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Writing Tips

Writing Tips: Stay in POV

writing-2When readers start your book, they want to get into the main character’s head. Even if your book isn’t from first person POV, it makes sense to stick to the point of view of your main character, and not dart around from character to character.

It doesn’t always have to be this way. Plenty of authors write in an omni-POV: the narrator knows everything, and he’s everywhere. Or they write from the POV of several characters, and the POV changes every chapter or every scene. Think “Game of Thrones”. The story is told from various character’s POV.

But when you’re in the moment, in that particular character’s POV, and you’re telling everything the way they see it – well, even then it’s easy to slip out of point of view.

Take this, for example. We’re in third person POV here, and the “his” in the below sentence refers to the main character, the speaker.

A blush crept up his cheeks.

You might think, at first, that there’s nothing wrong with this sentence. But think about this. How can the speaker know a blush crept up his own cheeks? He certainly can’t see it – unless he’s looking through a mirror. Does he feel it? Maybe. It’s still questionable, and almost goes out of POV.

The speaker, when you stick to a tight POV, is unaware of other’s feelings. He can guess them, based on how they look, or based on what they tell him, but he can’t know for sure. Be wary of making sudden jumps and telling us something the main character can’t know. Don’t relay another character’s thoughts to the reader when you’re not talking from that character’s POV.

Here’s an example.

Kate looked at her sister’s face, swollen and red from crying. She reached out and put a hand on Elsie’s shoulder, wishing she could make everything all right. Elsie looked up at Kate and smiled through her tears. She wanted to stop feeling so broken inside.

What is the POV error? It’s in the last sentence. We started out from Kate’s POV, which was okay. But then we suddenly switched to Elsie’s POV, when we said: She wanted to stop feeling so broken inside. Kate, our POV character, can’t know this. It’s a POV error.

I hope you found this writing tip usual. Stay in POV, everyone!

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