Tag Archives: point of view switching

Lesson Twenty-Eight from a Manuscript Red Line: Very Discreet Point of View Switches

I’ve talked about this before, but the second time might be a charm.  I think a lot of people are having trouble with discreet POV switches.  The big ones… where we pop heads for half a chapter are easy to find.  The one-liners may be harder to spot.

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.

Let’s go back to my little flash fiction scene.  Remember Jason and Eric fighting?  Let’s add a line to that.  (In bold)

Jason grunted as his fist swung toward Eric’s face.  Eric tried to dodge, but instead felt the sting of the older boy’s ring cutting into his jaw.  He fell to the floor with a muffled thump, and groaned as he rolled over. 

Jason wiped his chin and laughed.  “I told you to stay down.”

Eric pushed up onto his knees.  “Why, so you can just pummel me?”  He popped up and swung at Jason, but missed.

Jason ducked and swung at the same time.  There was no time for Eric to react.  His head creaked back, and his jaw rattled as he crumpled to the floor.

Jason breathed heavily, mopping the sweat from his brow.  He grunted and chose his words carefully.  “I told you to stay down, idiot.”  He snickered at the pitiful scene before him, and walked away.

There you have a short-one paragraph POV switch.  The scene is in Eric’s POV.  How would Eric know Jason was choosing his words carefully?  How would Eric know he was snickering at how pitiful he looked?  (Remember Peanut butter and Jelly Syndrome?)  Jason could have just remembered a funny joke.  Eric has no idea what he is really thinking.

The reason I used “Chose his words carefully” which might be a little odd in the example above, was because those were the words used in the POV switch in the Gold Mine Manuscript.  We were in character #1’s POV, and then another character “chose his words carefully”.  They flagged it as a POV switch.

Honestly, before reading their comments, I would have read right over this… I have also seen it in published works, but it is a switch in POV.  Do your best to keep an eye out for little things like this.  It will set your novel apart.

Hope this helps!

 

What silly mistake did you Beta Reader find this week? Mild POV Switches

In writing Last Winter Red (Writing to a Deadline) I had one sentence that I KNEW was a POV switch.  I read it several times, I knew I had to delete it, but I just couldn’t get the feel I wanted without it.  This is the line:

“Sara sat at the end of the table, quietly enjoying the exchange.”

Now, the problem with this line is the entire novelette is written in Emily’s POV.  This, if you’ll notice, is Sara’s POV.  What I wanted to do in this line, is express that the little girl, Sara is excited that her friend Emily is suddenly getting along with her Dad. (She is observing their conversation)

So I decided to leave the line, and sent it out to my beta readers.  Would you believe that five for five of them read right over it?  That is how subtle POV switches can be.

Then, of course, the anally talented Ravena drops in with a last-minute beta read.  (I mean that lovingly by the way… I count on her for that—um, being anal— not late.  :-))

I think she actually cackled… “Ha!  Got you!  POV switch!  You yell at me for this all the time!”

You know what was really funny about this?  After I stopped laughing about her response, I looked at the sentence again, and realized I COULD change it to Emily’s POV and still get what I wanted out of the line.

“Sara sat at the end of the table, smiling quietly.”

Now, that may seem brutally obvious with me just handing it to you on a silver platter, but center that line in the text, and try to keep your overall tone, and a little thing like this is hard to come up with.

Sometimes, you just need to be laughed at in order to kick your brain into high gear.

Of course, I am sure some will complain that you don’t need the word quietly at all, that a smile is naturally quiet, but I like the feel of this.  If it gets red-lined, I will let you know.