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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writing Tip Wednesday--POV Glitches

Yes, I'm STILL talking about point of view. This topic covers a lot of territory, and POV glitches are one area that's often overlooked.

What is a POV glitch???

Going back to last week's blog on Headhopping vs. Transitions, we saw that each character has his/her own section of a scene. The POV shouldn't bounce back and forth from one paragraph to the next. Instead, we shift point of view partway through the scene with a clear transition. We can show both character's actions--but not through both character's POVs. These actions must be seen and written through one POV. When this character shows things that can only be "known" by the other person, you have a POV glitch.

Here's an example of a POV glitch (with Callum and Jane):

***Callum scooped the last bite of stew, praying his unpredictable captive hadn't poisoned the whole damned lot. The handful of men who'd joined him didn't deserve to pay for his mistake--and stealing Lady Jane Eastwood out from under her escorts' noses had been a huge miscalculation.
***Plunking the pot on the table, she scowled at him. "More stew, Laird and Master Callum?"
***Her gaze drifted to the kitchen door, and he couldn't help but wonder again if she'd managed to sneak any of her "seasoning" into the remainder of his supper in order to aid an escape attempt.

Can you spot the POV glitch? Take a look at the last paragraph. Can Callum know for certain that Jane is looking at the entrance to the kitchen? No, he can't (unless he can see through her eyes).

Here's one way to correct the problem:

***Callum scooped the last bite of stew, praying his unpredictable captive hadn't poisoned the whole damned lot. The handful of men who'd joined him didn't deserve to pay for his mistake--and stealing Lady Jane Eastwood out from under her escort's noses had been a huge miscalculation.
***Plunking the pot on the table, she scowled at him. "More stew?"
***Her gaze drifted toward the kitchen door, and he couldn't help but wonder again if she'd managed to sneak any of her "seasoning" into the remainder of his supper in order to aid an escape attempt.

Note the change from "to" to "toward" in the last paragraph. Callum can see the general direction her gaze takes without knowing what she's actually looking at. Another possible solution is to add "seemed to" and change "drifted" to "drift" after "Her gaze" in the POV glitch version.

Remember that the POV character can't see/feel/taste what another character sees/feels/tastes or know what another character is thinking. He/she can only imagine or guess. Be your point of view character and STAY in his/her head until the end of that POV.

I'll delve into Showing vs. Telling next week!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

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