Hi everyone! Welcome to the first Writer Wednesday installment.
Recently, I've been thinking about my assistant. Some of you have even met her lately--she's been handling all my giveaways to insure you all get your prizes on time. I couldn't get by without her, and she's been invaluable since she's signed on.
Part of our agreement when she joined forces with yours truly, is I'd impart knowledge about craft. This last month has been so busy for us, we've not had time to sit down, discuss, and banter ideas. So I figured, while we're waiting for schedules to open, the least I could do was write down a few things. Which led me to the idea that I'd work on a Writer Wednesday topic. Not strictly craft, but experiences, and general ramblings about this publishing world.
So here we are, day one. And this week, I am actually going into a craft discussion. Something I see frequently as an editor for Finish the Story.
Let's look at this mermaid for a minute. And let's assume the dolphin is our main character, not the lovely mermaid who's saving the handsome man.
If we are experiencing the story from the dolphin's point of view, we know that this mermaid is Queen of UnderDeep. We know this because we're the Captain of her Guard, and we've summoned her to stop the execution of an innocent man. A man who's kept the secret of Mermaid Cove and protected it from earthly curiosities. We know he's fae.
Our experience on this scene might go a little something like this. (Oh and our name is Donau)
"She pulled with all her might, fighting the current that sought to suck him into the bottomless chasm. His body rose limply over the fallen log, and Donau's heart raced. If she failed, if her fingers slipped, he would be forever lost and the cove he protected would fall under the NosyOnes control. No more would their kingdom know peace. With a mighty undulation of his tail, he dove beneath her elongated form and under Steven's body. Using the broad width of his back, he pushed, helping her guide Steven over the obstacle and away from the hungry undertow. Pain arced down his dorsal fin as it bent at an awkward angle."
Notice that we don't have any idea what her thoughts might be. We don't know if the shirt is slipping through our fingers. We don't know how heavy he might be. We don't know if she's fighting floating toward the surface. At no point do we know anything related to her directly, and certainly not the unconcious man. What we know, is only what we can personally hear, see, or feel as Donau. Our thoughts narrate. His pain is ours -- we are experiencing the sum total of events in his head, and those surrounding him.
If the next sentence was:
"Queen Naribia winced at the sight of Donau's crimped fin."
We've just switched into her head. Donau could see her wince, but he couldn't know what made her wince.
Let's try another real quick. From Queen Naribia's point of view.
"He was heavy, even though the water buoyed him. Heavier than she'd anticipated, and her body strained against the effort of pulling him away from the dangerous undertow. Donau swam around her and positioned himself beneath Steven's body, pushing as Naribia pulled."
And if the next sentence was:
"Donau looked up, considering which way would take them past the rough log that tore at Steven's soggy clothing."
Now we've switched again. Naribia would see him look up. But there is no way she could know exactly what he's looking at --unless its her-- nor what he was doing by looking up, or what he's thinking about."
The Bottom Line
When you're analyzing your writing for point of view errors, ask yourself, if you were in the character's place, would you have the same knowledge? Or would there be things you couldn't know, things you couldn't describe because it wasn't happening directly with you?
If it's information you couldn't experience first-hand by being in that character's shoes, you've switched POV. It's a very easy trick to helping navigate the murky waters (pun intended) of point of view. Use it! Your writing will become that much stronger!