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The POV Bane

I remember when I first saw the letters POV. Actually, I can’t remember the exact moment, but I remember that after having seen it frequently, I had missed yet another texting shortcut somehow. Finally I either asked or read someone say the full three words and put two and two together. I might’ve thought it was something else rather funny, because I normally do when I first see texting shortcuts, but I have forgotten if I did.

Anyway, Point Of View is the bane of my writer’s existence. (Yes, I DO actually exist even when not existing as a writer) At first, I didn’t know this. (The POV killer, that is) I mean, I knew the basics of course. I’m writing in the first person right now. He is writing in the second person in this sentence, and Nathanael is now writing in the third person. However, there are apparently differences in these. Now I don’t know all the techno-mumbo-jumbo stuff, but I will share what I learned and my issues. One thing I apparently like to do a lot is use the 3rd person omniscient too often, even reverting back to it and using it when focusing on a certain character’s POV. (Third person omniscient is basically your know-all, see-all narrator)

I have to remember, preferably when writing, that if a character can’t feel it, see it, hear it, or think it, I shouldn’t be writing it. Oh, and the incessant POV hopping can be confusing. I have to stick with a character for a scene. This means I have to prioritize my characters. *quickly slams shut the door before characters can escape and locks it. Pounding shakes the door* It almost feels like a shame really. Each character has their own story, and each would like it told…it’s one of the reasons I’ll have story ideas for years to come. And that’s how I have to console myself. One day it will be that character’s turn and I’ll write their story. For today though, I must stick with whom I originally decided to stick with, Daniel Grant and his crew, the SSDF. Sadly, I may have to cut a big part of a mini thread because of this. *the buzz of a saw against the metal door now fills the room*

If you’re a fiction writer as well, do you have a lot of characters pressing you to tell their story at the same time? How do you persuade yourself to just stick with one or a select few?

About Nathanael Scott

Nathanael Scott has been an enthusiastic reader of a variety of genres for as far back as he can remember, his favorite being science fiction. He uses writing to let loose his imagination in a way that glorifies God and benefits others. If you can’t get hold of him, he’s probably in outer space piloting a starfighter on a mission to save your life. He is the author of Though Storms May Rage, a sci-fi novel that is currently in revision.

8 comments on “The POV Bane

  1. Ah, yes, how well I know the POV bane!
    I look back at some of my earlier work and can’t decide whether to giggle or vomit, my POV is so jumbled! I’ve more or less figured it out, though, and while I do tend to have everyone wanting to tell their stories, I have managed to make them do it one at a time. 🙂

  2. One of my favorite tricks, is to think of POV as a camera. Third person limited, is a camera on the end of a boom tracking with one character. First person limited, that’s a shoulder mounted camera (which without the aide of a steady cam can give a reader motion sickness) and omniscient narration? That’s a tall cam or a helicopter cam, good for establishing wide shots, but dizzy making for a reader if it goes on without a break.

    Bryan Davis has some amazing tips for keeping your character in character too, without jarring the reader out of it. Example:

    Third Person Limited:

    INCORRECT:
    Ted’s cheeks were red as he looked at the pictures of himself in a clown suit. Ted can’t know that his cheeks are red, unless he’s looking in a mirror (or down at them).
    CORRECT:
    Ted’s cheeks heated as he looked at the pictures of himself in a clown suit.

  3. Actually, the second person is “you” … not used much in fiction at all 😛 For an example of that, see Ren’s “Renegade Project” from this site last year.

    • Yep… and it was WEIRD to write in… I’m a third person writer, so I constantly tripped up and had to correct it while working on that thing. I have two stories I’m attempting in 1st person past and I struggle with that. I remember frustrating my teacher when I was a kid writing my “autobiography” in 3rd person. lol

      In my books, I’ve been one of those wanna-visit-everybody’s-head types in my early stuff. I know well the temptation to head hop, especially at certain points in a story. However, over the years, I’ve actually evolved into one of those reviewers that will, um, highly recommend condensing down characters (did a blog post on here a while back about my recovering addiction to characters and tips of dealing with them).

      In Forger of Dreams I had a bunch of POV characters, almost little vinettes on some where you saw in their head once or twice. In Dragon Seal I firmly limited myself to 2 pov characters. In the sequel I have only added one more pov.

      My current POV bane? My empathetic who is supposed to be sensitive to the emotions of everyone around her. Yeah, never fails that the first time I try to ease into that ability reviewers complain of POV betrayal. Then when they know what’s up, they rarely have many suggestions… like dreams, years ago I probably would have love the “excuse”, but it’s hard to actually do well. Regular povs are so much easier.

      Wonderful topic Nathanael. Thanks.

  4. Wow. I meant to write ‘you’. Thanks Grace. 🙂 That’s what I get for writing this at 1am or later. and I have not ever read it in fiction, but I figured anything is possible. xD

  5. I like the camera picture Michelle. Great thought for keeping omniscient pov in check. That example from Mr. Davis is very similar to an example Millard gave me when giving me extremely helpful critism of a small excerpt of my work. 🙂 Something I have to train myself to remember.

  6. I’d appreciate a link Ren if it’s not too much trouble. 🙂 I have a really hard time with 1st person, both past and present. 2nd person is unimaginable for me. I’m also a third person writer. Lol, that’s funny. xD 3rd person autobiography-epic! 🙂 I’ve done shorts in which I tried to limit myself to 1 or 2 POVs. I used that experience to attempt a novel using only 2 POVs. Turns out I’ll be weaving a story from the past in with the present so I’ll be increasing it to 3 POVs. But I’m currently working on my novel, Though Storms May Rage, and I have many POVs in it. Here’s a question I would pose to you-is it more acceptable to have multiple POVs if you split the book into 2 or more books, thereby limiting the number of POVs, as certain show up only in certain “part”s of the book. (Yes, I could easily divide my book into 2, even 3 small novels, something I’ll be talking to the publisher I’m looking at when finished with the rewrite.)

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