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!



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

  1. Never considered that it would help to know who is viewing the scene – that person’s mindset may also determine the order of objects seen and the amount/type of details noticed? Something to ponder now for sure. Great hint

  2. Reblogged this on KRISTINA STANLEY and commented:
    Before You Submit: Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

    This week, I’m reblogging a post from Jennifer Eaton. She’s talking about how to start a scene and let the reader know who has the point of view. Her explanation is so clear, I thought I’d share it with you. Thanks Jennifer 🙂

  3. Another awesome point. I think I try to do that but must do a run through to be certain. Thanks, Jennifer.

  4. I too prefer the flowery extensive scene description. For me I always liked being brought into the scene as an outsider, getting an idea of what is around before I get into the character’s head – the reason is because in having the entire scene revealed, when I do find out whose eyes I am seeing it through – I have a much better understanding of that character based on what parts of the scene they pay attention to or how they react to it.