As we will be discussing POV on The Write Nook for several weeks, it’s important that you first understand POV. (It stands for Point of View.) The most important thing to remember is that each scene needs to be written in ONE person’s POV. No head-hopping allowed, people. That means, until you you have a scene break or chapter break, you cannot under any circumstances hop into someone else’s POV. (No thinking in someone else’s head.)
For instance, if Becca, Darcie, Kayla, and Kim were all in a room discussing Write-Nook business and let’s say that someone was watching this unfold and decided to write it down like the scene in a novel. If they wrote:
Kim looked around the room at the other Write-Nook staff of writers. How could she be so blessed to be a part of such an incredible group? (So, we are in Kim’s head, right?)
The conversation turned to personal discussion once they’d covered all the business. Each face was so dear to her, they’d shared a lot in this little group. But Becca stopped talking and appeared perplexed. Did she forget her laundry again? Kayla’s expression was priceless and–as her mom–Kim could almost read her thoughts and tried not to giggle along with her. But Darcie, on the other hand, looked like she had something to hide… hmmm… what could it be? (Okay, we’re still in Kim’s head… got it?)
The truth was, Darcie was about to explode having to keep her secret. (Whoa… wait a minute? How did we get into Darcie’s head? We shouldn’t be, we were in Kim’s head and Kim can’t possibly know that Darcie is about to explode about a secret. That… is head-hopping. And a no-no. Do you get it?)
Now… on to the next part of this post – How to make a POV distinct.
Once you make sure that all your scenes are only in one person’s POV and you confirm that you have a scene break or chapter break to signify that before you change POVs, THEN you can think about the next part of the puzzle: Making each person distinct.
Just like in real life, we don’t all act and talk the same. So our characters in our books cannot sound and act the same. They need to come alive through the written word, so you have to show that they are distinct and different. Here’s some things to think about to make a POV distinct.
1 – A character could have a set of their “favorite” words that they use all the time or their own specific vocabulary.. (Think “valley girl” for a moment, how would one talk? “Like… did you know that I like… almost ran into a poodle on the sidewalk… like.. just a minute ago? I almost died, like… literally.” It’s a ridiculous illustration but you get the gist.) Personally, if someone were to write ME – I know I use superlatives when I talk, email, and text… a lot.
2 – A character could have an accent that is distinct. (i.e. a Southerner would say, “y’all” a lot. Foreign languages could have use of their distinct words or ways of speech, for instance, the French end a lot of their sentences with “oui?” as they are asking a question and looking for an affirmative answer. A Scottish brogue might have an “Aye, Lass…” in their speech, the list can go on and on.)
3 – A character could have a crazy little quirk… it could affect their actions or their speech, or even both. For instance, they could use made-up words. Or they could blush whenever anyone’s attention is on them. Or they could hiccup when they are nervous.
4 – A character’s vocabulary might revolve around their favorite thing or even their job. (Another thing to think about: Men don’t tend to use a lot of words, so don’t have a male character go on and on and on and on about something – UNLESS that’s going to be a unique and wacky personality trait that you can portray in the book.) If your character is a mechanic, every conversation could revolve around cars, or that could be how they illustrate everything–with a mechanic’s vocabulary comparing everything to such and such an engine. etc. Personally, I could talk about pretty much any topic and relate it to music or writing.
5 – A character’s emotions could be in everything or absent from everything. Show that in the POV. They could be an emotionally distant person – if they ARE, then you must show that in the narrative. (Hint, the POV will actually feel and read distant!) What if they get into an uproar about just about anything? Make everything dramatic? Show that!
6 – A character could be shallow in their dialogue but deep in their thoughts. Or they could be shallow both ways, or deep both ways. Make a decision about how you want to portray them and then put that good brain of yours to use and figure out HOW to make them appear on the page that way.
7 – Study character types and think about how to write those types.
For an illustration, I was going to use scenes from our book NO SAFE HAVEN – because it has some incredibly unique and distinct POVs, but this post got too long, so I’m going to challenge you to watch the movie – ENCHANTED. If you’ve already seen it, you know what I’m talking about. Think about each character and their unique and distinct POV.
Now, get to work and write a distinct POV.
With pen to paper,