Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday So What: A Change of Perspective

Recently, I've been beta-reading and macro editing a few peeps manuscripts. Today, I thought I would share one of the most common mistake I found in them -- narrating outside of perspective.

Whether you are writing from 1st person or 3rd person, you still have a point of view. You can't cheat and go outside of it to tell your story.

Changing POV's is another post entirely, so don't get your quills in a knot. I'm talking about the following.

Jane felt unsure. She hoped John was in love with her as well, but she just couldn't risk exposing herself.
John, had finally had enough of Jane's waffling.

Did you catch the problem? In this chapter at least, I am in Jane's head. That means I can only share Jane's feelings, not John's. As the writer, I can show John's frustration, or Jane can infer it from her own feelings, but I can't blanket state his feelings as fact-- because I am not in his head.

Perspective mistakes can also be physical descriptions. This was one of my favorites.

She was coming. Without any spare thought, I dove onto the bed, clamped my eyes shut, and feigned sleep. She came creeping into the room, silent like a cat, but much more sinister. The thin smile on her lips promised revenge that had been long awaited.

Catch that mistake? The MC's eyes are closed. She can't see anything! She would need to narrate in her head, or use the other sense as to what's going on.

This happens all the time, a first person character describing action that is going on behind them. Or from another room. Or describing what they look like. You can't see yourself, so you can't say that red crept across your face.

Sometimes it really sucks to be limited to one POV, I know. Sometimes it would be so much more dramatic to jump heads and give the big bad's reason d'etre (the why). It may take a little more craftwork to get the emotion and info you need across, but it's worth it in the end. You'll keep the reader engaged and into the story from page one until the very last  .


  1. Loved the graphic and your examples. Good thing we have beta-readers, right?

  2. *Sighs* I have a huge problem with this. Thanks for the reminder!



Related Posts with Thumbnails