Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Point of View (pov) Issues

I stumbled upon a wealth of information on The Wild Rose Press web-site under its "Greenhouse" tab.§ionid=11&id=32&Itemid=142
I've been reading these articles written by published authors and editors at this particular publishing house. Honesty demands I admit that the experience has deflated some of the air from my passion purple I'm-so-great-I-oughta-be-published balloon. As the saying goes, "back to the drawing board" or, in my case, back to the delete key.

Seeing one's mistakes is a good thing, a learning thing. Take what Diana Carlile, Senior Editor of the Scarlet Rose Line has to say in her article, "Writing Rules," about point of view: "I agree with keeping to what the pov character can see, hear, think, feel, taste and smell. Which leads me to a "pet peeve" and something I believe creates passive writing. Phrases like "he thought" "he saw" "he heard" are all telling phrases to be avoided. They distance the reader from the character. When I'm reading, I want to be the character--think what they think, feel what they feel, hear and see what they do. If I'm told I think/hear/see/etc something, it pulls me out of the scene. Just show it. Instead of saying "He thought she was beautiful." just say "She was beautiful." The reader knows we're in his pov. It's his thought." 

Good information, I thought. Smugly, I might add (Diana Carlile wrote against using -ly words, too, but we don't need to go there just yet. An old broad can only change so many bad habits at once). Just to prove to myself that I hadn't made such errors, I opened a finished chapter in my historical, read over it and cringed. Needless to say I am currently working my way through my manuscript, beginning with chapter one--correcting.

Say, for example, I had written--Erin pulled her car into her driveway, still feeling stressed from her day at work. She noticed that the grass needed mowing and her flower beds weeding and groaned. She crawled out of the car feeling tired and old. Those chores would have to wait until another evening.

Following Diana Carlile's suggestions, I would write--Erin pulled her car into her driveway, yanked on the brake and sighed. What a day. No one should have to experience the hurry and the bustle and the stress of that understaffed and overworked office. She got out of her car and slammed the door. The high grass was decorated with her children's abandoned toys. Bees buzzed from blossom to blossom once they'd navigated through the flower bed's maze of weeds. She trudged toward the door like an aged woman with arthritic joints. Mowing and weeding would have to wait.

Can you see the difference? Learn to identify pov issues. I know I am...or at least trying to. Wait! Did I just break another writing rule?

1 comment:

Peggy Pearce said...

Vonnie, do you use Italics for thoughts? Karl is undertaking another rewrite to "help people connect with the characters". I feel his novel is really political fiction but that category does not exist for editors. Sometimes I feel we are trying to put a square peg in a round hole. I enjoyed his book and didn't have trouble identifying with Vicky because I have a daughter with a similr personality. Also, I am probably biased although I try not to be. It is hard to love someone and not love what they write.

I noticed you have Janet Evanovich on your list of favorite writers. I have read One thru Thirteen so far. I lived in PA but just cross the river from Trenton where the books are set. Hope all is well with you.