Thursday, September 4, 2008

What is important about POV?

The secret to dragging a reader into a story and immersing them in the Fantasy world is to master at least one Point of View. The Character driven POV is useful to the writer when they need to include the reader in the action.

Now Point of View and Passive writing can actually cause the same problems. The problem is distancing the reader. So using a POV that works and that a writer is confident with can make the difference between a winning story and a yawn.

If the author does not succeed in describing, filling the reader's imagination, or giving enough information to keep them turning pages, it can often be due to a failure in using a workable POV.

An author should avoid at all costs anything that separates the reader from the POV character. Editing for this error is difficult. It means finding any instance where the author has backed away from the main character.

A useful analogy is to think of a cameraman filming a scene. To begin the shoot the camera angle would be wide lens giving an overview for the audience. Once established the camera would close in. Zooming in to focus on the characters and create empathy with them. As the scene continues the camera can be used to create tension, conflict or to establish how the main character is feeling. It is only able to relate what is SEEN or what the character believes. The camera cannot tell what other characters are thinking. Neither can the main character when using this POV. If a camera cannot SEE a thought, neither can the character. To suddenly read minds is to change POV and will distance the reader.

It is important with character driven POV to only reveal the thoughts and reactions of the main character. Actions and emotions of other characters can be described as if seen by the main character, but they must be interpreted through the main character's eyes.

When the narrator intrudes on the story, imposing their own thoughts or beliefs the reader is suddenly distanced. They no longer have the intimacy of being inside the main character's head, they are suddenly being told what is happening. This is called Author Intrusive narration.

There are many different types of POV. For example in fiction, writers are able to use: effaced omniscient narrator, limited omniscient narrator, restrictive omniscient narrator or third person character narrator. The temptation to write in first person also exists, First person POV has several styles all of its own.

I have trouble with POV. Hence the length of the discussion here. Trying to understand the various different styles, gives me a headache. Reading published authors who seem to head hop or change POV confuses me. I have tried to master the character driven pov. I don't know that I have managed to as yet, but readers comment that they feel as though they are involved and in the story, so I guess that's a good sign.

Good luck and keep writing.

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