Saturday, August 10, 2013

POV- the deeper levels

           One thing I like about reading is experiencing the story through the character's eyes. I love it when the writer lets me 'be the character.' If the character is startled by something she doesn't know, then (unless you're going for suspense) then why not let the reader be startled too? If the character is a little confused, then why not let the reader be a little confused (not for too long though). Make the reader a part of it.

           It's like the same reasons we show things instead of telling them. And maybe that is the difference between bad POV and good POV. Bad POV tells us what the characters are thinking and feeling. Good POV shows us what they are thinking or feeling.

           Good POV also gives the character room to have his own voice and wards off flat characters. 

           The entire book (or a chapter or scene, if you have more than one POV character) is the thought process of one character. Anything that is written in that segment is something that the character thinks.

           So it should be written in words that the character would use. For instance a coach would describe a football game much different from someone who knows nothing about football. He may also use sport jargon or analogies in his everyday speech. Same thing with a scientist or a musician. They would use different similes and metaphors to describe things.

           Also people see things different in general. Hosea and Lilly may visit the same house. But Hosea may see the house as rustic and elegant while Lilly sees it as run-down and ugly. Or maybe Hosea doesn't have a large vocabulary (he should read more :) ). He's never heard the word 'rustic' so he describes the house as 'old-timey' instead.

           I've been told to minimize the use of words like thought, wonder, feel, see, turn, look, saw, etc. Because as people, we really don't think that usually. Just skip that and dive right into what was thought, felt, seen, etc.

Not:  I felt like a thousand needles were pricking my foot. I shook it to wake it up.
Instead:  A thousand needles pricked my foot. I shook it to wake it up.

Not:  I saw the man frown.
But:  The man frowned.

Not: I wondered if this was the right path. I thought back to when. . .
Instead: Certainly this was the right path. But then again, it didn't look familiar.

           Okay, I've also been told to cut down on smiled and glared. Because we don't normally do these things consciously, so why would it be in the character's thoughts? I have a small argument. Sometimes, not often though, we do smile, glare, or even look at someone consciously.

"Who broke the light bulb?" my mom said.
I smiled and tried on my best innocent look.
"Rachel!" she said.
I suppose I didn't look innocent enough.

          
So, in my small opinion anyways, it's okay to use this words. Just not too often.
         
           On a more deeper level, you can even structure your sentences and paragraphs to fit the character's thought process. Normally our thoughts are very conversational. And some people are long winded, and will use run-on sentences. Kind of like Anne of Green Gables. Others are straightforward and don't beat around the bush. And some people -OO Shiny!- every five minutes. So they'd probably add tangential details and their thoughts will have a bunny trail 'process.' If someone is panicked or confused, he'll probably have a lot of choppy, unrelated sentences and questions. If they're very calm-natured, they probably won't use many exclamation points as opposed to a melodramatic character. It's fun to play with, and even more fun to read.


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