Tag Archive - POV Violations

Description Errors That Result from POV Limitations

It’s important for writers to convey the description of setting and characters through the POV character’s eyes and emotions. But just as we don’t take notice of every single detail in a room or about a person we encounter (I think our brains would explode!), our characters are going to notice particular things, and that’s determined by their personality and mood at the moment.

For example, if a beautiful woman wearing provocative clothing walks into a diner, a young man is going to notice different things about her than, say, a five-year-old child would. He’s going to think different things as well, and it’s likely that, if you put ten men in that diner, you could have each think very different thoughts about that woman because of who he is. An old priest will think different thoughts than a twenty-something bad boy. The priest might notice how tarnished and unhappy the woman seems. The young man may only be checking out her curves and the hemline of her dress.

Scenes are going to feel deficient if description is dumped outside of POV.

But there are also other problems that can occur because of POV, and they stem from what happens when a writer forgets where his character is placed in his scene. Continue Reading…

Staying in Character: The Convergence of POV and Voice

We’re wrapping up our look this month into Fatal Flaw #5: POV Violations. And there are many. POV “rules” aren’t hard to follow once you understand them. The trick is to keep in mind that when you’re in POV, you can only see, think, hear, and feel what through the senses of that one character. Anything that veers out of POV is a violation. 

Today editor Robin Patchen delves into the POV violation involving characters’ voices.

Jane Austen’s books are all written in the same voice—hers. And we love them. But twenty-first century authors can’t write the way Jane Austen did because modern readers have different expectations. Today’s readers look for books written from deep point of view, and in deep point of view, not only are author voices different, character voices are too.

Did you ever watch the TV show Frasier? There’s a scene where his new girlfriend invites him to go antiquing with her. Kelsey Grammer’s character responds, “I’m not one of those people for whom antique is a verb.” A funny line, but it tells us something—Frasier Crane’s writers knew who he was. Do you know who your characters are?  Continue Reading…

Problematic POV—Characters’ Names, Thoughts, and Senses

This month we’re looking at Fatal Flaw # 5: POV Violations. Fiction writers often violate POV “rules,” and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their scenes. Last week we looked at how to accomplish smooth POV shifts. This week editor Christy Distler tackles issues that deal with the use of characters’ names, thoughts, and senses that wander out of POV. 

This month we’re talking about point of view (also known as POV). As Rachel said in the first post, POV “rules” have changed quite a bit over time. In the past few years, I’ve worked with several beginning writers, and I can say without a doubt that POV is the fiction-writing tenet that I spend the most time explaining.

Writers tend to be voracious readers, with many having reading lists full of literary classics (who can blame us?). The classics authors wrote during an era when “omniscient” point of view was commonly used, so my writers followed suit and used an omniscient POV (meaning the story was seemingly told from the point of view of an all-knowing narrator). Continue Reading…

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