Archives

Reblog: 7 Point-of-View Basics Every Writer Should Know

This article reposted from BookDaily.com explores the subject of point of view in writing.

—————————-

Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni

Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni takes a Celtic-British point of view.

In writing lingo we refer to point-of-view (POV) as the character through whom we tell the story. We get into the head of a particular character and see the story through her eyes. Sometimes we have one POV through the whole story. Other times we have multiple POVs.

Recently while reading a book, I became confused with some of the point of view changes. It was a really good story in many ways, and the author has had a long term writing career. So I was surprised to have to slog my way through several spots of hopping from one head to the next.

As I thought about the POV issues, I realized that during the last ten years, POV “rules” have grown more firm. Editors, agents, and readers want clear, concise, easy-to-read stories. Head-hopping can brand us as an amateur. That means we have to understand some of the basics that go into having clear POVs.

1. Strategically pick the number of POV characters. We can’t get into the head of everycharacter in our books. Nor should we randomly or haphazardly pick POV characters. We should usually try to narrow down those characters we want our readers to care most about—usually the main characters (hero and heroine). Sometimes, I’ve seen writers tell snippets of the plot from the POV of the antagonist to add tension.

If we add too many POVs, we risk confusing our readers. We also risk developing shallower characters since we’ll have less time in each person’s head, giving our readers less of an opportunity to get to know and thus love the characters.

2. Introduce all the POV characters within the first few chapters. We won’t want to all-of-a-sudden halfway through the book throw in a new POV from one of our characters that hasn’t had a voice yet. It’s best if we introduce all of our POV characters fairly early in the story.

3. Delineate POV changes by a line break or chapter break. In other words, we need to make it very clear when we’re switching to someone else’s POV. Hopping heads halfway through a scene just doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did).

If I want to change POV, I finish the scene first. Before I change POV, I move to a new stage, new setting, and new plot point. Of course, this means before starting each scene I have to determine which POV character will help accomplish the goals for the scene most adequately. And if I need readers to “get in the head” of another POV character during that scene, then I have to SHOW the reactions (or wait to recap their thoughts when their POV comes along in a later scene).

4. After a POV break, clarify the new POV within the first sentence or two. I usually try to use the new POV character’s name in the first sentence. And if not, then I weave it in the second sentence so that my readers are clear right from the start of the scene whose head they’re in. If switching among first person POV, I often write out the character’s name/title at the start of the scene or chapter.

5. Bring in each POV character regularly. I don’t perfectly alternate scenes between my hero and heroine. Sometimes I may need a couple of scenes in my heroine’s POV or vice versa. But I try not to go too long in one person’s head. For those writing with three or more POVs, the juggling can get even more complicated. But we have to remember to keep all the balls in the air.

6. Beware of making POV scenes too short. Story pacing will play a role in how long our scenes are. When we find ourselves changing POV every few paragraphs or multiple times per scene, then we may begin to annoy our readers. If we don’t have a long enough scene, then perhaps we don’t have enough goals and need to consider how we can combine the scene with another.

7. Once in a POV, stick with it carefully. When we get into one of our character’s heads, we need to do the best we can to see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and think about everything the way that particular character would. The more we can stay deeply inside our POV character, the more alive that character will become to our readers.

Remember, we can’t have our characters noticing things about themselves that they wouldn’t normally see. If in doubt, use the mirror test: Am I describing something about my character she would see of herself (i.e. the protruding blue veins in her hand)? Or would she need a mirror to notice it (i.e. the color of her own eyes)?

If she needs a mirror, then she shouldn’t be thinking it about herself (unless she really is looking into a mirror, which incidentally has become a clichéd way of having characters describe themselves).

What other POV tips do you have? What’s been your biggest struggle in handling POV changes?

About the Author:
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she’s not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.

You can catch her on her website www.jodyhedlund.com where she gives great advice for writers and Twitter where she gushes about reading, chocolate, cats, and coffee.

This article originally appeared on www.JodyHedlund.blogspot.com

Announcing YA/NA Blogfest

Can you believe September is nearly over?  I certainly cannot!  The final hours of summer are upon us.  Autumn arrives and with it the Wiccan celebration of Mabon, the second of the Celtic harvest festivals.

 

It is a time where harvest is in full swing.  A time to prepare for winter and the possibility, dare I say, of ANOTHER polar vortex.  Could there possibility be a better time for discovering new books?

To that end, Apryl Baker is hosting a special BlogFest event for young adult and new adult books that she hopes will get people reading and discovering some great books across all YA/NA genres.

 

As part of the festival, a total of NINETY authors are donating some great prizes in two separate giveaways — one for residents of the United States and the other for residents in other countries.  On facebook there will be some games, trivia, and special prizes to enjoy all month long.

 

Boudicca audio coverAs one of the participating authors, I am giving away kindle copies (USA) and Smashwords copies (International) of SIX of my books plus for one lucky USA and one UK winner,  a free download of the audio edition of Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni.  Watch this blog for more information about the books I am giving away and be sure to enter on Apryl’s blog for your chance to win.  Up for grabs are FOUR Peers of Beinan Series books/novellas and BOTH of the Legendary Women of World History Books!

 

So come out, enter to win (accepting entries right now!), and discover some great new books to keep you warm when the weather outside is frightful.

 

 

Summer Coffee Experiment: Iced Coffee Without the Coffee Maker

It’s hot — too hot for hot coffee.  This is one of my favorite food posts to Yahoo Voices made on August 6th, 2013.

 

Summer Coffee Experiment: Iced Coffee Without the Coffee Maker

Beating the Heat with a Surprising Alternative to Brewed Coffee

 It’s hot out there! If you are like me, and odds are you are, the idea of drinking hot anything just doesn’t have the same appeal as it does in October. So what is a coffee lover supposed to do?Drink iced of course!But iced coffee still has to be brewed — or does it?

This summer I’ve conducted a special coffee experiment: put away the coffee maker and make iced coffee entirely using INSTANT coffee.

Did I just say INSTANT? Yes. I realize this is heresy in the coffee world, but yes! At least on a trial basis, an experiment designed to see if I can avoid heating my apartment, even for several minutes, by way of the coffee maker.

Being picky about coffee, just ANY instant coffee will not do. For the experiment, I bought a three ounce canister of Folgers classic roast crystals. I also opened up a bottle of my favorite flavored creamer –Baileys lately.

Here’s the approximate recipe I’ve used this summer so far:

one to two ounces Baileys creamer
1 to 1/2 tsp instant Folgers classic roast coffee crystals
eight to ten ounces whole milk.

Put each of these in order in a standard 12 ounce glass. Stir vigorously. If the day is especially hot, add one or two ice cubes.

I usually then let the coffee sit for a couple minutes to give any unmixed coffee the chance to saturate — then drink it. No sugar required (and I love my coffee sweet) unless I choose to omit the creamer that day — which tastes just as good with a little sugar added to compensate.

The end product is essentially an iced cafe au lait or iced coffee Americano at least as good as any iced coffee I’ve bought at Starbucks. Cost: about fifty cents per glass, depending on the brand of creamer you use with the milk.

After drinking my coffee this way for the last seven weeks, I’m sold; I just bought another canister of instant Folgers to cover the rest of the summer.

As picky as I am about coffee and food in general, this passes my test. Try it yourself!