Thursday, April 21, 2011

How I Write - Point of View

This is the first post for my very new feature called, How I Write. I thought it would be useful to post once a month or so something about my writing process, focus on something craft related or simply provide a tip or trick I may use while I write. Who knows? Readers may find the insight into the creative process interesting and aspiring authors out there may find something useful to take to their own writing. At least that's my hope.

For this first post I thought I would talk about Point of View (POV) because it is so very important to a book. One of the key things a writer needs to do is to quickly engage the reader and ensure they relate to the characters. It's what keeps the pages turning because a reader needs to care about the characters, especially in a romance. The reader needs to relate to and sympathize with the heroine. A reader needs to fall in love (a little or a lot LOL) with the hero. A reader needs to be right there, hoping and wishing and yearning for the couple to ultimately get together. Writing in a particular character's POV (and doing it well) is a key way to achieve that connection with the reader. I recently wrote 2 articles about writing in deep POV for Savvy Authors. They contain some very basic things with examples that you can do to achieve more depth, not just for your characters, but for your book as a whole. Rather than provide all that information here again, use the links below to check out the articles for the detail if you like.

Article 1
Article 2

There are a few things I do during my creative process to assist with executing POV correctly, particularly those key times when you need to change POV from one character to another. Now, I'm not one for rules :). I like to do what seems right, what feels right when I create. I don't think much about 'writing rules' along the way. That comes later when I self-edit or my editor goes *tsk* *tsk*. Generally speaking though, you don't want to change POV within a scene. You need time for the reader to ground themselves with that particular character and what they're experiencing before jumping into someone elses head. I say "generally speaking" because I regularly read successful NY Times bestselling authors that blow this guideline out of the water LOL. When I first started writing, this was probably one of my biggest challenges to overcome. My problem was that in every scene I knew what ALL the characters were thinking and tried to stuff it all in there. Of course there are pitfalls of this head-hopping and it ain't pretty for the reader.

One thing I used to do to ensure I was balancing out the POV time between characters and make sure I wasn't changing POV too often was to use color coding. I would literally go through  my document and change the font color to pink for the heroine's POV, blue for the hero's POV. Yeah, I know not very original :). The exercise is very enlightening though and suddenly what you're doing with your character's POV is so much easier to see and work with. It really helped me with the process to go back and smooth over these switches.

I hope you find something valuable in these posts. If you do, please leave a comment so I'll know and continue!!


  1. I like the pink and blue suggestion as I'm very "visually" oriented. Thank you!

  2. This was really interesting Kaily, thanks. I do head hop between scenes and I know I need to cut down on that. I like your article on avoiding telling. That's also something I'm still getting to grips with. But at least when you're aware of these problems, you can start to address them. I love when fellow writers blog about tips like these. It's nice to all be able to help each other out and make us all better writers:)

  3. Anny, I'm very visual as well. Literally you can see what's happening with your POV at a glance when it's color coded like that.

    Serenity, I think being aware of something is huge. You can't address something you don't realize you're doing LOL. For me, I need to see an example so I try to include examples in the craft articles and then something will just 'click'.

  4. colour coding is such a great tip!! definitely something I will use in future. I look forward to more of your how I write posts. Voice during POV is something I struggle to find until the end of as story sometimes-distinguishing the thought processes as much as the dialogue is challenging. :)

  5. Aw thanks, Emma. The color coding thing has really helped me. I hope it does for you too!

  6. Fantastic! Keep 'em coming!