Point of View for Fiction Writers by Guest Blogger Laura Hodges Poole, and Early MoGo & Kudos Call-Out

Today is a 5th Thursday, and that means you get to hear from today’s guest blogger, Laura Hodges Poole, as she shares a great lesson on POV…

 

Point of View for Fiction Writers by Laura Hodges Poole

 

Point of view (POV) is the perspective of a character within a scene. POV may change from scene to scene depending on the genre. For example, Christian romance novels split point of view and scene time between the hero and heroine. Women’s fiction novels may show the point of view of several characters or just the main character. Short stories are typically told from one character’s POV.

Before you begin writing, decide which of the three narrative points of view your story will use.

First person – Story told by the main character with words like I, me, and mine.

Third person – Story told from the character’s perspective driving the scene.

Omniscient – Story told from an all-knowing perspective. The author gives information characters don’t know because events and/or their limited interaction with each other haven’t revealed the information. (Sometimes authors slip into omniscient POV without intending to.)

Next, choose one character point of view to drive the scene and stick with it. Changing POV within a scene is referred to as head-hopping. In the past, legendary writers like Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove, have utilized head-hopping effectively. I recently read a book by Christian author Lori Wick, published in 1995, with a lot of head-hopping. Times have changed. Head-hopping is not something you want to try as an unpublished author, or you’ll likely stay unpublished.

Examples of how to utilize character POV:

“Have some juice.” John extended the orange juice pitcher.

Brenda didn’t want juice. In fact, she didn’t want to share a table with someone who had betrayed her. Besides, she hated orange juice. And he knew it. Probably the reason he offered it. “No, thank you.”

John thumped the pitcher on the table, sloshing juice over the top.

“Now you’ve done it.” Brenda reached for a dishtowel. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times.”

“You’ve told me what?” John scowled over his forkful of eggs.

“Clumsy.” Brenda returned his scowl and picked up her fork. If she tried hard enough to ignore him, maybe he’d take the hint and disappear. For good.

The POV in the preceding scene is Brenda’s. John’s mood or nature is reflected by his clumsiness, scowling, and apparent disregard for Brenda’s feelings. He doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what makes her tick. Yet, I’ve not revealed his thoughts. While we might assume John’s thoughts, he would be scene-stealing to interject them.

Take another look at the same sample, repeated below. I’ve inserted an error. See if you can spot it.

“Have some juice.” John extended the orange juice pitcher.

Brenda didn’t want juice. In fact, she didn’t want to be sharing a table with someone who had betrayed her. Besides, she hated orange juice. And he knew it. Probably the reason he offered it. “No, thank you.”

John thumped the pitcher on the table, sloshing juice over the top. Heat spread through his chest like wildfire when he thought about the times he’d tried to please her without success.

“Now you’ve done it.” Brenda reached for a dishtowel. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times.”

 Did you find it? It’s in the third paragraph, noted here:

John thumped the pitcher on the table, sloshing the juice over the top. Heat spread through his chest like wildfire when he thought about the times he’d tried to please her without success.

Head-hopping into John’s thoughts detracts from the scene. Instead, start a new scene:

John gulped his oatmeal. The lumpy mixture went down like a pallet of rocks. He watched Brenda chomp through her toast and oatmeal like a wood chipper. Wouldn’t do to ask for cereal instead.

“Got plans for today?” Her eyes bored through him like a woodpecker on a branch.

“The usual.” John didn’t want to spoil his surprise. He’d asked Cindy Martin to help him pick out an anniversary present. If Brenda only knew how much he cared—maybe things would change between them.

“The usual? Does that include another date with Cindy Martin?”

The oatmeal lodged deep in his esophagus, sending a dull, throbbing ache through his chest. A date? This woman was nuts!

Hopefully, the preceding examples illustrate how to stay in a single character’s POV within a scene. For help on this and other writing topics, a great resource is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition, written by Renni Browne and Dave King.

BIO: Laura Hodges Poole is a freelance writer with three dozen articles, devotions, and short stories in publication. She writes Christian romance novels and is a 2012 RWA Emily finalist, placing second amongst a nationwide field of Christian and secular entries. Laura is also an Associate Editor with Christian Devotions ministry. Her passion is encouraging others in their Christian walk. Visit her blog, “A Word of Encouragement,” at http://laurahodgespoole.blogspot.com.

Vonda here: Great advice, Laura! And your examples made it easy to see. Thanks for joining us today and sharing your knowledge and expertise!

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MoGo7000, Kudos, and Blue Ridge Winners Early Call Out!

Yes, I know I normally don’t announce the call out for MoGo7000 and Kudos until the first Thursday of the month. But since I’ll be leaving for Alaska soon (YAY!), I need to prepare several weeks of posts before I leave, including your MoGo7000 total word counts and your Kudos. So…

MoGo7000: Please continue writing through midnight Friday, May 31. Then tally the total number of new words written on your book project and post them in a comment on this blog. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ME AN EMAIL WITH YOUR TOTALS. THEY WILL NOT BE INCLUDED.

Kudos: If you have a recent success story, we want to hear from you! Had an article published? Signed a book contract? Won a contest? Started a blog? Have a new website? Started a new ministry? Please let me know so we can celebrate with you! BUT YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO BE INCLUDED. Sorry, but it just takes too long to do it otherwise. :-/

  • Contact Me with these details in this format:
  • Your name
  • Your two-letter state
  • Your blog or website URL
  • Your good news
  • Link to your good news, if online

Happy writing!

Vonda

Posted in categories: Announcements | Guest Blogger | Kudos | MoGo7000 | Uncategorized | Writing Instruction

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  • Eddie Snipes

    @EdieMelson:disqus You’ve had busy fingers this month! My MoGo is 8,765 words on my WIP.

  • EdieMelson

    Here are my MOGO totals. Not sure if you wanted them here or on another blog post. I wrote 16,250 and finished my scifi book. Then I wrote 24,561 on my Thomas Nelson book (this month) and just turned it in. Whew, don’t want to do that again!!!

    • Wow, Edie! That’s amazing. So proud of you. 🙂

  • Tim Knopp

    Great point of view examples. So helpful to see it in action.

  • Barb Winters

    Helpful tips. Thanks!

  • POV can be confusing. Thanks for the tips, Laura!
    Have a fun week, Vonda!

  • Cathy Baker

    It’s nice meeting you here, Laura. I plan to file your information away for future reference. Very helpful!

    Have fun on your trip, Vonda. 🙂

  • POV is something I definitely find challenging, at times.Thanks for the clear POV examples, Laura.

    • Laura Hodges Poole

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you found the examples helpful, Sandy!

    • Hi Sandy! Thanks for stopping by. So good to see you at BR!