Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing for the Faint of Heart: POV

Read you character’s interview and backstory before editing their POV scenes. Much of who, what, and how your character thinks, acts and reacts will find their foundation in their backstory. A girl from the deep south is not going to use the same phrases, exclamations and speech patterns as someone from New England. 

Sometimes, though, a writer can go a little too crazy. There is no need to have a Scottish accent with words written accordingly to remind readers whose POV they are in. As a matter of fact, it can get annoying really fast to have to wade through page after page of something other than good, plain English. But if the Scots have some pet phrases for things be sure to make a list of those phrases and sprinkle them through that character’s POV and dialogue. Notice I said sprinkle. Again, too much gets old too fast. 

Yet another way to differentiate your character’s POV is behavior. Brits are known for their penchant for tea. If your character is British maybe part of their comfort ritual is, instead of grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, brewing  a spot of tea the old-fashioned way right in the comfort of their kitchen. 

This also applies for other characters. As we said last week, no two POVs should read alike. Give each character their routine to help identify who they are. Within their narrative have them incessantly checking email on their smartphone if they are the corporate type or a social butterfly, or twisting a strand of hair as a sign of nerves. Gritting of the teeth or incessant scowling can be a habit of someone with pent up rage. Look around for inspiration. You’ll find that writing in deep POV requires you to give your character a life beyond the page.

S. Dionne Moore is a three time Carol Award finalist for her books, Polly Dent Loses Grip (cozy mystery), Promise of Tomorrow and Promise of Time (both found in Promise Brides). She resides in the rolling hills of the Cumberland Valley in South Central PA.

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