're getting lots of followers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for these two posts!! I've found myself head hopping and writing in incorrect 1st person incorrectly without realizing it! Thanks again!!

    ReplyDelete

Disagreement is welcome. Rudeness is not. Please be considerate of each other!