Sunday, January 21, 2007

Deepen that point of view...

Deep point of view -- what is it, exactly? Well, it's when you get so far into a character's thoughts that you get to know them from the inside out over the course of the book. You feel what they feel; hear, see and even smell what they smell. You almost 'become' the character.

At least, that's my take on that particular term. ;)

How do you write it? It takes practice AND it means no head-hopping! Sorry, folks, it just won't work.

**Covering my butt here in case any editors are lurking. ;) **

Ahem. There is one exercise passed down to me from another writer -- I wish I could remember who it was, but the memory is a bit fuzzy --- although, I'm guessing it was Deborah Hale of Harlequin Romance/LUNA fame. She is a fantastic lady and a wonderful writer. Do check out her books asap.

Anyway, here's what you do:

Write a scene (or a few paragraphs) in first person point of view -- I, me, myself and my. True, I am not a big first-person fan, but do it for me anyhow.

Once you're finished, go back and change all the pronouns to the appropriate gender -- he, she, etc. This can be done, obviously, for any point of view you may feel lacks depth. But try it whenever you have trouble connecting with your characters or just as a writing exercise -- all muscles need a good work-out, even those of the imagination. ;)

Here's a short example of what I'm talking about from my up-coming historical, ALAINA'S PROMISE:

Written in first person:

The cold stillness of the house wrapped around me, chilling me to the bone. I drew in a deep breath as I reached for the banister and climbed the curved staircase.

My father was dying.

I froze midway up the steps, knuckles white as I gripped the smooth wood in an effort to still shaking fingers. Fear snaked around my heart and reached down further into my soul. I squeezed my eyes shut as I fought to dispel the panic. It would do no good for him to see me like this.

“Be strong,” I commanded myself aloud
.

Now, I change it to third person:

The cold stillness of the house wrapped around Alaina, chilling her to the bone. She drew in a deep breath as she reached for the banister and climbed the curved staircase.

Her father was dying.

She froze midway up the steps, knuckles white as she gripped the smooth wood in an effort to still shaking fingers. Fear snaked around her heart and reached down further into her soul. She squeezed her eyes shut as she fought to dispel the panic. It would do no good for him to see her like this.

“Be strong,” she commanded herself aloud.


*****

Now, that's not the most perfect example, but hopefully you get the idea. Try this exercise a few times if you're ever unsure of your character; have been told you tend to head-hop; OR you just want to dig a little deeper. Remember, the point is that you can only show things through the narrator's senses. This connects the reader to the character and pulls them more deeply into the story.

Deepen that point of view, and they will care -- they won't be able to stop themselves. ;)

Make them care, and they will come back for more. Don't you? :)

9 comments:

Diane Craver said...

Hi Meg,
I liked what you wrote about getting into a deep point of view. I'll use your suggestion of writing it in first person point of view, then changing it to third. Thanks!
Diane

Grace Tyler said...

Great exercise, Meg.

Mwah!

Laura Hamby said...

Applauding.

Meg Allison said...

Thanks, ladies! Glad it was helpful -- and coherent. ;)

Barbara said...

I prefer writing first person point of view. when I try third i usually have passive voice

Meg Allison said...

Barbara, you mentioned one thing that I really hate thinking about--passive voice.

shudder

I know I used to have a problem with that, but not sure how I'm doing anymore. Honestly, I really have trouble 'seeing' it, so I can't tell if I've gotten better about avoiding it or not.

That would make a good post topic, wouldn't it? Anyone else want to write it? (GGGG)

Sherry said...

Hi, Meg! I'm not a writer just a very avid reader. It amazes me the talent of an author. I'm so looking forward to reading Alaina's Promise.

Cathie said...

Meg, as a reader, I learned lots. No i won't write ever (I want to read them all!) but it helps too understand as a writer where you come from in how your story and writing is set up! I love first person as well as third person. At first I was resistant to first person but I rarely gave it a try. But since I did, I love it more at times. I feel like I can fall into the story and characters much faster.

Meg Allison said...

Thanks, Sherry!

Cathie, there is one first-person book I read that I still love -- CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. Not a romance, exactly, but it still has the most romantic ending ever!