Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crash POV: Medium Point Of View

As promised, today I'll continue my talks on POV, or Point Of View, in your writing. Last time, we talked about shallow POV, the most distant aspect of point of view. Generally, this is not desirable, since it distances your character from her reader. Your reader wants to be a part of the action - involved in the character's struggles. It's hard to do that when you're telling the reader what she should be sensing about the character, instead of letting the character act it out for her, and letting your reader discover the character's feelings on her own through what's happening.

Remember our scene with John at the river? I recommend re-reading it, and then turning back to this entry to read its edited version. We'll now rewrite it with a medium, or middle, point of view - a bit farther into the character's head this time.

John paced along the riverbank, checking his watch. He retreated out of the hot sun, into the shady patch of grass where he'd laid a picnic lunch...for which Mary hadn't arrived. He swore right then to himself, he wouldn't give her any more second chances. Sighing, he watched the ice shifting and melting in its glass tea jar.
You can see right away that this scene has none of those keywords of telling - was, looked, felt, or seemed. Character, setting, and conflict are still there, but now we have some color. That's because I chose to let John show you how impatient and disappointed he is, rather than just telling you so. He's pacing and checking the time, which we all do when we are impatient. He's interacting with the environment, showing you where he is and what's there. I am not telling the story. John is.

Acting is the key to medium or middle POV. Your characters will tell the story, if you let them, by allowing them to act out the scenes for themselves. Readers are smart - smarter than you think - and they will discern what's happening and how a character is feeling by what he does. Your job is to present that character's actions in such a way that it's clear how he feels. You need to be able to let go of the reins, and let the character do the driving.

Next time, I'll re-write this scene again using deep POV, and you'll see the sharp contrast!

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