Monday, January 4, 2010

another myth of deep pov

Just making a list of these because I'm going to teach a class on this....

Another myth of Deep POV-- that letting the reader feel with the character, feel what the character feels, is always good.

Usually it is. But sometimes what the reader is feeling has to be different from what the character feels, and that probably requires some distance. For example, suspense is often dependent on the reader feeling dread as the character unwittingly stumbles into danger. If the reader is truly confined to the character's understanding, she might not get that sense of dread and hence the gathering suspense.

A fun aspect of reading is the doubling effect that's caused when the reader can simultaneously feel with the character and still have the distance to feel something else, an alternate emotion that's created not by the character but by the scene as a whole. It is possible to create distance and simultaneous and conflicting character/reader emotion while using deep POV, of course. Remind me to suggest some ways to do this. However, sliding up and out of deep POV into a more omniscient POV -- maybe especially if you've usually been one with the character-- can kind of signal to the reader to feel separately right here. That will help create that wonderful effect, where the reader is yelling, "Don't open that door, you idiot!"
Alicia

9 comments:

Jami G. said...

Alicia,

I'm looking forward to your techniques of how to create that distance/doubling/conflicting effect while in deep POV. My WIP is all from one character's POV except for the Prologue, so this could be useful for me to know. :)

Thanks!
Jami G.

Skeptic said...

That will help create that wonderful effect, where the reader is yelling, "Don't open that door, you idiot!"

My son says I do this often - yelling at books/the Kindle. The last book I read that left me with a strong sense that lingered was The Electric Church by Jeff Somers. I did a lot of screaming at the characters in that one.

Wes said...

Great topic!!!

Dave Shaw said...

(Let's see if I can attach this comment to the right post this time.)

Even in first person with a relatively reliable narrator, it doesn't work to show EVERY thought. The character is only going to report what she thinks is important for the reader to know, and even in a real person's autobiographical account she probably wouldn't remember a lot of what she thought about, much less report it all.

Of course, this opinion may partly reflect my male exasperation when my wife asks what I'm thinking and she's dissatisfied with what I tell her. Grr..

Murphy said...

Dave said: Of course, this opinion may partly reflect my male exasperation when my wife asks what I'm thinking and she's dissatisfied with what I tell her. Grr..

Murphy says: This is precisely where the use of subtext comes in handy. :D

Murphy

Edittorrent said...

Dave, well, with deep POV, if the character would think it, the reader has to have it thought.

That's why I think deep POV can often get in the way and shouldn't be the default in every case. If you don't want the character to share every bleeding thought with the reader, get out of deep POV for the passage. :)

Alicia who shares every bleeding thought, even with total strangers

Leona said...

I wish I was living close enough to take your classes. You make things wonderfully clear. WE may be your guinea pigs in all this, but I for one don't mind :D

Leona who struggles not to share every bleeding thought with total strangers

Dave Shaw said...

Alicia,

That's sort of what I was getting at - badly, of course.

Dave whose wife is convinced he has no bleeding thoughts because he doesn't share them very well with anyone

sanjeet said...

The character is only going to report what she thinks is important for the reader to know,

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