Lesson Seventeen from a Manuscript Red Line: Who are we talking to?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

We’ve been on Point of View for a little while now.  No need to break a trend.  This particular publisher harped on it a lot, so here I am passing their wisdom on to you.  The next POV comment they made was to make sure it is immediately obvious when you start a chapter whose POV you are in.

I was a little surprised by this.  One of the things that I admired in the Gold Mine Manuscript, was the beautiful imagery.  The author is so much better at building the “view” of the scene for a reader than I am.  The problem is, that she did it in the beginning of the chapter.  As a reader, you would have to get through the entire description of the room before you found out who was in it.

Honestly, I never even considered this a problem.  I liked it so much, that I even tried a few on my own.  It sounded weird in my novel, though.  My natural instinct was to write “Harris stepped into the room.  Pink cascades of fabric surrounded him.”  Rather than:  “Pink cascades of fabric swirled along the walls, dipping and spinning before the etched windows…etc , etc.

Both of these two examples tell you there was pink fabric hanging from the walls.  One just tells you that Harris was in the room.  This publisher prefers the first example.

This is really not a tough fix.  If you have a flowery, beautiful beginning (Good for you, I stink at this)  Anyway… keep your imagery, but introduce the POV character who is seeing the scene, so we know whose “head” we are in.

Happy editing!

Jennifer Eaton

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6 responses to “Lesson Seventeen from a Manuscript Red Line: Who are we talking to?

  1. Pingback: Lesson Thirty from a Manuscript Red Line: Finale! Summing it all up | Jennifer M Eaton

  2. Grats on the Versitile blogger award, well deserved. In my latest WIP (The junk I wrote for Nanowrimo) I have about 10 POV’s. I may change the whole thing to 1st person,

  3. Hey, Jennifer! Congrats on the Versatile Blogger Award. I totally agree with Derek.

    Brinda, my MG (which I mismatched with the YA market) is first person. I plan to keep it first person because I find myself getting too stilted in 3rd for my character’s age. My Contemporary Romances are 3rd POV.

    Great advice on anchoring the reader in POV before (or with) setting. I have no problem with POV first b/c I struggle with effective scene descriptions. And, I am CONSTANTLY on the alert for head-hopping. I can spot it in books I read, so I’m a POV Nazi in my own work.

    LOVE Margie Lawson’s EDITS coloring system to check for balance on setting, internalization, action, dialog and visceral reactions. Green (setting) is the highlighter I use least when I color a first draft.

    Yet another rocking post!

  4. I’ve chosen you for the Versatile Blogger award, which is pretty cool. Read about the details here! http://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/blogging-versatility-and-7-random-facts/

  5. I’ve written two books in first person. I have another manuscript I’m in the middle of at the moment with POV issues since I decided to try third person POV. I hope to work on it during this holiday and remedy my head-hopping.