Today I am thrilled to have a guest post from Carol Warham on the very important topic of character viewpoints.
Blurb: Carly Mitchell returns to the small town of Yeardon in Yorkshire almost a year after running away on her wedding day. Now she wants to try to make amends with Steve, his family, and the townspeople who had prepared a huge party to celebrate her New Years Eve wedding.
She intends to stay only for a few days at the Resolution Hotel, owned by Steves parents. However, her plans change when Steves father is taken ill, and she feels obliged to step in and help with running the hotel. This also means having to deal with Steves antagonism since he has never forgiven her for humiliating him.
A further complication comes in the form of Ben Thornton, the local doctor, to whom Carly feels an immediate attraction. They enjoy getting to know each other and falling in love, until a famous model from Bens past arrives in the town, and stays at the hotel.
Steve attempts to get his revenge on Carly by driving a wedge between her and Ben, and by threatening to reveal what he knows about Bens troubled past unless Carly leaves town.
The resolution lies in Carlys hands as she struggles between wanting to flee from the town again and wanting to stay with the man she has grown to love.
Guest post: Viewpoint
As a fledging novelist, viewpoint or the changing of characters’ points of view has been, for me, one of the most difficult things to deal with.
My novel is written from the heroine’s point of view only. I have found it difficult not to slip into other characters POV. Often I would not spot I had done this until it was pointed out to me by my marvellous critique partner. I’m sure she tears her hair out at times!
Usually a viewpoint changes in specific places, paragraphs, chapters, action sequences. My story’s viewpoint must never change. Therefore the actions, thoughts and words of other characters must be either seen, heard or reported back to the heroine. Recently I read a novel where the story head hopped from character to character often without warning. I found this difficult to follow and often had to backtrack to check who was speaking.
One viewpoint I have always been told to avoid is the ‘negative’ viewpoint. For example, ‘Chris didn’t see the man waiting by the corner,’ or ‘Sally didn’t realise who was waiting in the next room.’ If the character doesn’t know these things why has the reader been forewarned about what may be a dramatic scene about to unfold?
Encouraged by my CP I began to delve into what is commonly referred to as Deep POV. Many stories are written from the third person narrative; that is as readers we are ‘watching’ the story unfold on the pages. Deep POV differs from this considerably.
So what is Deep POV? This means getting inside your character’s head, being your character. You can think, feel, hear, taste and touch what she does. You have to be that person. Their thoughts, actions and words must show what they are feeling and move the story along. It is a skill that leads into strong emotive writing. There is no author intrusion; no telling or explaining what the character is feeling or thinking because you don’t tell yourself what you are thinking or feeling do you?
How have I achieved this, or rather tried to achieve this? Firstly I had to dispense with all speech tags. They should not be necessary. Your character will not ‘say something angrily’. Her actions and thoughts will show that she is angry as you feel her anger. Tags can pull the reader away and out of the character’s head. Therefore reminding the reader that they are not that character. They keep a distance between reader and character and this is not what you want.
I had to eliminate sense verbs – “saw, felt, heard, smelt”. Next came the thinking verbs – “thought, remembered” and the emotion naming – “terrified, worried, determined.”
All perceptions must belong to the character and not the author. Would she/he really say/think that? Would you?
One of my scenes, which has caused some amusement and some rethinking involved my heroine becoming inebriated. She notices that her glass never seems to empty. She is puzzled but steadily goes on drinking. My critique partner posed some questions about my handling of the scene and my character’s POV. It wasn’t coming across very well. One question was ‘Who keeps filling her glass?” My reply was simple. If my heroine doesn’t know how do I know? We managed a compromise in the end.
One of the things I found difficult was to delve deep into the heroine’s emotions, feel what she was feeling and then write it. Deep POV is just that going deeper and deeper still into that character’s emotions and feelings, deeper perhaps than you may even go into your own. It is intense and can be emotionally exhausting.
Initially this was a concept I struggled with and still do. It does not come easily to me. However the effort to learn to write like this will take my novel, I hope, to a richer and more professional level.
Writing has been Carol’s love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while. Once the family had grown up she settled down to writing and having published short stories, poems and holiday articles.
In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year.
Earlier this year, she represented her book group on BBC Radio Leeds, talking about books and the work on her novel.
Carol lives in Yorkshire, surrounded by some beautiful countryside, which is ideal for her other passion of walking, often with a dog called Sam. This lovely area is the location for her first novel, Resolution