Monday, October 25, 2010

WORDSMITHING 101 - Part Four POV




What point of view are you using? First person? Third person limited? Or third person omniscient?

All of them have good and bad points. The first person is easiest to maintain, I think, but limits the readers to just one character, and what they see, hear, feel, etc. In a way this is good because the readers can be kept in the dark along with the view point character.

Many writers like third person. This is because they can write from different characters. The third person is a good way to go when you have a lot of characters who can put a different perspective on what is happening. Controlling when to slip into another character's mind, or view point, takes some discipline. The best way to change view point characters--a lot of writers do it this way--is to begin a new chapter. It's cleaner, and there is a definite pause. Dean Koontz will use this method, and many other thriller, mystery, and horror writers use the third person POV.

Another way of showing a shift from one character's POV is to have a space before we go to the next character.

The omniscient POV is nearly the opposite of first person. You can go into any one's POV, but you need not allow the readers to get too deep into their head. This is a good POV to use when showing the villain(s) in your story. I've been reading the first in Koontz's Frankenstein series, and he is the master of using the two types of POV. He allows you into the mind of many of his characters, but if you read along, you will notice that he will not allow you into the mind of the creator/villain, Frankenstein--not too intimately. This is done in omniscient and done so well, and seamlessly, you barely notice.

Third Person limited is similar to first person, but the author only stays with one character. All of the Harry Potter series was done this way, with exceptions of the first two chapters of The Half-Blood Prince, and possibly the very last book, where she has chosen to put us into a different character's perspectives.

Which ever authors you enjoy reading, make note of how they work their POV. Especially when it comes to switching the POV character. It's very easy to slip into another character's mind, when we're supposed to be in the other one's. When this is done, it confuses the reader. And you may not want to provide this information from that character's POV in the same chapter. Leave something for another chapter so that you can really go into detail.

Other authors who do a great job of third person: Jeaniene Frost, Michele Hauf, and if you've never read anything by Sunny, you'll see what she does with POV--she mixes the first person and third person limited, as well as the omniscient in one novel. Very delicate balance, and at first, in Lucinda, Darkly I was confused, but once I got the idea of what she was doing, I thought wow

That's all I have for today. Halloween is nearly here!

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