Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Writing for the Faint of Heart: POV

POV done well will be a natural extension of who your character is. The way they perceive their surroundings and what they notice about other people says a lot about what kind of person they are. There are other things to consider as well. The writer must also remember that the POV character is filtering everything he sees and hears through his own life experience up to the point where the book starts. 

As a broad example, I think everyone will agree that a young woman will see things differently than a young man. She will notice things a man will not notice and vice versa.

The same holds true when you consider how a young woman who is a professional in her career would interact with her surroundings and others when compared to that of a young woman with no formal education.

It also stands to reason that a young woman with a past of abuse will perceive things differently than a woman who grew up secure in her parents' love. 

You get the idea, I'm sure. As a reader sees the world through the eyes of the POV character, they should also be able to pick up on who that person is and what the person wants to become. No two POVs should be alike because every character is unique. This is a rule easily remembered when writing dialogue, but what about narrative? Every time you switch POV characters, the reader should know from reading the narrative whose head they are in without ever having to be told. Digging deep into who your character is and showing that through deep POV will build a connection between your reader and the character. 

Things to consider as you develop your POV character:

Life experience
Where they grew up
Likes and dislikes
Relationship strengths and weaknesses

Can you think of anything else to add to the list?

S. Dionne Moore is a three time Carol Award finalist and author of the LaTisha Barnhart cozy mystery series: Murder on the Ol' Bunions, Polly Dent Loses Grip and Your Goose is Cooked.


  1. Sandra, your post is such an excellent reminder for writers to always consider where the character is coming from. Thank you for your great insight.

    ~Nancy Jill

  2. I can absolutely add to it. LOL

    The childhood incident that caused them to believe a lie about themselves, and what that lie is. This is one of the core elements to a character. It will effect their psyche, how they perceive their world and self. Therefore, it effects their actions as well.

    The other is motivation. What is the deep core motivation of the character? It also stems from the lie they believe.

    Good gravy! I never realized how much of a psychologist a writer has to be!!!

  3. True, Ane. Very true. We do have to delve into the things that make people tick in order to get the hang of deep POV.

  4. Sandra--I like to see where the character takes the story. That's when you know you've developed depth in your character. It's like you're in their skin, living vicariously through them. A great way to relate the story to readers.

  5. Great post Sandy. Ane thanks for jumping in there and adding your comments. I remember the class I took from you - one of the first from the loop on-line class about Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Thanks for reminding me about this and focus on Trixie's lie she believes.
    Deborah Malone
    "Death in Dahlonega"

  6. The best books to read are the ones where the POV flows seemlessly. Thanks for this great article, ladies!