And I will tell you, "Yeah, that's true. But ... you still shouldn't."
No disrespect to Miss Austen intended.
I'm not going to talk about omniscient narrators - *wincing in embarrassment and fear* -because I don't understand them.
There, I said it. I feel better having confessed.
The Gossip Girl books and the Luxe series are both done with omniscient narrators. I don't understand why it works or how it works or what makes that different that head hopping in 3rd person. And I'm not even sure if omniscient POV improves the books, because part of me thinks I would be much more emotionally invested in the stories if I felt like I was sitting inside Serena's or Elizabeth's head, rather than sitting behind a camera on their shoulder.
|These are the cameras I'm reminded of when I'm reading omniscient books. Those giant ones from the 80s that the men had to carry on their shoulders.|
If any of you understand omniscient and want to whip up a guest post, I will happily host you. Please. Educate me on why this would ever be a good choice. Okay, except for that one scene in The Help, in which the POV switch was very well done.
Wait, I said I wasn't going to talk about omniscient, didn't I?
Let's instead start our conversation by talking about deep POV (point of view). What is it? What makes it so special? How do I achieve it?
Here's the opening paragraph of the dandelion story. This is how to not write:
New school clothes and make-up could not hide the girl's nervousness. She stood in the doorway in a short black skirt and clutched her backpack straps with both hands. The girls chin length, coffee colored hair fell softly into her eyes. With a casual and swift movement of the right hand, she pushed the hair behind her ears and reached for her backpack straps again.
There you have it. That's Stephanie Hines writing circa 2000. Or '99. One of those. I'm itching to edit it, but I opted to copy and paste from the original document.
Let's choose to ignore the abundance of description and focus on the POV. And don't look at where I missed an apostrophe. Or that adverb....
The big rule for POV is thou shalt tell each scene from the POV of only one character. That means if you want to share something from the POV of another character, you must end your scene and start a new one.
The above paragraph is at least focused on Paige, my main character. High-school-me earns points for that. But this reads like you, the reader, are watching Paige through a video camera. To write deep POV, we must instead be watching the world through your POV character's eyes.
If I were to rewrite the opening of this book, I would just scrap most of the above. Since my focus right now is showing you the difference of deep POV, I'll instead transform what I originally wrote.
As Paige lingered in the doorway of the classroom, thumbs hooked in her backpack straps, her racing heart seemed so loud in her ears, she was sure everyone could hear. Why had she chosen heels today? Her knees would have been wobbily enough in sneakers. But of course it had been a very long time since she'd worn comfortable shoes.
She wanted to tug at her skirt hem - it hadn't seemed so short in the store dressing room - but she forced herself to stand up straight. He might be here, and there was no way she'd give him the satisfaction of knowing how tight the knots in her stomach were.
Okay, so I didn't get in the thing about her hair, but I think there's enough for you to see the difference.
When I was deepening the POV, you know what struck me? When you write in shallow POV, you don't have to think much about what your characters are feeling. In the original version, because we were hovering outside of Paige, all I felt I needed to express was that she had made herself up pretty, but still looked nervous.
When I went deeper, I was asking questions like "What is making her nervous?" With about 20 seconds of thought, I decided she was unsure about the clothes she'd picked (I'm sure I'm not the only girl who thought an outfit totally worked in the dressing room, only to feel weird wearing it in real life situations.) She's also apprehensive about seeing her old boyfriend.
The deeper version shows us two additional things that I like - we get a hint about who Paige has become (she's not a girl who wears comfortable shoes), and we know she's got some pride issues with the guy (she doesn't want to give him the "satisfaction" of knowing she's scared).
We have a tendency to write shallow because it's easier. Not only do we not have to think through how our character is feeling, we don't have to experience it ourselves.
We're going to talk more about POV next Wednesday. On Monday, Amy Deardon, author of The Story Template is our guest. She'll be talking about "story pillars" and is giving away a copy of The Story Template, which is a wonderful craft book. You won't want to miss it!
Have a great weekend everyone!