POVs on POV

Wow, y’all are prolific! So many interesting discussions! Which one to choose! OK, I’ll jump in on the POV thang….
Susan Miranda said:  "My historical romances are now limited to the heroine’s point of view, and her hero’s with it. To keep things interesting, I usually add a lesser pov for the villain/antagonist as well. I try to limit myself to one head per scene so readers don’t have to keep jumping, too."
I had a similar learning curve with this.
Generally I avoid head hopping, because *I* am the one who gets confused, haha, and then I lose control of the scene, so I try to keep it simple: His and Hers POVs, one per scene, sometimes a whole chapter. It does help focus the story, and I find it also helps intensify character and can give more immediacy to the story. It’s limited POV, but there are many ways to indicate thought, reaction, and emotion in a non-pov character, through describing gesture, expression, remarks, tone in dialogue, the reactions of the POV character, and the general context.
A few blog posts ago, Pat Rice remarked: "Technically, I think the theory is that a scene should be set in the POV of the person most affected by the action. Heck if I know who that is until I write the scene."
I hear ya. Sometimes if I’m having problems with a scene, I’ll rewrite it from the other viewpoint, because I’ll realize, Duh!, it’s in the wrong POV –and then suddenly it flows again. Like Pat says, the main POV gets awarded to the person most affected by the action. In some psychology techniques they ask "Who owns the problem?" (yeah, I’ve been to those teen parenting classes!). This is a handy question to ask when beginning a new scene, especially if you use limited his ‘n hers POVs.
Hey y’all, it’s Friday already and we’ve had a GREAT response to the Grand Opening Week of Word Wenches!!  CHEERS and big THANK YOUs to everyone!!
Susan Sarah, adding celebratory pic of Eilean Donan castle that she took her own self:
                                                                 Eilean_donansues_pic_1

45 thoughts on “POVs on POV”

  1. Gosh, it is good to hear ya’ll struggle with the same things as li’l ole me. I often find, and hope I’m not alone in this, that one character is considerably stronger than the other, and at a certain point I’d be inclined to keep the story going to the end in that person’s POV, but force myself to do otherwise.

    Reply
  2. Gosh, it is good to hear ya’ll struggle with the same things as li’l ole me. I often find, and hope I’m not alone in this, that one character is considerably stronger than the other, and at a certain point I’d be inclined to keep the story going to the end in that person’s POV, but force myself to do otherwise.

    Reply
  3. Gosh, it is good to hear ya’ll struggle with the same things as li’l ole me. I often find, and hope I’m not alone in this, that one character is considerably stronger than the other, and at a certain point I’d be inclined to keep the story going to the end in that person’s POV, but force myself to do otherwise.

    Reply
  4. What a gorgeous picture of Eilean Donan! You’re the official Castle Wench, I think. 🙂
    My two cents on POV: like Susan/Miranda, I read all those nice English books where a writer could jump from hero to heroine to servant to kitchen cat with no problems. My early Signet Regencies did pretty much that!
    I’m still not a POV purist–I think that different types of POV suit different kinds of books. I did learn that keeping tighter POV worked better for historical romances because it can create more intensity, and leaping from head to head can work well for lighter books. But I’m still not a purist.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  5. What a gorgeous picture of Eilean Donan! You’re the official Castle Wench, I think. 🙂
    My two cents on POV: like Susan/Miranda, I read all those nice English books where a writer could jump from hero to heroine to servant to kitchen cat with no problems. My early Signet Regencies did pretty much that!
    I’m still not a POV purist–I think that different types of POV suit different kinds of books. I did learn that keeping tighter POV worked better for historical romances because it can create more intensity, and leaping from head to head can work well for lighter books. But I’m still not a purist.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  6. What a gorgeous picture of Eilean Donan! You’re the official Castle Wench, I think. 🙂
    My two cents on POV: like Susan/Miranda, I read all those nice English books where a writer could jump from hero to heroine to servant to kitchen cat with no problems. My early Signet Regencies did pretty much that!
    I’m still not a POV purist–I think that different types of POV suit different kinds of books. I did learn that keeping tighter POV worked better for historical romances because it can create more intensity, and leaping from head to head can work well for lighter books. But I’m still not a purist.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  7. Susan/Miranda, I’m looking forward so much to your novel about Sarah Churchill. I’ve been reading her bios as part of my research for a fictionalised bio of a different (but contemporary) duchess. (Mine is a confideante to Queen Mary II, tho’ not as close to her as Sarah was to Anne.)
    Your comments about 1st person being the norm for this genre struck a chord. I considered this long and hard, but for my particular tale, 1st person just doesn’t work.
    Wondering whether 1st person was your choice, or whether your were, shall we say, “editorially encouraged”?
    Just curious.

    Reply
  8. Susan/Miranda, I’m looking forward so much to your novel about Sarah Churchill. I’ve been reading her bios as part of my research for a fictionalised bio of a different (but contemporary) duchess. (Mine is a confideante to Queen Mary II, tho’ not as close to her as Sarah was to Anne.)
    Your comments about 1st person being the norm for this genre struck a chord. I considered this long and hard, but for my particular tale, 1st person just doesn’t work.
    Wondering whether 1st person was your choice, or whether your were, shall we say, “editorially encouraged”?
    Just curious.

    Reply
  9. Susan/Miranda, I’m looking forward so much to your novel about Sarah Churchill. I’ve been reading her bios as part of my research for a fictionalised bio of a different (but contemporary) duchess. (Mine is a confideante to Queen Mary II, tho’ not as close to her as Sarah was to Anne.)
    Your comments about 1st person being the norm for this genre struck a chord. I considered this long and hard, but for my particular tale, 1st person just doesn’t work.
    Wondering whether 1st person was your choice, or whether your were, shall we say, “editorially encouraged”?
    Just curious.

    Reply
  10. Hi, Margaret,
    I’m fascinated to hear that you’re working on a fictionalized bio of another 17th century duchess. Queen Mary has gotten kind of lost in the historical shuffle, somewhere between bawdy Charles II and the Hanovers and defintely behind her husband William. Which duchess is your subject?
    As for the first-person pov for these books: some work, some don’t. It does depend on the character, and the plot. Sarah Churchill has such an astoundingly strong personality, even over 300 years, that she really had to be first person. She didn’t give me a choice. By the time my editor saw it, the decision had already been made.
    Nice to have you visiting here!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  11. Hi, Margaret,
    I’m fascinated to hear that you’re working on a fictionalized bio of another 17th century duchess. Queen Mary has gotten kind of lost in the historical shuffle, somewhere between bawdy Charles II and the Hanovers and defintely behind her husband William. Which duchess is your subject?
    As for the first-person pov for these books: some work, some don’t. It does depend on the character, and the plot. Sarah Churchill has such an astoundingly strong personality, even over 300 years, that she really had to be first person. She didn’t give me a choice. By the time my editor saw it, the decision had already been made.
    Nice to have you visiting here!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  12. Hi, Margaret,
    I’m fascinated to hear that you’re working on a fictionalized bio of another 17th century duchess. Queen Mary has gotten kind of lost in the historical shuffle, somewhere between bawdy Charles II and the Hanovers and defintely behind her husband William. Which duchess is your subject?
    As for the first-person pov for these books: some work, some don’t. It does depend on the character, and the plot. Sarah Churchill has such an astoundingly strong personality, even over 300 years, that she really had to be first person. She didn’t give me a choice. By the time my editor saw it, the decision had already been made.
    Nice to have you visiting here!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  13. POV is a nasty struggle for me. My four main characters (2 male, 2 female) like to fight for control. It’s not so bad when I have one “he” and one “she” and the other two are “parked” off somewhere. But the real fights seem to break out among the women. While both are strong in their own right and in very different ways, I struggle when they are in the same room together. How do you deal with having two “shes” talking to one another without repeatedly using their names so the reader knows who is talking?
    Nina

    Reply
  14. POV is a nasty struggle for me. My four main characters (2 male, 2 female) like to fight for control. It’s not so bad when I have one “he” and one “she” and the other two are “parked” off somewhere. But the real fights seem to break out among the women. While both are strong in their own right and in very different ways, I struggle when they are in the same room together. How do you deal with having two “shes” talking to one another without repeatedly using their names so the reader knows who is talking?
    Nina

    Reply
  15. POV is a nasty struggle for me. My four main characters (2 male, 2 female) like to fight for control. It’s not so bad when I have one “he” and one “she” and the other two are “parked” off somewhere. But the real fights seem to break out among the women. While both are strong in their own right and in very different ways, I struggle when they are in the same room together. How do you deal with having two “shes” talking to one another without repeatedly using their names so the reader knows who is talking?
    Nina

    Reply
  16. LOL, Nina! Headstrong women do tend to take over a scene. Keeping them separated is a delicate task for the final edit/revision for me. I let the dialogue fall where it will, maybe throw in some action (one character may be physically aggressive while the other is more passive: cooking or knitting or whatever), and go on in the first draft. Then I go back and thread in dialect (is one upper and the other lower class, of two different countries or parts of the states, uses more curse words than the other?). Then I have to dig down into their personalities and try to make each speech stand out from the other, each action definitive of that character. and when all else fails, I use names!

    Reply
  17. LOL, Nina! Headstrong women do tend to take over a scene. Keeping them separated is a delicate task for the final edit/revision for me. I let the dialogue fall where it will, maybe throw in some action (one character may be physically aggressive while the other is more passive: cooking or knitting or whatever), and go on in the first draft. Then I go back and thread in dialect (is one upper and the other lower class, of two different countries or parts of the states, uses more curse words than the other?). Then I have to dig down into their personalities and try to make each speech stand out from the other, each action definitive of that character. and when all else fails, I use names!

    Reply
  18. LOL, Nina! Headstrong women do tend to take over a scene. Keeping them separated is a delicate task for the final edit/revision for me. I let the dialogue fall where it will, maybe throw in some action (one character may be physically aggressive while the other is more passive: cooking or knitting or whatever), and go on in the first draft. Then I go back and thread in dialect (is one upper and the other lower class, of two different countries or parts of the states, uses more curse words than the other?). Then I have to dig down into their personalities and try to make each speech stand out from the other, each action definitive of that character. and when all else fails, I use names!

    Reply
  19. Thank you, Patricia, for your wonderful ideas. Just put them in place and the chapter came alive! Only had to use their name’s once.
    To all the Word Wenches — This site is awesome. Thank you, MJ for inviting me. It’s exactly what I needed. I no longer feel alone.

    Reply
  20. Thank you, Patricia, for your wonderful ideas. Just put them in place and the chapter came alive! Only had to use their name’s once.
    To all the Word Wenches — This site is awesome. Thank you, MJ for inviting me. It’s exactly what I needed. I no longer feel alone.

    Reply
  21. Thank you, Patricia, for your wonderful ideas. Just put them in place and the chapter came alive! Only had to use their name’s once.
    To all the Word Wenches — This site is awesome. Thank you, MJ for inviting me. It’s exactly what I needed. I no longer feel alone.

    Reply
  22. POV’s oh, POV’s I need some basic rules around POV’s!
    Just got a critique back from a reader. He is “accusing” me of head-hopping. In some places he’s right. I took out a few of his perceived hops and the story is better, tighter. But other places I feel like the story needs the hops to create tension. I am careful to make sure the chapter/scene is “told” through the characters most affected by the scene. Sometimes that is more than one, although I always keep it to two.
    I could go on and on into a long description, but I think the bottom line might be that what I think constitutes an “illegal” head-hop is much too broad and therefore I don’t recognize when I’m committing a head-hop foul.
    So, what constitutes an “illegal” head-hop vs. a “legal” one? And when/if you do a legal head hop, what are some good “lead ins” so that the reader doesn’t feel like he/she’s just been forcefully extracted? Give me some basic rules and I will follow… I promise.
    Nina

    Reply
  23. POV’s oh, POV’s I need some basic rules around POV’s!
    Just got a critique back from a reader. He is “accusing” me of head-hopping. In some places he’s right. I took out a few of his perceived hops and the story is better, tighter. But other places I feel like the story needs the hops to create tension. I am careful to make sure the chapter/scene is “told” through the characters most affected by the scene. Sometimes that is more than one, although I always keep it to two.
    I could go on and on into a long description, but I think the bottom line might be that what I think constitutes an “illegal” head-hop is much too broad and therefore I don’t recognize when I’m committing a head-hop foul.
    So, what constitutes an “illegal” head-hop vs. a “legal” one? And when/if you do a legal head hop, what are some good “lead ins” so that the reader doesn’t feel like he/she’s just been forcefully extracted? Give me some basic rules and I will follow… I promise.
    Nina

    Reply
  24. POV’s oh, POV’s I need some basic rules around POV’s!
    Just got a critique back from a reader. He is “accusing” me of head-hopping. In some places he’s right. I took out a few of his perceived hops and the story is better, tighter. But other places I feel like the story needs the hops to create tension. I am careful to make sure the chapter/scene is “told” through the characters most affected by the scene. Sometimes that is more than one, although I always keep it to two.
    I could go on and on into a long description, but I think the bottom line might be that what I think constitutes an “illegal” head-hop is much too broad and therefore I don’t recognize when I’m committing a head-hop foul.
    So, what constitutes an “illegal” head-hop vs. a “legal” one? And when/if you do a legal head hop, what are some good “lead ins” so that the reader doesn’t feel like he/she’s just been forcefully extracted? Give me some basic rules and I will follow… I promise.
    Nina

    Reply
  25. I’ve become more of a purist as time has passed, though not an absolute purist. However, as a reader I find that a lot of head-hopping (more than twice) in a scene is irritating/distracting/confusing. When one irritates/distracts/confuses a reader, one pulls him/her out of the story. So here are some thoughts. Try putting in a scene break every time you head hop. If you find you have a lot of short scenes, maybe it’s time to pare down the head hopping. Second, if you must head-hop in a scene, give the reader a warning. Say something like, “George was starting to feel put-upon.” But I do recommend asking yourself, “Is it really necessary to change POVs or is it just easier than finding a way to show what the other character is thinking or feeling?”

    Reply
  26. I’ve become more of a purist as time has passed, though not an absolute purist. However, as a reader I find that a lot of head-hopping (more than twice) in a scene is irritating/distracting/confusing. When one irritates/distracts/confuses a reader, one pulls him/her out of the story. So here are some thoughts. Try putting in a scene break every time you head hop. If you find you have a lot of short scenes, maybe it’s time to pare down the head hopping. Second, if you must head-hop in a scene, give the reader a warning. Say something like, “George was starting to feel put-upon.” But I do recommend asking yourself, “Is it really necessary to change POVs or is it just easier than finding a way to show what the other character is thinking or feeling?”

    Reply
  27. I’ve become more of a purist as time has passed, though not an absolute purist. However, as a reader I find that a lot of head-hopping (more than twice) in a scene is irritating/distracting/confusing. When one irritates/distracts/confuses a reader, one pulls him/her out of the story. So here are some thoughts. Try putting in a scene break every time you head hop. If you find you have a lot of short scenes, maybe it’s time to pare down the head hopping. Second, if you must head-hop in a scene, give the reader a warning. Say something like, “George was starting to feel put-upon.” But I do recommend asking yourself, “Is it really necessary to change POVs or is it just easier than finding a way to show what the other character is thinking or feeling?”

    Reply
  28. Loretta, thank you for your post. There are not words to express what it means to me that you (and all the other Word Wenches) are willing to “tutor” a fledgling.
    Keeping your excellent tutelage in mind, I went back to the “stickiest” part of my book (the first two pages) and removed some text that I thought constituted a head-hop. My concern is that if I do any more, I will loose the tension of the scene.
    Going back to my previous post, I think I’m not sure what constitutes a head-hop/POV change. So, maybe we can work from a known example. In the expert from MJP’s Marriage Spell (posted on her site) she starts out in Abby’s POV and then 10 paragraphs later the reader is tossed into Jacks. The excerpt ends with Jack’s, but I have a feeling (knowing MJ) she hops back into Abby’s head. (It seems like that would make sense because Abby is about to heal him which means she must become the main focus again.) This is similar to what’s happening in my first few pages, although we are standing in the middle of an Inquisition Hall. I start in the prisoner’s head, who is one of the main heroes. Then I hop into the head of the one holding the bloody whip (my main heroine and “Heir to the Kingdom”, who is seriously plagued by her life choices). I primarily stay between these two for the rest of this chapter, and the next two, except for a minor hop into the Grand Master’s head (my heroine’s mother) on page 3. This hop adds the looming evil dimension that warns the reader to something no one else knows. It also serves to make the reader “feel sorry for” and maybe even “root for” my unlikely heroine.
    Is this really head-hopping?
    Nina

    Reply
  29. Loretta, thank you for your post. There are not words to express what it means to me that you (and all the other Word Wenches) are willing to “tutor” a fledgling.
    Keeping your excellent tutelage in mind, I went back to the “stickiest” part of my book (the first two pages) and removed some text that I thought constituted a head-hop. My concern is that if I do any more, I will loose the tension of the scene.
    Going back to my previous post, I think I’m not sure what constitutes a head-hop/POV change. So, maybe we can work from a known example. In the expert from MJP’s Marriage Spell (posted on her site) she starts out in Abby’s POV and then 10 paragraphs later the reader is tossed into Jacks. The excerpt ends with Jack’s, but I have a feeling (knowing MJ) she hops back into Abby’s head. (It seems like that would make sense because Abby is about to heal him which means she must become the main focus again.) This is similar to what’s happening in my first few pages, although we are standing in the middle of an Inquisition Hall. I start in the prisoner’s head, who is one of the main heroes. Then I hop into the head of the one holding the bloody whip (my main heroine and “Heir to the Kingdom”, who is seriously plagued by her life choices). I primarily stay between these two for the rest of this chapter, and the next two, except for a minor hop into the Grand Master’s head (my heroine’s mother) on page 3. This hop adds the looming evil dimension that warns the reader to something no one else knows. It also serves to make the reader “feel sorry for” and maybe even “root for” my unlikely heroine.
    Is this really head-hopping?
    Nina

    Reply
  30. Loretta, thank you for your post. There are not words to express what it means to me that you (and all the other Word Wenches) are willing to “tutor” a fledgling.
    Keeping your excellent tutelage in mind, I went back to the “stickiest” part of my book (the first two pages) and removed some text that I thought constituted a head-hop. My concern is that if I do any more, I will loose the tension of the scene.
    Going back to my previous post, I think I’m not sure what constitutes a head-hop/POV change. So, maybe we can work from a known example. In the expert from MJP’s Marriage Spell (posted on her site) she starts out in Abby’s POV and then 10 paragraphs later the reader is tossed into Jacks. The excerpt ends with Jack’s, but I have a feeling (knowing MJ) she hops back into Abby’s head. (It seems like that would make sense because Abby is about to heal him which means she must become the main focus again.) This is similar to what’s happening in my first few pages, although we are standing in the middle of an Inquisition Hall. I start in the prisoner’s head, who is one of the main heroes. Then I hop into the head of the one holding the bloody whip (my main heroine and “Heir to the Kingdom”, who is seriously plagued by her life choices). I primarily stay between these two for the rest of this chapter, and the next two, except for a minor hop into the Grand Master’s head (my heroine’s mother) on page 3. This hop adds the looming evil dimension that warns the reader to something no one else knows. It also serves to make the reader “feel sorry for” and maybe even “root for” my unlikely heroine.
    Is this really head-hopping?
    Nina

    Reply
  31. Not sure there are any rules for POV–a lot of it is instinct and intuition, what feels right per scene, per character, per book. Like Loretta and others here, I’m mostly a purist too–it’s less confusing and just plain easier on author and reader. Sometimes tension is more effectively created through a single or limited POV, which allows more intensity, than a universal or bouncy POV. Like skimming stones on the surface of a pond, the multiple ripples keep the story on the surface instead of allowing it to deepen. Separating viewpoints into scenes or chapters, even if these are short, can transform tension, pacing, and the reader’s bond with a character.
    Hope that makes sense….

    Reply
  32. Not sure there are any rules for POV–a lot of it is instinct and intuition, what feels right per scene, per character, per book. Like Loretta and others here, I’m mostly a purist too–it’s less confusing and just plain easier on author and reader. Sometimes tension is more effectively created through a single or limited POV, which allows more intensity, than a universal or bouncy POV. Like skimming stones on the surface of a pond, the multiple ripples keep the story on the surface instead of allowing it to deepen. Separating viewpoints into scenes or chapters, even if these are short, can transform tension, pacing, and the reader’s bond with a character.
    Hope that makes sense….

    Reply
  33. Not sure there are any rules for POV–a lot of it is instinct and intuition, what feels right per scene, per character, per book. Like Loretta and others here, I’m mostly a purist too–it’s less confusing and just plain easier on author and reader. Sometimes tension is more effectively created through a single or limited POV, which allows more intensity, than a universal or bouncy POV. Like skimming stones on the surface of a pond, the multiple ripples keep the story on the surface instead of allowing it to deepen. Separating viewpoints into scenes or chapters, even if these are short, can transform tension, pacing, and the reader’s bond with a character.
    Hope that makes sense….

    Reply
  34. Susan Sarah makes a very good point. If you get inside too many heads in the course of a scene, you are telling more than you are showing. The more you tell, the less tension. I’m wondering if you’re confusing narrative tension–what compels the reader to turn pages?–with conflict. Of course, another thing to keep in mind is that restricting POV can be challenging, and it may take time and practice to find alternate ways of communicating. I know that my first few books had their share of head hopping. I might have continued doing it for some time had I not heard another author point out the drawbacks during a workshop. Then I started paying attention to my favorite writers, and noticed that even the Victorians who used the omnisicent narrator did very little head-hopping. There are exceptions, but I must say that even when Patrick O’Brian does it–and I love and admire his books–I can’t help thinking, “Was that really necessary?”

    Reply
  35. Susan Sarah makes a very good point. If you get inside too many heads in the course of a scene, you are telling more than you are showing. The more you tell, the less tension. I’m wondering if you’re confusing narrative tension–what compels the reader to turn pages?–with conflict. Of course, another thing to keep in mind is that restricting POV can be challenging, and it may take time and practice to find alternate ways of communicating. I know that my first few books had their share of head hopping. I might have continued doing it for some time had I not heard another author point out the drawbacks during a workshop. Then I started paying attention to my favorite writers, and noticed that even the Victorians who used the omnisicent narrator did very little head-hopping. There are exceptions, but I must say that even when Patrick O’Brian does it–and I love and admire his books–I can’t help thinking, “Was that really necessary?”

    Reply
  36. Susan Sarah makes a very good point. If you get inside too many heads in the course of a scene, you are telling more than you are showing. The more you tell, the less tension. I’m wondering if you’re confusing narrative tension–what compels the reader to turn pages?–with conflict. Of course, another thing to keep in mind is that restricting POV can be challenging, and it may take time and practice to find alternate ways of communicating. I know that my first few books had their share of head hopping. I might have continued doing it for some time had I not heard another author point out the drawbacks during a workshop. Then I started paying attention to my favorite writers, and noticed that even the Victorians who used the omnisicent narrator did very little head-hopping. There are exceptions, but I must say that even when Patrick O’Brian does it–and I love and admire his books–I can’t help thinking, “Was that really necessary?”

    Reply
  37. Susan Sarah: I like your “skipping stones” analogy. Thank You. Am really working that one through and trying to apply it.
    Loretta: Right there with you on the telling vs. showing. My first version (I’m on #5 now) did nothing but tell. A wonderful reader pointed this out to me. Now I show — or try to — using the self made adage that if the character can speak it or gesture it, he/she should do so w/o thinking it and the narrator must keep her mouth shut.
    Please speak more to your comment on “narrative tension–what compels the reader to turn pages?–and conflict.” I’m not following the difference. But I want to. I’m getting the sense that this may be another key to my quest in studying POV.
    Thanks is not enough…
    Nina
    In a P.S., I will now woefully admit to two things. First, out of all of you wonderful Word Wenches, I’ve only every read MJ. And that’s because in January I was caught out on an extended business trip w/o a good book. I went into a drug store for some chocolate and spotted Kiss of Fate. Now for my second confession — it was my very first romance read. And MJ stole my heart. I’ve been ravenous ever since. I do plan to start flying through all the other Word Wenches books post Marriage Spell. MJ, I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

    Reply
  38. Susan Sarah: I like your “skipping stones” analogy. Thank You. Am really working that one through and trying to apply it.
    Loretta: Right there with you on the telling vs. showing. My first version (I’m on #5 now) did nothing but tell. A wonderful reader pointed this out to me. Now I show — or try to — using the self made adage that if the character can speak it or gesture it, he/she should do so w/o thinking it and the narrator must keep her mouth shut.
    Please speak more to your comment on “narrative tension–what compels the reader to turn pages?–and conflict.” I’m not following the difference. But I want to. I’m getting the sense that this may be another key to my quest in studying POV.
    Thanks is not enough…
    Nina
    In a P.S., I will now woefully admit to two things. First, out of all of you wonderful Word Wenches, I’ve only every read MJ. And that’s because in January I was caught out on an extended business trip w/o a good book. I went into a drug store for some chocolate and spotted Kiss of Fate. Now for my second confession — it was my very first romance read. And MJ stole my heart. I’ve been ravenous ever since. I do plan to start flying through all the other Word Wenches books post Marriage Spell. MJ, I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

    Reply
  39. Susan Sarah: I like your “skipping stones” analogy. Thank You. Am really working that one through and trying to apply it.
    Loretta: Right there with you on the telling vs. showing. My first version (I’m on #5 now) did nothing but tell. A wonderful reader pointed this out to me. Now I show — or try to — using the self made adage that if the character can speak it or gesture it, he/she should do so w/o thinking it and the narrator must keep her mouth shut.
    Please speak more to your comment on “narrative tension–what compels the reader to turn pages?–and conflict.” I’m not following the difference. But I want to. I’m getting the sense that this may be another key to my quest in studying POV.
    Thanks is not enough…
    Nina
    In a P.S., I will now woefully admit to two things. First, out of all of you wonderful Word Wenches, I’ve only every read MJ. And that’s because in January I was caught out on an extended business trip w/o a good book. I went into a drug store for some chocolate and spotted Kiss of Fate. Now for my second confession — it was my very first romance read. And MJ stole my heart. I’ve been ravenous ever since. I do plan to start flying through all the other Word Wenches books post Marriage Spell. MJ, I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

    Reply
  40. Oh, Nina, this is a funny experience. I am so not analytical. My approach to the story is probably more like Pat Rice’s–only I see myself as stumbling about in the dark. I know when it’s wrong, but I don’t know ahead of time if it’s going to be wrong. Yes, I majored in English, and we had to analyze everything, but writing a term paper is one thing and writing a book is a completely different experience. So here’s my take on narrative tension: It’s putting in enough so that the reader knows what’s going on yet holding back enough so that the reader wants to know more. The way to learn how to do this is to read the kinds of books that keep you up past your bedtime and make you neglect your responsibilities. Study what the authors do. And maybe if we’re lucky, one of the other Wenches will offer a less mystifying answer.
    Conflict is easy. Romeo loves Juliet but their families hate each other. Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s death but he’s not sure he should do it on a ghost’s say-so. Mr. Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth Bennett but her family is beneath him. I see conflict as part of plot and character whereas narrative tension is in the writing itself and the choices the writer makes about how to present conflict as well as everything else.
    Anyone else want to tackle this? Loretta

    Reply
  41. Oh, Nina, this is a funny experience. I am so not analytical. My approach to the story is probably more like Pat Rice’s–only I see myself as stumbling about in the dark. I know when it’s wrong, but I don’t know ahead of time if it’s going to be wrong. Yes, I majored in English, and we had to analyze everything, but writing a term paper is one thing and writing a book is a completely different experience. So here’s my take on narrative tension: It’s putting in enough so that the reader knows what’s going on yet holding back enough so that the reader wants to know more. The way to learn how to do this is to read the kinds of books that keep you up past your bedtime and make you neglect your responsibilities. Study what the authors do. And maybe if we’re lucky, one of the other Wenches will offer a less mystifying answer.
    Conflict is easy. Romeo loves Juliet but their families hate each other. Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s death but he’s not sure he should do it on a ghost’s say-so. Mr. Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth Bennett but her family is beneath him. I see conflict as part of plot and character whereas narrative tension is in the writing itself and the choices the writer makes about how to present conflict as well as everything else.
    Anyone else want to tackle this? Loretta

    Reply
  42. Oh, Nina, this is a funny experience. I am so not analytical. My approach to the story is probably more like Pat Rice’s–only I see myself as stumbling about in the dark. I know when it’s wrong, but I don’t know ahead of time if it’s going to be wrong. Yes, I majored in English, and we had to analyze everything, but writing a term paper is one thing and writing a book is a completely different experience. So here’s my take on narrative tension: It’s putting in enough so that the reader knows what’s going on yet holding back enough so that the reader wants to know more. The way to learn how to do this is to read the kinds of books that keep you up past your bedtime and make you neglect your responsibilities. Study what the authors do. And maybe if we’re lucky, one of the other Wenches will offer a less mystifying answer.
    Conflict is easy. Romeo loves Juliet but their families hate each other. Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s death but he’s not sure he should do it on a ghost’s say-so. Mr. Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth Bennett but her family is beneath him. I see conflict as part of plot and character whereas narrative tension is in the writing itself and the choices the writer makes about how to present conflict as well as everything else.
    Anyone else want to tackle this? Loretta

    Reply
  43. Dearest Loretta,
    Thank you – again! I am abundantly blessed by your posts and the effort and time behind them as well as those of all the other Word Wenches.
    This is what you have taught me.
    Narrative Tension: My first attempt at narrative tension left my readers so confused (and tense) that I did a complete re-write. And then… you guessed it… the book became a yawn. Now, I’m trying to find the happy middle. As you said, you just never know until you write it. Thank God for the delete key!
    Conflict: When I read your “one liners”, “it” clicked – my book synopsis, that is. I’ve been trying to get a first draft of that for months. And once I got it “on paper”, I was wholly impressed with the simplistic complexity of conflict and how, even though we, as readers, demand large doses of it in our books, many of “us” spend our entire lives running away from it. (Might there be a book in that? If so, it’s up for grabs to anyone braver than I – which would be most.)
    POV: Putting narrative tension and conflict with POV, flicked a dim light bulb on in my brain. As you suggested, I studied five of my favorite “sleep steeling / sloth making” books by reading random chapters. Most of them were “purists” – one POV per chapter – something I never noticed before. Duh! I also noticed that when two of the main characters were in the same room, I found it abundantly more satisfying, more intriguing, when there was at least one head-hop between them. But only them. The barn cat must keep her thoughts to herself. When the writer permitted only one POV and the guy I was really interested in wasn’t that “one”, I felt like telling the narrator to “please shut up and get on with the show.”
    Armed with this dim flickering “ahah”, I flipped open my laptop and scrutinized my book. I found exactly what you expected me to find – extraneous head-hopping! Out came the marauding backspace key and… well… it was bloody. It was messy. I called for gaze, ointments, and the band-aids. Then it was over. There are still head-hops. But I have rules for them now. Although the editor’s all-powerful word machete might have another opinion.
    Lest anyone think otherwise, I am by no means learned on this fascinating subject. So, with your permission, I will continue to query your vast depths of knowledge. I do, however, feel safer when I write, more empowered to stand at the edge of the unknown’s great black abyss and stare, unflinchingly, into the gleaming white page void of words. You have done this for me. Thank you! I owe you all a signed copy of my book – when (never if) it gets published.
    Nina

    Reply
  44. Dearest Loretta,
    Thank you – again! I am abundantly blessed by your posts and the effort and time behind them as well as those of all the other Word Wenches.
    This is what you have taught me.
    Narrative Tension: My first attempt at narrative tension left my readers so confused (and tense) that I did a complete re-write. And then… you guessed it… the book became a yawn. Now, I’m trying to find the happy middle. As you said, you just never know until you write it. Thank God for the delete key!
    Conflict: When I read your “one liners”, “it” clicked – my book synopsis, that is. I’ve been trying to get a first draft of that for months. And once I got it “on paper”, I was wholly impressed with the simplistic complexity of conflict and how, even though we, as readers, demand large doses of it in our books, many of “us” spend our entire lives running away from it. (Might there be a book in that? If so, it’s up for grabs to anyone braver than I – which would be most.)
    POV: Putting narrative tension and conflict with POV, flicked a dim light bulb on in my brain. As you suggested, I studied five of my favorite “sleep steeling / sloth making” books by reading random chapters. Most of them were “purists” – one POV per chapter – something I never noticed before. Duh! I also noticed that when two of the main characters were in the same room, I found it abundantly more satisfying, more intriguing, when there was at least one head-hop between them. But only them. The barn cat must keep her thoughts to herself. When the writer permitted only one POV and the guy I was really interested in wasn’t that “one”, I felt like telling the narrator to “please shut up and get on with the show.”
    Armed with this dim flickering “ahah”, I flipped open my laptop and scrutinized my book. I found exactly what you expected me to find – extraneous head-hopping! Out came the marauding backspace key and… well… it was bloody. It was messy. I called for gaze, ointments, and the band-aids. Then it was over. There are still head-hops. But I have rules for them now. Although the editor’s all-powerful word machete might have another opinion.
    Lest anyone think otherwise, I am by no means learned on this fascinating subject. So, with your permission, I will continue to query your vast depths of knowledge. I do, however, feel safer when I write, more empowered to stand at the edge of the unknown’s great black abyss and stare, unflinchingly, into the gleaming white page void of words. You have done this for me. Thank you! I owe you all a signed copy of my book – when (never if) it gets published.
    Nina

    Reply
  45. Dearest Loretta,
    Thank you – again! I am abundantly blessed by your posts and the effort and time behind them as well as those of all the other Word Wenches.
    This is what you have taught me.
    Narrative Tension: My first attempt at narrative tension left my readers so confused (and tense) that I did a complete re-write. And then… you guessed it… the book became a yawn. Now, I’m trying to find the happy middle. As you said, you just never know until you write it. Thank God for the delete key!
    Conflict: When I read your “one liners”, “it” clicked – my book synopsis, that is. I’ve been trying to get a first draft of that for months. And once I got it “on paper”, I was wholly impressed with the simplistic complexity of conflict and how, even though we, as readers, demand large doses of it in our books, many of “us” spend our entire lives running away from it. (Might there be a book in that? If so, it’s up for grabs to anyone braver than I – which would be most.)
    POV: Putting narrative tension and conflict with POV, flicked a dim light bulb on in my brain. As you suggested, I studied five of my favorite “sleep steeling / sloth making” books by reading random chapters. Most of them were “purists” – one POV per chapter – something I never noticed before. Duh! I also noticed that when two of the main characters were in the same room, I found it abundantly more satisfying, more intriguing, when there was at least one head-hop between them. But only them. The barn cat must keep her thoughts to herself. When the writer permitted only one POV and the guy I was really interested in wasn’t that “one”, I felt like telling the narrator to “please shut up and get on with the show.”
    Armed with this dim flickering “ahah”, I flipped open my laptop and scrutinized my book. I found exactly what you expected me to find – extraneous head-hopping! Out came the marauding backspace key and… well… it was bloody. It was messy. I called for gaze, ointments, and the band-aids. Then it was over. There are still head-hops. But I have rules for them now. Although the editor’s all-powerful word machete might have another opinion.
    Lest anyone think otherwise, I am by no means learned on this fascinating subject. So, with your permission, I will continue to query your vast depths of knowledge. I do, however, feel safer when I write, more empowered to stand at the edge of the unknown’s great black abyss and stare, unflinchingly, into the gleaming white page void of words. You have done this for me. Thank you! I owe you all a signed copy of my book – when (never if) it gets published.
    Nina

    Reply

Leave a Comment