November 29, 2011

Mystery We Write Winter 2011 Blog tour Presents Marilyn Meredith

 

Point-of-View

Understanding what Point-of-View means when it comes to writing a novel was no doubt the most difficult thing for me to learn. As I read other authors’ books—especially those who were published with a small press or self-published—I know that the concept is not readily grasped by many writers.

So what is POV as most authors refer to this? When I was told, years ago, by my critique group that my POV was all over the place I had no idea what they meant. I knew what having a point-of-view meant, but not what they meant by POV.

Recently, I was on a panel about POV with other authors and it didn’t take long to realize we all didn’t have the same idea what it meant when it came to writing our books.

Of course there’s the Omniscient POV which is coming from someone who knows all. (Simplistic explanation, but this is the way many if not all of the old classics were written.)

First person POV is probably the easiest to write as the whole story is told by the “I” person who is experiencing everything. This person only knows what he or she sees, hears, experiences, feels, tastes, etc.  (Nowadays, some authors are using more than one first person POV. Tricky and not recommended unless you really know what you are doing.)

Third person close is what I like to write. This is almost the same as first person except that it’s coming from the “he” or “she” character. In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, I write strictly from Tempe’s POV. The story is told as she experiences it. This means I don’t jump into anyone else’s POV—the reader will only know what she knows.

If I did decide to tell something from another person’s POV, I would start a different chapter and immediately write something that would alert the reader that the next part was from another person’s POV. I could do the same thing with a scene break (a space) but I don’t choose to do that in this particular series. A for instance, in Invisible Path the first chapter is from another character’s POV which gives the reader a little insight into what happens later.

In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series I used multiple viewpoints but always with a scene break to let the reader know what is going on. When doing this, it is important that you always let the reader know whose head the story is coming from.

Why I don’t like head-hopping (jumping from one character’s POV to another)  is I think it makes the story choppy. What a writer needs to remember is that whoever the POV character
is, he or she can’t know what another character is thinking. Of course she can tell is someone is getting angry by if she sees the other person’s face has turned bring red, he’s clenching his fists, etc.

Having said all that, recently I read two extremely exciting books where the POV jumped all over the place. As a writer, it drove me crazy—however, I kept right on reading because the stories were so clever and kept me turning the pages.

To help me, when I’m writing, I climb right inside my POV character and see what’s going on through her (or his) eyes. Everything that happens has to be something she’s experiencing—and the narrative is what she’s thinking.

Marilyn Meredithis the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Bears With Us from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Angel Lost, the third from Oak Tree Press. She was an instructor for Writers Digest School for 10 years and has been an instructor for numerous writing conferences including the Maui Writers Retreat. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://www.marilymeredith.blogspot.com

Bears With Us Description:  Deputy Tempe Crabtree has her hands full when bears turn up  in and around Bear Creek, a young teen commits suicide and his parents’ actions are suspicious, a prominent woman files a complaint against Tempe and her preacher husband Hutch, a love  affair from long ago comes to light, and a woman suffering from dementia disappears.

http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

http://mundania.com/book.php?title=Bears+With+Us

Thank you, Marilyn.  Folks, stop by tomorrow for another great blog by another wonderful author.  And don’t forget to comment to enter the contest to win one of Marilyn’s books.

Cheers, Beth

 

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Comments

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  1. Great post on POV. I struggled with it too and it seems everytime I start writing, it is in third person and I end up editing it back to first. Not sure why that happens but it does.
    Wendy
    W.S. Gager on Writing

    Reply

  2. Hi, Wendy. When writing first person it isn’t easy to stray into another person’s viewpoint. I also know not everyone agrees with me about POV, but I always think as a writer we should do what makes it easiest for the reader. I hate it when I’m reading a book and I have no idea who the story is coming from.

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  3. When I entered my first writing contest I had no idea what POV was, and that was pointed out by the judges! It took me a long time to finally figure it out, but now that I have I write two series, one in first and the other in third.

    I dislike reading the omniscient POV. It drives me crazy. As for head hopping, one well known author does it with ease, but I still avoid her books for that reason. Maybe I should reconsider!

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  4. Learning what POV was took me a long time too, but once it clicked in, it’s never left me even for a second. One of my blogs in this tour–offhand I don’t remember who has it–I hit on POV also, and gave some examples of what it is. I don’t like the omniscient pov either, same reason as for you, Anne. It just makes me crazy and it’s seldom all that well done.

    And as for reconsidering trying that author’s books, why? She doesn’t need your money or mine, or any of thousands of people she drives crazy with her head hopping. Read (and write) what you like, that’s my motto. 😉

    Reply

  5. Very good post, Marilyn. I also hate head hopping. It seems sloppy and amateurish to me as well. I write third person POV because I have two protagonists, but I’d like to write a first POV one of these days.

    Reply

  6. Thanks for your observations about POV, Beth, Anne and Jean. And thanks, Beth, for hosting me today.

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  7. Marilyn, I agree that POV is a tricky but essential ingredient of good writing. You put it well.

    Reply

  8. Marilyn,
    I love multiple points of view IF they’re well done. I love to know what the heroine and hero and villian are thinking. However, I always pick one main one to carry a book, and very carefully set up the other two, if and when I feel the need to switch. I’m getting better at it. By the time I’ve written as many as you, I may change my mind. 🙂

    Reply

  9. Thanks, Johns, that’s my take on POV anyway.

    Connie, I should have mentioned that romance writers often use multiple points of view in the same scene–but seem to be able to make it work.

    I do use multiple POVx in my other series, but only one per scene.

    Reply

  10. Great exposition on POV, Marilyn. That was a hard concept for me to grasp at first.

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  11. Very well stated, Marilyn, and I agree with you all the way.

    Reply

  12. Folks, thank you for the great comments, and thank you so much, Marilyn, for visiting here and helping us all out with your knowledge. I’ve lost count of your books but I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read and I hope you continue to write and have fun at it along with Hap for many, many more years. XOXO Beth

    Reply

  13. This is definitely one of the trickier aspects of writing. I love the Writer’s Digest book on POV–by Bell, is it? Have to go look for that again.

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  14. Alice, I had no idea what POV even meant when I first started writing, and it took a lot for my critique group to finally get it through my thick skull.

    Thanks, Earl.

    Jenny, thanks for mentioning that book, maybe someone who read this might like to get it for more clarification.

    Thank you so much for hosting me today, Beth. And hugs and kisses back at you.

    Reply

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