News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Monday, June 30, 2014

Point of View -- The Last Word

Point of view is something all beginning writers struggle with. It is simply a matter of letting the reader know who they are in the story. Imagine you are playing a role in a film. This is who you are, this is what you see, and this is how you feel about it, and what you understand is going on in the scene. How you choose to convey all this to your reader, to make him part of the story, is the point of view. You have to decide how you’re going to do this. There are a lot of choices and it can get pretty confusing. In the last two blogs I’ve only told you how I’ve dealt with this, with some success, with two of them, Interior Monologue and Omniscient. I’m also a beginning author, not an expert and only sharing my experience.
Most of us write in third person POV. You pick out your main character and see the action through their eyes. You let the reader know in the first line or two of the chapter who that person is and can establish how they feel about themselves and the world around them. This is where “show, don’t tell” comes in. You don’t say: “she saw him and was frightened.” You say: “The menace reflected in his eyes and the way his fists clenched made her heart pound.”
The good news is that there is an expert who has written a series of books that not only explain POV, but the entire craft of writing. Her name is Dr. Angela Hunt. There are seven short, easy to read books in the series titled, Writing Lessons From The Front. The first book is about plot, the second about creating characters, the third about point of view, the fourth is titled Tracking Down the Weasel Words.
Weasel words? All beginning writers do it. We use too many words to describe a scene or make a point. A very wise mentor of mine, Dusty Richards, who is a member of my writing group and has published at least a hundred and forty western novels, puts it this way, “You have to have something happening on every page.” Dr. Hunt tells you how to find all those extra words and get rid of them to keep the action flowing.
The fifth book is Evoking Emotion, or how to keep your readers hooked on reading. She tells you how. The sixth book is Planning and Process, or all that stuff you must do before you get around to writing, and the seventh book is Tension on the Line. You have six seconds to hook your reader on the first page and you have to keep that tension going throughout the book. This might be the most important book in the series, but you need them all if you’re going to be a writer.
The entire series is very affordable as e-books, but if you can choose only one, make it Point of View. Dr. Hunt’s easy, conversational style not only takes the mystery out of the subject, but gives you the freedom to experiment using more than one point of view in a scene or a chapter.
In my western romance, Maddie’s Choice, I used two POVs. Maddie is from New York, a writer, and she has a smart mouth and a sense of humor. Gideon, the male protagonist, is a bitter, disillusioned war veteran, suffering from PTSD. His voice and approach to Maddie’s shenanigans keeps the pace and the humor flowing.
Learn the rules, understand the reasons for them, then go your own way. Rules were made to be broken, as Dr. Hunt says.

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