Point of View – Trust your Senses

Do you have trouble staying in point of view? Or do even wonder what POV you are in? When I first wrote, I followed the ‘old rules’ and used an omniscient third person point of view. That allows the writer to dip into the thoughts of each character to let the reader know what’s going on.

The only trouble is, that POV is not as acceptable to most publishers these days. They want strict first or third person POV.

So how does one stay in one point of view and not stray out of it?

Become the character. What is he touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting? He can’t see his curly brown hair, or dark brown eyes. He doesn’t know his sister has slipped in behind him and is getting ready to poke him in the armpits. So you can’t write about that – at least, not until he starts and howls when it happens.

He doesn’t experience boiling rage of the man standing across from him, but he can see the anger flash in the man’s eyes. He can’t feel the stab of pain the little girl feels as she steps on the shard of a shell at the beach, but he can see her grab her foot, fall to the sand, and cry.

Put yourself in your character’s shoes – or rather, his body. Could you know that, feel that, see that? If not, he can’t either.

originally published in The Sword Review 2005-06-19

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