Friday, May 1, 2009

Point of View Trick

Wow--it's Friday already! Hope you all have fabulous plans for the weekend!

Today, I'm going to share with you a little point of view trick I keep up my sleeve. If your book is written in first person, this tip won't help! But I'm guessing you don't have any point of view (POV) issues if you're writing in first person.

If you write in third person, either in one point of view or multiples, consider trying this for at least one scene.

Read the scene in first person.

First person? What are you talking about? It's written in third...duh!

It's easy if you try it. Let's say the scene you're reading is written in a woman's POV. Let's call her Jasmine. Simply pretend you're in her head when you're reading. Mentally replace every "she" and "Jasmine" with "me" or "I."

Why do this? It will point out any areas that you've shifted POV. Let's say the scene contains two characters: Jasmine and her mother. You can't very well be Jasmine and her mother at the same time.

Here's an example.

"You look tired. What on earth are you wearing?" Her mother shook her head and eyed her in disapproval. "When are you going to get your act together?"

Jasmine sighed. Her mother never failed to get on her nerves.

"I like my outfit," Jasmine said, looking down at her frayed jeans and tight tank top.

"Well, I don't!" Her mom spun on her heel and walked to the door. Why did Jasmine insist on looking like a hobo?

The above scene is written in third person from Jasmine's POV. I'll rewrite it below in first person so you can see where the POV shift takes place. Remember, you don't actually have to rewrite the scene in first person; you just have to mentally read the scene in first person.

"You look tired. What on earth are you wearing?" My mother shook her head and eyed me in disapproval. "When are you going to get your act together?"

I sighed. My mother never failed to get on my nerves.
"I like my outfit," I said, looking down at my frayed jeans and tight tank top.
"Well, I don't!" My mom spun on her heel and walked to the door.
Why did I insist on looking like a hobo? (The line in red is a slip in POV. It's actually in her mother's head. This will jump out at you when you replace Jasmine with I.)

The technique is great for catching less obvious slip-ups too, like telling something the POV character couldn't possibly know.

Try it. You might like it. If not, well, you don't have to do it again!

Do you have little tricks to keep your POV's straight? Or do you write in whatever point of view suits your mood? Some of my favorite authors don't follow the current trend of staying in one point of view per scene, so I certainly don't think it's a cut and dried topic! I prefer to stay in one per scene because I think it adds more depth to the characters. I'd love to hear from you.

Enjoy your weekend!


  1. I'm actually writing my third book in first person POV - which I've never done before. I'm thinking about changing it to third during revision since I'm not confident I have a really distinct voice for all three POV characters. At least if I do this, I'll know there are no POV slip-ups.

  2. Good Morning, Jill. I've heard of this trick before. It is a great one if you have a tendancy to slip. I tend to get so into my character's head that the body parts start flowing, not the POV shifting. I so need to learn to keep my characters eyes in their sockets.

  3. Good morning!

    Katie: I've written short stories in first person but no books, and I've never written multiple points of view first person. My hats off to you! It sounds like a fun challenge.

    Eileen: Those roving body parts... I have a terrible habit of over-the-top mannerisms. My characters can't just sigh. Oh no, they have to let out a deep exhalation through their nose while rolling their eyes.

    Trust me; I'm working on it. Is there therapy for this disorder? Ha! Ha!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Good morning Jill! Happy for the sunshine this morning after all of the rain!!

    I just love your tip!! I've never thought of doing that before, but it makes perfect sense. I usually don't have too many POV issues (at least that my editor has caught!). When I write I "get" into my character very deeply. It's as if I'm that character while I write that scene. So usually I only struggle with the POV when I'm doing a transitional narration to the next scene. And I don't have many of those because I usually cut to the next scene.

    Have a great weekend!

  5. What a fantastic idea - thanks! I'll give it a whirl. Happy, happy weekend :)

  6. Very nice trick!

    I tend to write in omniscient third with the POVs alternating by chapter. It feels so much like I'm writing in first person, that sometimes I will slip up and find myself writing in first person!

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  8. What an awesome trick! I do this in my planning stage (or did with my first book and should have with my second), but instead write a "journal entry" in first person from each character in the novel, whether or not they have a POV. This doesn't accomplish the wonderful things your little trick accomplishes, but it made me think of what I have done in the past - writing the "journal entries"

    It helps with finding the motivations for each character, and really puts you in their shoes.

    I really do love this idea. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I'd never heard of this trick before! It's great! I think it could be a big help to third person POV writers, and I happen to be one of those. And, it always makes me happy when I hear that others are writing in seems to be less represented these days.

  10. Sunshine! Sunshine! I live in a very cloudy portion of the world, so excuse me while I leap in the air for joy!

    Okay. Got that out of my system.

    Jody: I think we all have our strengths and it sounds like POV is one of yours. One less thing to worry about, right? I'll bet your book keeps readers glued to it. Deep POV really keeps readers' attention.

    Tess: Happy, Happy Weekend to you too! I'm ready for it!

    Windsong: That's awesome! It sounds like you know your characters inside and out.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Lady Glamis: Journal Entries? My brain is churning out the possibilities and liking it. I might have to try it for my next scene. Thanks for the tip!

    Davin: Yes, the first person exploded again recently, didn't it? Since I write romance, I write in two POV's with most of my books. Occasionally I'll write from only one POV but not very often. I can't take credit for the tip--and I can't even give credit to the person who came up with it because I don't remember where I found it! (Writing craft book? Blog? Writer friend? Uggh...Bad me...)

    Have a lovely weekend!

  12. A very good tip! I write in third person mostly and change POV by the chapter to keep it clearer.

  13. all the hype you built up for your tip was worth it! awesome idea. i write in first a lot, though...but i'll def. use it when i do third!

  14. Terri: I enjoy reading books where the POV switches each chapter!

    Jeannie: Thanks! The last book I revised, I read the entire thing this way. It helped show me where I needed more emotion too. (Sending you happy packing thoughts:))

    Have a fantastic weekend!


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