Mark Terry

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Deep Point of View

October 3, 2006
As I'm wrapping up my final draft of ANGELS FALLING, the third Derek Stillwater novel, I keep thinking of Robert Gregory Browne's comments that he writes from deep point of view. That means that although he may use multiple points of view, all observations are from the point of view character.

Essentially I do this as well, although the distance I have from the narrative varies more than I want it to. That is to say, I try to keep the observations in the narrative to seem as if they are coming from the POV character, but sometimes I wander out into a more omniscient pov. (Hell, sometimes I've noted that I've wandered into other character's pov's unintentionally, and I have to change that--shame on me).

Chapter 75 began this way:

Robert Mandalevo stood up and walked toward where Maria was sprawled on the floor. Pablo Juarez glared at him, gun raised. "What are you doing?"

Mandalevo gestured to Maria. "She's injured. I'm going to help her get comfortable. May I?"

* * *

All right. Nothing wrong with that and the narrator doesn't get in the way of the story. It's rather minimalist. Sometimes what they do and say is all you need, but often you need more, so in my rewrite it went like this:

Robert Mandalevo stood up and walked toward where Maria was sprawled on the floor. It occurred to him that leaving that chair might be the bravest thing he did in his entire life. He knew by rising to his feet he was painting a bull's-eye on his chest. He briefly thought of his daughters and kept walking.

Pablo Juarez glared at him, gun raised. "What are you doing?"

Mandalevo gestured to Maria. Everything about his body language and tone of voice was neutral and non-threatening. At least he hoped so. "She's injured. I'm going to help her get comfortable. May I?"

* * *
Often my rough drafts don't have enough. As I'm going through I'm writing what I see in my head, but not digging deep enough into the pov character's mind and emotions. I'm better about this with my main character, Derek Stillwater, but in subsequent drafts I find I have to work harder to bring the other characters' hearts & minds into the story. Of course, you can get a great deal of information about the characters by what they say and do and I try to have that be the primary conveyance of thoughts and emotions--just like in real life. There's a balance to be made, too. If you've got too much internal thoughts and emotions going on, it tends to slow the story down, and if you're not careful what you're doing, the reader can get so bogged down in what the character is thinking and feeling that they lose the thread of the story. You get so caught up in the character's feelings about his daughters and the argument he had with his boss and that time he burned himself camping when he was 9 years old that you lose track of the fact he's in a hostage situation being threatened by a psychopath with a hair trigger.

Don't do that. Keep your focus on the story. That advice will serve you well.

Best,
Mark Terry

7 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Viewpoint is always a conundrum for me. I've bee out of ideas for my blog so I stole from you and wrote about this on my blog!

http://www.journalscape.com/ericmayer/2006-10-03-12:01

Congrats on that movie stuff!

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Viewpoint is always a conundrum for me. I've bee out of ideas for my blog so I stole from you and wrote about this on my blog!

http://www.journalscape.com/ericmayer/2006-10-03-12:01

Congrats on that movie stuff!

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Oops. Sorry Mark I seem to have messed up the comments.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Rob Gregory Browne said...

I don't usually have a problem with viewpoint, but now you've got me worried about balance.

Jeez, I thought I was over this insecurity thing.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Rob,
Isn't that always the way? I'm blaming you for my obsessing over this!

11:55 AM  
Blogger R.J. Baker said...

I struggle with POV between 1st person and 3rd Person Omni.

Blog and webpage is looking good-BTW.

RJ

9:23 PM  
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