Monday, August 19, 2013

Crash POV: It Ain't Show And Tell, Folks

Telling and Point of View

Some time ago, I wrote a post on Telling vs. Showing in your writing. It still amazes me that this is even an issue in writing, and yet, I have bought published books from new authors where "telling" is rampant (never mind that it got past an editor that way) and shouldn't be. An instance here and there throughout a non-first-person work is unavoidable and (sometimes, for artistic reasons) necessary. You may want to distance your reader for a moment, for a few reasons. But not - please, Lord - for the entire length of a manuscript that is not written in first-person POV (Point of View). A novel, especially a romance, with telling filling each of its pages does its reader no favors. Readers of romance love the genre because it puts us in the heads of the characters and, as they fall in love, we fall in love.

The reason for this is that, in a well-written book, we readers are the characters. A masterful writer will cut away all the barriers that prevent us from actively taking part in a character's adventures. Instead of telling us "She was kissing him," - there's that WAS - "She kissed him." That 'was' is gone entirely. Sometimes, it's as simple as that. It's taking away that last barrier - you, observing the action and reporting it to your reader - and instead, just letting the character DO the thing, and letting your reader see it for herself.

Deep POV is a difficult concept for new writers. There are levels of closeness between a reader and a character in a novel. I'll get into that in my next post or two. It's an important skill for a writer, and well worth knowing its nuances. I've seen otherwise terrific books fall short of their potential because of "shallow POV." So, coming up in my next blog, I'll try to illustrate the difference to you writers out there, looking to brush up your know-how.

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