Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crash POV: Deep Point of View

Deep Point Of View is the closest your reader can get to your character. Where action is the key to medium point of view, emotion and sensation are the keys to deep point of view, and a real reader-character bond.
Everyone emotes, every day. We also see, hear, touch, smell, and taste every day. It's not even conscious. So when your character emotes or senses things, right there on the page, your reader will connect with it in a very visceral way - provided it's done right. As a writer, you need to let the character do the emoting and sensing things from his environment, and stay discreetly out of the picture.

She's late. Maybe she's not coming ... again. Maybe she hates me. Tugging at his strangling shirt collar, John waited, still standing, at the edge of the picnic blanket. Sweat trickled down back of his neck, tickling, and the smell of the fresh-cut grass choked what little air he could breathe. Then he saw Mary, hurrying toward him with a smile and a picnic basket of her own. Her grin sent his heartbeat banging against his ribs until he thought it would knock him over. She knelt on the blanket, apologizing for her cancellations of their previous dates because of a deadline at work, but who cared about that? She's here, and she wants to be with me. Look at that smile! John knew already that he'd forgiven her.

Maybe not the best example ever, but you'll notice a few key differences in this scene from the ones I presented previously. John is now thinking and reacting to environmental stimuli. I am not telling you that it's hot out and he's nervous. He's just sweating, and you can see it for yourself. You've been given a glimpse into John's head through internal monologue, and through his physical reactions to emotional stresses. These are the hallmarks of deep POV.

Remember that deep POV can get exhausting, just as repetition anywhere in your manuscript can get tiring (or worse, boring). You don't want to overuse deep POV. Save it for the most emotionally charged scenes, or love scenes, if you're a romance writer. Those are the moments when you want that reader-character closeness.

I hope that now, I've helped you understand the levels of point of view a bit more. If not, feel free to drop me a line with your questions. Happy writing!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book News: FLASHPOINT Under Contract!

My editor got back to me this morning with the news that FLASHPOINT, Book Two in the Gifted Series, has been given a contract! The book will most likely be out next year, but for now, I'll leave you with an excerpt:

Excerpt from FLASHPOINT:

Hakon stared after Faith, wondering what was wrong. The woman switched gears fast enough to make his head spin. He locked his vehicle, and then stalked down the trail after her.

She strode ahead of him, dodging ruts and potholes. Her hips swayed with each step in a compelling rhythm. In spite of himself, he imagined drawing her back against him, kissing that spot behind her ear where tendrils of golden hair had fallen loose ....

She stopped dead, and turned around with wide eyes. Had he said something out loud? He thought he'd seen something flash in her eyes a moment ago. There it was again, though before, he could have sworn her eyes had been silver -

"Aren't you supposed to be in front of me?" she asked.

Desire and doubt vanished. Nettled, he stepped around her, and went on without pausing. "Next time, let me break the trail first. Clear?"

"Get up on the wrong side of the bed?"

He didn't bother telling her he hadn't slept at all on his last night in a comfortable bed. Her presence had echoed through the walls of the inn like a resonating bell, one moment consuming him with the need to go to her, and the next, driving him away in a fit of resentment.

She was money. His ticket to freedom, nothing more. She was here, and so was he, and like it or not, they'd entered into an agreement. He'd guide her to a few ancient rock paintings, and she'd pay up when they returned to civilization. The faster they finished, the better.

Maybe if he kept telling himself that, he might start to believe it.

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!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Crash POV: Shallow Point Of View

Today I'm going to talk about Point Of View, or POV, in your writing. Point Of View is, in a nutshell, who is telling the story. Romances are usually told from the hero/heroine's point of view, and POV can change from scene to scene. In this way, your reader gets a taste of how it feels to be that hero or heroine, experiencing the events of the story. The "depth" of POV in your writing is affected largely by your use of "Telling" vs. "Showing". (For the refresher on Telling vs. Showing, click here.)

As I've mentioned before, there are levels of POV in writing, and you may choose among them for the best punch in your story. In romance, a deeper POV is preferable. The more you bring a reader "inside" a character's head, the more emotionally invested he or she will be in the story. Remember that even while we prefer deeper POV in romance, it can get emotionally exhausting, so it can and should be varied - but definitely use it in your most critical scenes (first kisses, love scenes, black moments, etc.). Below is a picture that will provide the setting for a short example of shallow POV in writing.

John was getting impatient. The wind was warm and rippled softly over the river, but it was still cool in the shady spots under the tree. Mary had stood him up for their picnic. He hated that he'd given her a last-chance date. Every time he'd booked reservations at a nice restaurant, she'd pulled a no-show.  He wondered why he kept trying with her.  At least sandwiches didn't cost much.

As you can see, all the information is there: character, setting, and conflict. Unfortunately, the reader is on the outside looking in. We are told of John's frustrations, but it's not the same as empathizing with him. There is no "punch" in this writing, because of its emotional distance. Fixing this is a matter of your wording. Next time, we'll try this scene again, with a medium POV.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Congratulations to Linda W., Winner of the "Hot Fun in the Summertime" Contest!

Congratulations to Linda W. of Georgia, winner of this year's "Hot Fun in the Summertime" contest! Linda gets her choice of one of my current books in PDF format: EARTH, WATER, or my brand-new paranormal romance, THE SERPENT IN THE STONE!

Congrats again to Linda, and Happy Reading!

Next Up: More on POV in your writing!