Saturday Guest Post contributed by Author April Grey – Saturday, May 10, 2014
Mastery of point of view (POV) is important to all writing; however, I feel that some genres need to have the POV reach deeper under the skin than others. Both horror and romance appeal to the emotions (note how these genres are named after emotions-AHA) and require readers to get lost in the feelings of terror or love generated by the story.
In comparison, science fiction and mysteries might be seen as more appealing to the mind. A distant POV where the reader is trailing behind the character like a steady-cam or drone can be effective. It has a chilling quality. The reader is kept outside the body of the main character. He/She is held at arm’s length, is distanced. And in any writing a combination of POV depths is highly recommended.
Still, for romance and horror you want to dive down deep into the character. Readers need to feel, taste, smell, hear and see what is happening to the character in order to experience it for themselves.
Here are two quick tips to help you wiggle under that character’s skin. To be sure there are many more techniques, whole books have been written on POV, but I’m keeping this short .
- Use all five of the senses. Too often we are told about the world through sight and sound. By using the sense of smell, taste and touch, it’s like being on the holodeck of the Enterprise. This comes back to the (in)famous, “show don’t tell” writers are told. Chekov (Anton—not Pavel) said it best: Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. Even better, don’t rely on sight alone, let your character feel that glass crunch under his feet maybe have a shard pierce the sole of your character’s shoe. Make you want to cringe, doesn’t it?
- Remove the filters in your writing. Much of this technique is a matter of deleting tags. Once you are firmly established in a character’s viewpoint throwing in: he could see, he saw, he could feel, he felt, he thought, he wondered, etc. becomes unnecessary and only serve to remind your reader that he’s reading. These unnecessary verbs, which do have a habit of creeping in, takes the reader away from the deep viewpoint you want.
Also, removing the filters streamlines your writing, making it lean and mean. Any direct thought can be expressed in italics.
As mentioned above, there may be times in your writing when you do want to draw back. Finding the right balance is a matter of practice but also paying attention to other writers and seeing how they create their own effects. Most of all, as a writer, you need to experience what the character is feeling. Your heart needs to pound and your mouth needs to go dry. Gosh, isn’t it amazing that fear can create the same symptoms as love? But you don’t want your reader to be inundated with non-stop throbbing pulses and surges of adrenaline. Find the right balance between these scenes of intense excitement and pulling back. There’s a rhythm to be found in any work.
Summing up, though you want to remove the filters (tags) you still need to filter everything through your POV character. Your female lead may notice different things than a male one, keep in mind how different characters perceive the world differently. This is the filter which you need.