Tag Archive - POV

A Look at Masterful Character Description

We began this series on masterful writing last week by taking a look at James Lee Burke’s wonderful character descriptions. All too often writers—beginning and seasoned—skimp on description. Or if they do manage a few lines, they’re uninspired, boring, or laden with stereotype. Good writing—masterful writing—takes hard work.

But it’s not just effort that’s involved. More than effort is needed to craft masterful description. Description is more than what the eye sees. It involves making judgments, coming to conclusions, forming impressions. Since our descriptions must be filtered through our POV character’s mind and heart, instead of thinking of description as a laundry list of items (hair color, eye color, shoe brand), they should reveal just as much, if not more, about our POV character as the person (or place or animal or food—anything) being described.

Think how differently you might approach describing a character who walks into a room if you focused more on the one witnessing than the one being described.

I mentioned in the last post that you must truly know your characters through and through. You must create deep, rich, complex characters full of experience, opinions, tastes, beliefs, sensibilities, prejudices, wounds, knowledge, and so much more. If you don’t, you can’t mine deeply into description fully in POV. Continue Reading…

Cinematic POV—Anything but Subjective

In last week’s post I introduced the POV shot used in movie scripts. In a screenplay, when a POV shot is specified, the writer is instructing this segment of film to be shot as if looking through the eyes of a particular character (or object, as we saw in the excerpt from The Fugitive). Sound familiar? It’s exactly what novelists do all the time. But there’s a difference.

Remember, the camera has no thoughts or feelings; it only observes and records. It’s a way of shifting what the camera is seeing, but it’s not subjective. It’s wholly objective. And this, for most novelists, is a bit foreign. For, POV and subjectivity seem to go hand in hand, right? Not in screenplays. Continue Reading…

Seeing through Your Character’s Eyes

Novelists are very familiar with the term POV, or point of view. Whether only one point of view is used throughout a novel or many, every scene in a novel has to be in some point of view. In first-person POV, the camera is always in one character’s head, and the story is told through her and watching her as the plot plays on. With third-person POV, the camera may move from character to character, but can only be in one person’s “head” at a time—whoever is the POV character for the scene.

Using an omniscient third-person POV gives an author a little more leeway to flit in and out of many characters’ heads and know things the characters may have no clue of. The omniscient storyteller is akin to a god who knows and sees all, but tells only what he chooses. The scope of a novelist’s creativity is bound and determined by POV. Continue Reading…

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