Tuesday, March 11, 2008

POV question from comments

lg253 said...

I'm new to posting to this blog, though I have read it and learned so much. Since we are talking about POV, may I ask a very simple (albeit a stupid) question. Let's say there are four characters in a scene, sitting on a porch, having a conversation. POV is Character A. Now, I understand that if the reader is to know what Characters B,C, and D are thinking or feeling, somehow it has to be communicated through Character A. But what if Character B throws a rock into the yard. Do I have to qualify it. Character A saw Character B throw a rock. Or, can it be assumed that if Character B does it that Character A witnessed it. Any advice would be appreciated. And if it was truly a stupid question, I apologize...

No, it wasn't a stupid question, as you'll see when I tell you there are several options. :)

Character A is in POV.

Okay, so that can mean that the scene is told entirely through her eyes-- that's what's often called "single-third" or "deep third"-- the narration is confined to this one person's experience.

But there are other possibilities. In a slightly more distant POV, say a limited omniscient, you don't have to be completely confined to the POV character's perceptions. That is, if you report thoughts and feelings, you only report hers, but you might also report events from a more outside perspective.

However, staying in Char. A's POV will be easy, because she's right there and can in fact see the rock being tossed. So you have several options for narrating that, and I think you might just go with what seems to fit the scene and how you've mostly narrated the scene.

Some options:

1) Billy tossed a rock at the dirt mound.

2) Out of the corner of her eye, Joan saw Billy toss a rock at the dirt mound.

3) Joan watched, annoyed, as Billy tossed a rock at the dirt mound.

4) That damned Billy was at it again, carelessly tossing a rock at the dirt mound.

5) Jeez, Billy was such a dork. There he was, acting like a kid, tossing a rock at the dirt mound.

Those are sort of from most distant to most intimate. But they're all possible in her POV-- just depends on how close you are to her insides. :) And that's going to be shown in your approach to the whole scene. You wouldn't have the last (which uses her interior voice) in a more restrained narration, for example.

Does that make sense? POV choice doesn't dictate your narration-- rather your approach to the narrative in the whole book, particularly how much of the character voice you're using, should affect how "close" you are to the POV character. This is something to watch for as you read, especially as you read books in your chosen sub-genre, as often there's a preferred approach (thrillers, for example, tend to have a closer POV than mysteries do, as thrillers are more "emotional"). How do other authors do it? That's a good place to start.

One last thing-- remember that virtually none of your readers are telepathic, so they really won't expect to know what the other characters are thinking, any more than they expect to read their own friends' minds. So you do NOT have to have Character A tell us what the other characters are thinking. However, the other characters' actions and dialogue might tell the reader something about what they're thinking or feeling. For example:

"You can't tell me what to do." Billy stood up and flung a rock at the dirt mound.

See how a bit more action (he stands up) and a stronger verb (flung) indicate that he's mad... with no interpretation from Joan needed.

Alicia

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Alicia,

Speaking of POV...I pre-ordered your book through Amazon.com two months ago. So when is it coming out?

Anne S.

Edittorrent said...

Today! I guess it's yesterday now. And I went from 100,000th on the Amazon bestseller list, to 39,000th! Moving up!!
Alicia

Clg253 said...

Thank you so much. This site is wonderful! Congratulations on your book! I look forward to reading it.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Alicia!
I look forward to receive my copy soon.
Best,

Anne S.

Lyn Cash said...

POV choice doesn't dictate your narration-- rather your approach to the narrative

I love that. Always learn or re-learn when I visit you two.