Friday, July 09, 2010

Point of View Pointers: Method-POV

Have you been told your POV transitions are rough? That your POV head hops? That your characters lack depth?

Consider the method-acting process developed by Constantin Stanislavski of the Moscow Theatre and continued by Leo Strasberg in Hollywood. That’s where the actor wills himself to become the character he’s playing. Some actors/actresses meticulously research their role prior to filming/stage.

Rene Zeilwegger worked two weeks in a London office to train for her role in “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”

What’s the point of this information in an article on writing? Because in writing, the author must become the character in whose point of view the author is writing. Whether writing from the POV of the hero, heroine, villain, or a secondary character, the author must become the character and experience the scene from that character’s body and mind. Record only those things the POV character could experience.

Example when writing from Mary’s POV:
Instead of: John wondered what Mary meant.
That phrase from Mary’s POV should read: John stared. Didn’t he understand what she meant?

Mary cannot know what John is thinking, she can only guess from his facial expression and body language.

Life experience determines a character’s thoughts, dialogue, and actions. The same is true for an internal dialogue—the character’s impressions reflect these past experiences. For instance in my out-of-print story, THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE, the heroine Pearl bakes pastry and bread to sell to the townspeople. When she meets a brown-eyed man, she thinks his eyes are the color of cinnamon. On the other hand, a farmer might think brown eyes the color of fresh-plowed earth. In my June 2010 release, OUT OF THE BLUE, Deirdre thinks Mildred’s hair is like a sunset. Deirdre is a na├»ve young woman who’s been transported from 1845 Ireland to 2010 Texas and doesn’t realize the other woman’s hair is a freakish sight. Keep your POV character’s life condition in mind as your write each scene.

Don’t forget to surround the character with the senses. What does the character see, feel, taste, hear, smell, sense, and perceive as reactions from the others in the scene? Immerse the reader in the character’s impressions. Remember, though, express only what you as the POV character experience. No bouncing around, now.

If you master Method-POV, you will eliminate head hopping. More importantly, because you are deeply in the character’s POV, you will draw the reader in as well. That’s what we want, isn’t it? Readers who can’t put down our books! And, as they say on the movie set, that's a wrap.

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Tomorrow, I want to share a few great reviews with you in addition to a regular blog. Stay tuned--same time tomorrow.


Kathleen said...

Good blog. That must have been some office Renee temped in. I find the hardest POV is a law- enforcement officer

Caffey said...

Hi Caroline! Was just reading your post on Fiona's blog about secondary characters. It was great to reading (and lots of thinking back to shows and the like!) Great reading again on POV. I don't write, but as a reader, I step in feeling like I'm the character seeing and feeling what they are.

By the way I loved both the UNSUITABLE books, that I still have on the keepers shelf. Great you are back writing! Cathie
cathiecaffey @ gmail . com

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Thank you so much for this insightful post. I'm working on a novel and I'm starring it in my reader for further reference.

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