getting your reader into your character’s head
A fellow writer asked recently how to get deeper into your character’s point of view.
As I answered the query, I thought, why not share this in my column?
One thing many writers do is inadvertently distance their readers from their characters while striving to get their readers closer. They don’t realize they’re shooting themselves in the foot. And here’s one of the main ways they do it: thought tags.
Thought tags are just that. Tags used to mark a character’s thoughts: he realized, she thought, he supposed.
He realized it was getting late.
He blinked at the sun. It was getting late.
Also, such things as ‘she heard’ and ‘he saw’ often fall into this category.
Her gaze swept the room and she saw her bracelet on the floor by the fireplace.
Her gaze swept the room, ah, there was her bracelet – on the floor by the fireplace.
If we’re in that character’s POV, why do we need all the tags to remind the reader? Use them sparingly, because they do distance the reader from the character.
originally published in The Sword Review 2007-05-26