Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday Friend - Carol Warham

Please welcome my friend, Carol Warham, who lives in a small village in West Yorkshire. Carol has been writing all her life. As a child she wrote tiny comics for family and friends and a short play which was performed around the school classes. At college she studied journalism but decided it wasn’t the life for her. Writing took a back seat when work and family got in the way. In recent years, she has had a number of short stories and articles published in magazines, and poems accepted for anthologies. She is now working on the third edit of her novel ‘Resolution’ and hopes that after another edit or two it may actually be finished. Maybe just maybe.

V is for Viewpoint

As a fledging novelist, viewpoint or the changing of characters’ points of view has been, for me, one of the most difficult things to deal with.

My novel is written from the heroine’s point of view only. I have found it difficult not to slip into other characters’ POV. Often I would not spot I had done this until it was pointed out to me by my marvellous critique partner. I’m sure she tears her hair out at times!

Usually a viewpoint changes in specific places, paragraphs, chapters, action sequences. My story’s viewpoint must never change. Therefore the actions, thoughts and words of other characters must be either seen, heard or reported back to the heroine. Recently I read a novel where the story head hopped from character to character often without warning. I found this difficult to follow and often had to backtrack to check who was speaking.

One viewpoint I have always been told to avoid is the ‘negative’ viewpoint. For example: ‘Chris didn’t see the man waiting by the corner,’ or ‘Sally didn’t realise who was waiting in the next room.’ If the character doesn’t know these things, why has the reader been forewarned about what may be a dramatic scene about to unfold?

Encouraged by my CP I began to delve into what is commonly referred to as Deep POV. Many stories are written from the third person narrative, so that, as readers, we are ‘watching’ the story unfold on the pages. Deep POV differs from this considerably.

So what is Deep POV? This means getting inside your character’s head, being your character. You can think, feel, hear, taste and touch what she does. You have to be that person. Their thoughts, actions and words must show what they are feeling and move the story along. It is a skill that leads to strong emotive writing. There is no author intrusion; no telling or explaining what the character is feeling or thinking because you don’t tell yourself what you are thinking or feeling do you?

How have I achieved this, or rather tried to achieve this? Firstly I had to dispense with all speech tags. They should not be necessary. Your character will not ‘say something angrily’. Her actions and thoughts will show that she is angry as you feel her anger. Tags can pull the reader away and out of the character’s head. They remind the reader that they are not that character. They keep a distance between reader and character and this is not what you want.

I had to eliminate sense verbs – “saw, felt, heard, smelt”. Next came the thinking verbs – “thought, remembered” and the emotion naming – “terrified, worried, determined.”

All perceptions must belong to the character and not the author. Would she/he really say/think that? Would you?

One of my scenes, which has caused some amusement and some rethinking involved my heroine becoming inebriated. She notices that her glass never seems to empty. She is puzzled but steadily goes on drinking. My critique partner posed some questions about my handling of the scene and my character’s POV. It wasn’t coming across very well. One question was ‘Who keeps filling her glass?” My reply was simple. If my heroine doesn’t know, how do I know? We managed a compromise in the end.

One of the things I found difficult was to delve deep into the heroine’s emotions, feel what she was feeling and then write it. Deep POV means going deeper and deeper still into that character’s emotions and feelings, deeper perhaps than you may even go into your own. It is intense and can be emotionally exhausting.

Initially this was a concept I struggled with and still do. It does not come easily to me. However the effort to learn to write like this will take my novel, I hope, to a richer and more professional level.


  1. Thank you so much for having me on your blog. It was great fun writing this. It's not true, I can write without a drink in my hand...occasionally.

  2. Hi Carol! It sounds like you are at the same stage as me--editing. Inserting deep pov, questioning and checking every word.
    You're right about eliminating the negative POV. A character can't notice what they don't see. Sense verbs are harder to eliminate thoroughly.
    Inserting the right amount of deep POV--too much is exhausting to write and (I feel) exhausting to read.
    It sounds like you are doing great. Please let us know when you are ready to send your story out into the world!

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  4. A very useful blog. Thank you. My current novel is also being written in 3rd person deep POV. I'm 45,000 words in. I expect to pick up errors when I get to the editing stage. Really enjoying it though.

  5. Thank you both. I find the deep POV doesn't come easily to me but certainly is worth the effort.

  6. Thanks Carol. Driving to a single. Deep POV must introduce some significant challenges given the freedom the approach requires you to surrender. I'm curious what kinds of challenges you've found hardest to overcome? (Other than being drunk, that is!).

  7. Hi Carol and welcome to HWH. I always find it difficult to maintain deep POV, but it's great when you can get into it! Good luck with the book.

  8. An interesting blog, Carol. Although I've been writing for a long time I still appreciate reminders like this about deep point of view.

  9. Hi Carol,

    Welcome to Heroines with Hearts!

    I agree with you. Head hopping in the middle of a scene with no break or transition makes me crazy.

    Mastering deep POV for our characters is definitely a learning curve. I'm so much better at spotting deviations in other authors' work than in my own...but I guess it's like that with a lot of things, right?!

    One of the first editsI do on a mss is to search for all of those telling words and get rid of them.

    1. I'm learning a lot but I've still got a long way to go. Thanks Debra

  10. Thanks so much for being our guest today, Carol. I tend to write in Deep POV almost automatically, although I do use the shallower POV sometimes. To me, it's the difference between watching performers on a stage and being on that stage and playing the part. When I'm writing, somehow I *am* the POV character.

    1. Thanks Paula. I wish I could do it almost automatically. Maybe I prefer to watch rather than be on the stage! :)