And here we go again. I have been doing a LOT of reading this past couple weeks and I have run across a few things that are really bothering me. Huh, imagine, me complaining about something. Whooda thunk it? What am I bitchin’ about this time, you ask?
Well, it’s a POV (point of view) issue. I keep reading things that just don’t work for me. If we are clearly in the protagonist’s head, we should not read things like:
“If you are going to kill me, then do it now.” Her steely eyes flared with white-hot anger as she stared at the murderer before her. “I am not afraid to die.
Really? She is looking at a murderer, not herself in the mirror. Do you think like this when you are in a situation?
Gale stared longingly at Bob. She tossed her wavy auburn tresses back over her slender shoulder, radiant with desire.
Okay, that one is almost verbatim but changed the names to protect the goofy.
Seriously writers, think about what is happening in your scene and if you are clearly in a characters POV, then PLEASE, for the love of Pete and Mike, don’t put in your goofy adverb-riddled descriptions just to impress the reader, or worse yet, pad your word count. It is lazy and distracting. Would Gale really think this about herself as she looked at Bob?
And while I’m at it. Don’t do things like:
Jesse smiled at her new husband. “Drake, you can’t imagine how happy you have made today.” Her heart pounded so hard in her chest she thought she might explode with desire for him. “I never dreamed I would be so lucky as to marry a man like you.” Drake realized at that moment how lucky he was. “Drake, please kiss me.”
Okay, it is one paragraph, pick a POV and go with it. I used to be a POV purist. One POV per scene, no exceptions, then I started reading Nora Roberts. You can either be a POV purist or you can enjoy her stuff.
At the very least, don’t change POV multiple times in one paragraph. It is just downright confusing and it really pisses me off when I read it. Especially if I am liking a story and then this starts happening.
So, for the sake of your readers and your career, pay attention and keep it all clean and in perspective.
You may adjourn to the rest of your life now.
Sometimes even changing paragraphs isn’t enough. I get a lot of flak from some editor/reviewers that even that level of separation is still head-hopping and they don’t like it.
The middle example is definitely an example of overblown writing, but I’m not so sure it’s a disruption of POV. There’s nothing in those two sentences to indicate that a shift has taken place, as far as I can see.
I absolutely agree with you about POV in the examples you gave. I also enjoy Nora Roberts, but she handles omniscient POV very well. In Nora’s books, I’m never in doubt about whose viewpoint the paragraph is in. That’s one of the biggest problems with head hopping–when you have to read something twice to figure it out, or worse, you can’t tell.
POV issues were invisible to me before, but now I see them every where. I guess if you were schizophrenic it wouldn’t be a problem. Lol
Great tips! Your examples are easy to understand. I’m not gulty (much) of multiple povs, but that adverb thingy? *sigh*
Oh my yes, I read a book where I think the author was trying for omnipresent POV, but failed. In one scene, the sheriff speaks on his radio and you see his thoughts and actions. Then it jumps to the dispatcher back at the station. Then to the second sheriff in another county. Arg! In another scene there are phone calls from two people and you see POV jump between them, then a thought regarding the main character…not even in the scene.