Monday, September 6, 2010

Point of View. Again.

I'm editing yet another manuscript where the author's point of view hops all over the place and I'm perplexed. Why is this happening?

Is there any way I can help writers understand this concept or learn this technique? What do you need to know? What don't you understand?

Because I'm getting cranky, people. Really, really cranky. To the point where, if I see even a shade of headhopping, I'm going to start rejecting manuscripts without a second thought. I don't want to do that, though. I'd really rather see if I can teach what needs to be taught and help writers--especially new writers--get published. I'm tired of trying to teach and edit at the same time. It's distracting me from the other things, like plot holes and grammar mistakes.

My attitude is becoming; "if you think you're advanced enough to be published, you'd better have a good understanding of point of view. Your homework should be done. You should be well-learned in your craft already. If you're not, go back to work until you get it. I'm here to edit your manuscript, not do a seminar for you." Grrr. (I should change back to Lighthearted Writer, Darkhearted Editor. Seriously. Grumble.)

But I don't like that attitude. I'm a teacher at heart and I want to help. Please, my few but wonderful readers, send your writer friends here and tell them to leave their questions about point of view in the comments, or send them to if they find they can't access the comment feature. Tell them all questions are good questions (as long as they pertain to the subject, of course). Tell me: What don't you understand? What do you need to know? Why don't you understand why you can't see one scene in multiple points of view?

The thing is, I remember being a new writer and joining a critique group.When they told me I needed to learn point of view, I went to the library (this was in the days before Google) and looked for books about it. I found one. And it didn't help. Instead, my patient crit partners taught me point of view.

It's a strange thing, really. It's so difficult to understand until that lightbulb moment, yet so simple once you get it. So--how can I help you turn on your lightbulb?


  1. The way I do it, I write a chapter from one character's point of view. If I need another perspective, then I bring it in later, in it's own right, possibly reflecting on what just happened.
    That's not to say the lines sometimes blur, and I have to go back over a scene to fix it, but it definitely helps me to keep my head in the right place.
    And yes.
    Slip into the character's shoes. If you (the character) can't see it, then don't bring it in.

  2. I will admit that POV was a mystery for me at first. In much of the 'old' romances I used to read, there was head-hopping everywhere. I thought that was the way to write. LOL Imagine my surprise when I received my first round of edits! Today, POV is one of the things I look for when reviewing, editing, or critiquing. It drives me nuts!

    Have a Sparkling Day!

  3. There's a lightbulb?!

    PoV is a constant issue for me. It's like my fingers want to write omniscient when I want to write limited. ;)


  4. Well, see? Everyone (except YOU, Adam --keep writing first person, you'll be fine) seems to have a handle on it.

    What do writers need to know or learn in order to keep their point of view from hopping all over the place?

  5. So... The published and soon to be published novellas, the sequel to Reaper and the first of a trilogy that I'm editing should all be ditched? :-(


  6. It's funny, I'm so aware of it that when I run across it with some of my favorite authors it jars me out of the story for a moment. I do agree though, it's an "ah ha!" moment when it clicks into place and you realize it and wonder why the hell didn't I get this before?