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