Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seekerville Welcomes Guest Lynne Marshall

Not Quite There Point of View Syndrome

Nailing POV is one of the toughest things I had to do as a writer, and I still occasionally get called out by my critique partner for messing up. The concept of a character being the “eyes” of the story is monumentally important. One false move and your reader will be thrown out of the story.

The tell-tale signs of Not Quite There Yet POV (from now on will be referred to as NQTY POV) are subtle, but once the reader is on to the error it bugs the heck out of them. I see this most frequently as a contest judge, but I’ve also seen it in published books. Evidently it isn’t a big deal to some editors, or it’s so subtle it slips under the radar.

What am I referring to with NQTY POV?

Everything is going great and then…

The POV character commits the sin of self-description.

There you have it, my pet peeve, and a true breech of POV. The authors, in their eagerness to get their character on paper, have the wrong person describe their physical characteristics.

• How many of us glance at our lap while eating lunch and think of our strong thighs? (Well, maybe someone who has spent years at a gym developing those muscles, and someone who might be a bit in love with themselves.)

• When we run our hand over our hair do we think what color it is or that it’s silky? (Perhaps if you just paid big bucks for a Brazilian blowout)

• Have you ever buttoned your blouse and thought what a great rack you have? (Katy Perry might, or someone who just had breast augmentation, but I’m talking about regular folks. Us!)

Admittedly Bad Example:

Calista stomped across the room in her pink pumps, furious at Giorgio. How could he be so inconsiderate? Gathering her nerve to chew him out, she ran her hands over her curvy hips then spun around and nailed him with her cornflower blue eyes.

Do you see what I’m saying? It doesn’t have to be this obvious, but little slip ups here and there are enough to make for a bumpy reading road. The last thing we want to do is make our books hard to read, right?


When I read stories in contests that have sections like the above example, I suggest to the author that they wait and let the love interest describe the character. A description means more coming from the opposing character. They see things about the other person that the character themselves might not notice or value. Letting the love interest or antagonist physically describe the protagonist brings a whole new dimension to the story.

Let’s fix the above example in Calista’s POV.

Calista stomped across the room, furious at Giorgio. How could he be so inconsiderate? Gathering her nerve to chew him out, she ran her hands over her skirt, then spun around and nailed him with a don’t-mess-with-me stare.

Now let’s give Giorgio a shot:

Calista stomped across the room almost losing her cute little pink pumps. Did she have a clue how sexy she was when she was angry? Giorgio knew she was furious with him, he’d let her down again, but if she’d give him a chance to explain…

She ran her hands over her hips, taunting him with those curves. The gesture sidetracked him. In the middle of imagining caressing every delectable inch of her body, she spun around, nailing him with her best attempt at an intense stare. How was he supposed to take those baby blue eyes seriously?

I hope I’ve helped someone somewhere have a lights-on moment regarding NQTY POV. Now repeat after me – I won’t let any of my characters describe themselves…I won’t let my characters describe themselves.

Lynne Marshall writes category romance for Harlequin Medical Romance and Special Edition. She also writes contemporary romance for The Wild Rose Press. Her next book for Harlequin Special Edition is Courting His Favorite Nurse, and is a March 2012 release.

You can connect with Lynne Marshall on her website, on Facebook here, or her blog.
(And check out Lynne's terrific FREE READS!)

COURTING HIS FAVORITE NURSE Harlequin Special Edition, March 2012 #2178, US

Anne Grady knew better than anyone that love was complicated. When she’d left her hometown, she thought she was leaving her past heartbreak behind for good, as well. But practically the moment she returned to care for her injured parents, she stumbled headlong into their confidant—her first love, Jack Lightfoot.

Jack had been unable to deny his feelings for Annie when he was a teenager dating her best friend, and he certainly couldn’t muffle the spark twisting between them now—even if memories of the past kept threatening to push them apart. This time Jack wasn’t going to let history repeat itself—he was going to show Annie that the two of them were meant to be much more than best friends!


Today Seekerville will be giving away an IOU for Lynne's upcoming release, Courting His Favorite Nurse which releases in March, and Lynne is giving away a copy of Candace Calvert's Disaster Status - an inspirational medical romance from Tyndale to one of our commenters. Two winners! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.


Helen Gray said...

Here's a big pot of Ozark coffee.

I confess I've been nailed on this by contest judges. I also have caught--and corrected--it myself. Does that get me a gold star?

Thanks for the lesson, Lynne.


Vince said...

Hello Lynne:

Is there no place any for the author to speak? As a reader, I have no problem with the below example that you gave:

”Calista stomped across the room in her pink pumps, furious at Giorgio. How could he be so inconsiderate? Gathering her nerve to chew him out, she ran her hands over her curvy hips then spun around and nailed him with her cornflower blue eyes.”

I would think that the above was just the author showing me what is happening. How do you handle a paragraph of physical description to set a scene? This often happens at the start of a chapter. James Michener this very well with landscapes.

Is there no author POV? I’m not clear on this at all. Is this a romance writing thing?


P.S. I still need to post a review of “One For the Road”—5 Star Wonderful!

Lyndee said...

Thanks for the crystal clear examples.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Lynne, I cannot wait for you to try to explain this to Vince!!!


We've got heart shaped Dunkin Donuts to go with Helen's java.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Helen!
Thanks for the coffee :)

I've got a secret - I suspect we all get nailed on this when we first start out. It is a growth process, and the more we write, the more we figure POV out.

I'm so glad you're correcting it yourself now. Yay!

Nancy Kimball said...

Tina, you crack me up. The day job's been hard core extreme for the past week and a half, which is why I haven't been able to hang in Seekerville. Hope everyone is doing great!

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Vince!
I bet most readers don't have a problem with this, but if you think of POV as the camera in the head of the character, Calista might trip as she stomped across that room, while looking down to notice her pink pumps. Does that make any sense? Pointing out pink pumps pulls back the camera and takes us out of close third person point of view.

This is a subtle point, so I hope I haven't confused you more than necessary.

Setting the scene is important, and it is okay to pull that camera back, what we might call omniscient point of view, but to draw in the reader (with romance) we need to pull that camera back in closer and closer until we're solidly in the character's point of view.

And huge hugs and thank yous for the kind thoughts on One for the Road - my older heroine contemporary romance. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Lyndee!
I am so glad to know I made sense.

Thanks for commenting.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Tina!
How'd I do? LOL
Now, please pass those donuts. Yum.

Thank you for the warm welcome.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Nancy -
I hope your day job settles down a bit the rest of this week.

Hanging at Seekerville sounds like a fun thing to do on a regular basis.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Lynne, what time is it where you are?
It's 11:00 here in Denver.

Lynne Marshall said...

It's 10 pm (we're an hour behind) I was just checking to see if the blog was up for tomorrow, and I was surprised to see it up - so I dove right in.

I am going to be now though, so will check back first thing in a.m. with some of that fine Ozark coffee I'm saving from Helen. :)

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Lynne,

I haven't been nailed on this one (YET!), but I haven't been aware of it, either. I'll be sure to be vigilant as I work on my WIP.

I was curious about Vince's question, and thought maybe NQTY POV was a modern thing. So I picked an older book off the shelf and turned to the first pages to see how the author handled POV and descriptions. The book I ended up with was "Wind in the Willows", written in 1908 by an Englishman, no less. Now this is a book where I'd expect to hear the author's voice loud and clear.

But no. The opening scene, where Mole is getting frustrated with his spring cleaning and finally says "hang it all" and goes out to explore the world, is full of description. But even though the narrator's voice is evident, the description is all from Mole's POV. It's a great example of keeping the POV with the protagonist.

If you haven't read it yet, WITW is free for the Kindle. You only need to read the first page or two to see what I mean.

I brought cookies to go with Helen's coffee. Chocolate chip ones, made with Godiva chocolate, because, of course,

I want chocolate!

Good night, everyone!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Sweet dreams and see you in the am!!!

We'll keep the coffee, donuts and conversation going!!!

Don't forget addition to 2 books to giveaway today it's another Godiva give away in our week of chocolate!!!

Kara said...

Hello Lynne! Thanks for such a helpful lesson in NQTY POV and I will repeat, I won't let my characters describe themselves :)

Love your examples, that was definitely a lights-on moment for me. Enjoy the coffee and donuts :) I would love to be entered for both books, they both sound good! And I want chocolate!
Blessings Seekers :)

Robin Bielman said...

"I won't let any of my characters describe themselves." Great post, Lynne! And I love your picture. Can't wait to read all about your newest characters!

Janie Emaus said...

That was a great post. I try really hard not let this happen.

Cindy W. said...

Very informative blog today. THank you Lynne.

Since I have a medical background I love reading books with a medical theme. Thank you for the giveaways.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


pol said...

Good Morning Seekerville and Lynne Marshall, anyday there is chocolate giveaway and books I will be there for sure, Too much descriptions in a book I suppose there could be but I usually like to read about description of character and landscape of where they are and then I can see them in my minds eye. I am just a reader and not a writer so what do I know, put me in this drawing please girls.
Paula O(

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome, Lynne! This is always a tricky one, isn't it even when I try so hard to get it right!

Please give us some tips for how we can let the reader "see" our opening primary character when the scene is in their POV for anywhere from 5-15 pages or more. You hate to have readers picture your heroine as petite with long brown hair and blue eyes only for them to find out from the hero's POV a dozen pages later that she's a tall, short-haired redhead with green eyes. Yet the mirror thing has long been frowned upon.

Some authors go overboard with the POV character describing themselves where it's not appropriate and it ways that intrude on the scene, but it seems there's some leeway as there is a certain element of self-awareness that we all have -- how we picture ourselves and are ever-conscious of ourselves. If my heroine fluffs her short hair in an opening scene, it would seem to me she's aware of her hair being short and it seems okay to communicate that to a reader.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

POV is so much more complicated than "a view through a character's eyes", isn't it? I remember when I first started writing, I had NO IDEA what POV was. Now that I do, I find it hard to read books that handle POV poorly.

Good post, Lynne!

MaryC said...

Good morning, Lynne. What a fabulous example and you really showed how rewriting can power up a scene.
I've tried to wipe this from my writing because it makes me CRAZY when I read it, but I suspect I'm guilty of doing it here or there.
I wrote a scene recently that I think I'd better go give a second look. ;)

Thanks for posting today.

Bridgett Henson said...

Thanks for the POV reminder, Lynne.

One of my pet peeves as a reader is when a character describes themselves negatively. Maybe she thinks her nose is too long or her hips to wide.

Even if the love interest corrects this perception, for the rest of the book, I'm picturing Pinocchio and gargantuan hips.

Did I hear we have more chocolate? I'm in for that.

Kirsten Arnold said...

Hi Lynne,

Great post! Characters self-describing is one of my pet peeves, as well. For me, especially when it's the hero raking his fingers through his soft black wavy locks. Really? I could be wrong, but the men I know wouldn't know how to describe their hair let alone think about it when their frustrated enough to rake fingers through it. :o)


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Lynne, Welcome to Seekerville.

Thanks for the great post. This will be wonderful for beginning writers I remember when I started I wondered what in the world were they talking about when they said POV. You made the example clear and concise.

What drives me crazy is to have to analyze a good book when I'm reading. I just want to sit back and enjoy.

I must admit, when I'm reading, I don't notice all this stuff. Maybe that's why it shows up in my writing. LOL

Thanks again for your insight.

And Jan, I'll take some of those cookies with Godiva. yum.

Glynna Kaye said...

What I like about how Lynne "cleaned up" Calista's scene is that it makes it seem more immediate, with no distractions-- yet my mind's eye clearly pictures her. It's the emotion of the scene I'm caught up in.

In my October 2012 book, the first scene opens in the hero's POV--I don't describe how he LOOKs (hair & eye color, height, weight, build, etc) except that he's in a cop's uniform (a little boy comments on his badge) and he has his arm in a sling (he massages his injured shoulder) -- but I've had beta readers tell me they had no trouble picturing him and weren't even aware I hadn't given him a physical description until the heroine's POV scene. Do you think the "cop hero" designation came with its own set of expectations?

From a reader's perspective, how necessary is it to have the opening POV character described in much physical detail at all?

Debra E. Marvin said...

Debbie sat at the keyboard, running her hand through her --ouch, what a snarly mess-- winter-dry hair. The words came quickly until she glanced down and pondered the width of her thighs. ITALICS: I really must stop wearing sweat pants. They are so forgiving...

See Vince? now that's okay from the character's POV because this poor slob is actually thinking about the description of her self.

But in Callista's case, she is obviously NOT thinking about her silky hair and knockout figure, but being angry, so it's out of place. Well, it is to any writer with sore knuckles from getting them whacked too often for author intrusion.

It's all about the camera. What are we seeing through the POV's eyes.
Internal thoughts are different, but no one who is angry is taking the time to think about her hips...unless she's angry about her hips.

needless to say, don't put me in the drawing for chocolate. Thank you.

Debra E. Marvin said...

Helen, can you inform me about Ozark coffee?

Glynna Kaye said...

Great example, Debra. When the emotion is high or the action intense, that's not the time for a POV character to stop and describe themselves.

Jamie Adams said...

I won’t let any of my characters describe themselves…I won’t let my characters describe themselves.

Thanks Lynne, your examples were very helpful. I'm editing my work today and will pay close attention to who is describing who!

Maria from 'gaelikaa's diary' said...

There are so many things we have to learn as writers. This post has been a breakthrough post for me, because I really learnt something. Thank you Lynne, that was valuable.

Christine Ashworth said...

Excellent post, Lynne! I've been guilty of this in the past but I never thought of the camera angle - what a great idea. Thanks for that tip!

Julie Lessman said...

Uh-oh, Lynne -- you caught me!! Read your excellent blog and immediately went to my WIP!! Have a question about this, however. If the heroine can SEE her hair, is it okay to state the color? For instance:

Hair askew, Cassie blew blonde strands from her eyes along with a feather now broken and dangling over the rim of the “fashionable” hat Mama begged her to wear.

One of my pet peeves is the author NOT giving me description right out the gate because I want to see what the character looks like as soon as possible. I hate imagining one thing and finding out pages later that she looks like something else. I know we usually have cover models, but it's been my experience that they don't always look like the author describes.



Andrea Strong said...

Giorgio's distraction is gonna earn him a fiery rant from Calista, I'm afraid. Perhaps he's man enough to take it.

I'm pretty new at this, and not very good at it yet, as only a few can testify, but I'll throw in my two cents.

In an omniscient POV story, there would be nothing really wrong with the sample paragraph. But in a Deep POV story that pulls from only one or two characters' minds, this omniscient paragraph sticks out like a sore thumb. It's like all the sudden we switched from Calista's "camera" to the "camera of some invisible and uninvolved third party in the room.

I'd love to win either book.

andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

Marianne said...

How did i miss the Harlequin Medical series? My mom's dream of becoming a nurse when she was side-tracked with marriage to a funeral director. No time. So i need to find these. i'm most definitely a writer except of reviews, but can have caught that same thing in a few novels, which i then blame on the publisher/editor. Thanks for the post and opportunity to win.

Jeanne T said...

Lynne, your example of NQTY POV with Calista was great! You made it so clear what NQTY POV looks like, and I loved how you added a completely different flavor when you shared the scene from Giorgio's POV. It seemed like, when you took out the self-descriptors, it was easier to go into a deeper POV with Calista.

Though I've never had a character look in a mirror to describe herself, I've been guilty of it in more subtle ways.

What is a good way to bring description in at the beginning of the book? I'm having trouble getting it in in a natural way. Looking forward to reading your answers to the questions here today. :)

BTW, I want chocolate! :)

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Lynne! I'm guessing most of us have made that POV error. I used to have the character look into a mirror and describe herself, which is lazy. The fun thing about having the other character describe the heroine and vice versa, is the reader gets to see how the POV character's feelings for the other person impact his perceptions.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Bringing in more donuts. DD special this month is pink and chocolate hearts. Seriously. I got an email from Dunkin'. I'm on their mailing list. How appropo.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Jan!
I loved Wind in the Willows and read it aloud to my kids - though that was many many years ago.

What we currently call deep point of view is perhaps a newer trend, but one that is very popular. To be true to the pov character- we stay deep in their heads. Purists believe that means you can't be pulling that camera back to describe something, then move it back behind the protagonists eyes, then move it out etc. It might make the reader sea sick! :)

Omniscient POV was big at the turn of the last century (since we're the turn of our current century - mind blowing isn't it?)

I believe the current trend is to write close to the character, whether that be close third or first person POV. I believe the trend is to treat 3rd person POV as if it were first person.

Clear as mud?

Thanks for the delicious cookies - they go good with my morning coffee, and who says you can't begin the day with chocolate????

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Kara!
I love that name. I'm glad my example was helpful for you, and I hope you win something this week!


Mary Connealy said...

This is a nice lesson, Lynne. I'm actually struggling with this with my wip just a bit.

My first scene Hero getting arrested for a crime he's been framed for. Him and a nervous deputy are the only ones in the scene and it's his POV. How to describe him!?

Next scene heroine, I manage to work description in there, then she gets hit by a flood and swept away to hero's arms, where she exchanges a few blurry's in HIS pov. Then she passes out and sleeps until dark.

YOu see how this is going? I'm four scenes into the book and I haven't described him yet.

And that's a shame because he's gorgeous.
Maybe the deputy could say, "Step away from the saddle bags you tall, dark and handsome scoundral?

(well, THAT needs work!)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Robin!
That picture was taken last summer at RWA national conference before the black and white Harlequin party. Had a great time. :)
Now, keep repeating...

Janie! - I'm sure you don't have this problem, but just in case repeat with Robin - I won't have my characters describe themselves.

Thank you both for commenting.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Cindy W.
I'm so happy to hear my blog was informative for you.

If you like medical themes in stories, you will LOVE the Candace Calvert Mercy Hospital series. She is a ground breaker for inspirational medical romance.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Mary Connealy said...

In Petticoat Ranch, when it was doing the contest circuit before it was published, there was one sentence that I got schooled on by judges a few times.
I got told this one line in the book was in the MULE'S POV.

The mule, Hector, was walking up the steep trail along a creek bank, dragging a man who'd fallen over to safety in front on an on coming flood.

The scene is in heroine Sophie's POV and she KNOWS her mule. Add in Sophie's frantic thoughts as those floodwaters come which wills weep her, the hero and both of Sophie's older girls away to their deaths.

And Sophie thinks Hector is hurrying not so much to save them, since Hector is a troublesome beast, but to save himself.
But this is all 'thought' in Sophie's head.

Hector hurried to get his mangy hide to the top of the creek and if he saved the rest of them, well, that had nothing to do with him.

I was told that was in Hector's POV but it wasn't, Sophie just knew her mule. But I thought it was clunky to say. Sophie knew Hector hurried to get his mangy hide to the top of the creek and if ....etc.

Anyway, POV is tricky. I still find places, including in published books, where I jumped to a different POV and back inside a scene. And you know, that wouldn't be so bad if I did it DELIBERATELY.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Pol -
I think, as a reader, you nailed it. You want to be in the minds eye of the character you're reading about. That character will describe the surroundings, and often very intricately. The interesting thing is how each character in a book will look at the same settings and describe them as only they would see it. They each bring their personality and character into everything they see for the reader.

Good luck with the prizes!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I for one salute my coffee in your honor, Lynne. You are up WAAY early for your part of the country.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Glynna - another lovely name.
This is another tough yet important question. Personally, I don't care if the character is thoroughly described in a book at the very beginning. It isn't an obligation. The reader will grow to know your character as the story unfolds.
However, you can drop in hints about what they look like - without knocking the reader over the head with a long description.

Yes, she can finger her hair and wonder why she'd cut it so short, or wish that she had hair the color of her best friend instead of the rotten red she'd been stuck with. Give us her feelings about her appearance in a natural way, not forced because now is the time to describe this character. She can glance at her feet and cringe wishing she didn't have such big feet, or she may notice her skirt seems too short because she's so tall. This paints a picture for your reader without doing a run down of traits - eyes - green, check. nose - pert - check, tall, short, wide - you catch my drift, right?

I'm a firm believer that the love interest (if it is romance) or a very significant character in the story (if not a romance) should be the one to notice the color of eyes and hair etc.

I hope this helps!

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Cynthia!
Thanks for stopping by and reading this post. Yes, it is funny, we sit down and decide to write a book, only then realizing there is a method to our favorite author's madness. LOL
Writing requires a life-long learning curve - but what a kick that journey is.

Carol Moncado said...

Ooooo - a Candy book! I <3 Candy!

But I already have all of hers. I'd love to be entered for Lynne's :).

Mary - I think your description from the arresting officer is perfectly fine ;).

I write in first person mostly. It makes it HARDER [though not impossible] to head-hop and do this sort of thing. I know I have though.

Back at work today - thanks to all of you for praying for me the last couple weeks. I did, however, use my teacher's perorgative and move the movie up to today/Tuesday instead of a week or so from now.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Mary C!
I am so glad my example helped put POV in focus for you.

I'm embarassed to say it was an agent who had the good heart to line edit my submission - saying she would be very happy to re-read it after I'd made a few changes. All I saw was red on those pages and I could hardly bring myself to revise.

POV is often a painful experience for writers. My critique partner still questions whose pov I'm in from time to time. sigh.

Carol Moncado said...

Mary - I think a book from the mule's POV would be great fun! I once read a story told from the POV of a ficus tree. And a half-dead one at that. Think I read another one from the POV of a fish...

Short stories mind you but still.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Bridgett - that is an interesting pet peeve. Self-image is something most of us battle with, so it might be more realistic to think about a feature of ours and go negative instead of positive.

Thank you for pointing out what bothers you as a reader. I suggest you let that love interest be the one to truly see your long nosed wide-hipped protagonist, and see her both ways - the way she thinks she is and the way he sees and accepts her. Usually - this type of negative beginning is part of the conflict for the character.

Good luck with the chocolate.

Tina Radcliffe said...

After you have a chance to grab your beverage of wake-up choice, Lynne, you'll have to tell us a bit about your journey to publication. We love those tales around here.

Lynne Marshall said...

Oh, Kristen, you've made me laugh. So true - if a hero rakes his fingers through his (insert any description other than hair. period) hair - I worry that he may not be the least bit interested in the heroine! LOL

This brings up a whole 'nuther topic - make the way the guy describes your girl character realistic. Guys aren't going to use flower words to describe a woman in contemporary books. they may like the heroine's hair and wonder how it would feel to run their fingers through it, but don't overdo the soft, luxurious, tendrils - do you know any guys who would use tendrils for hair? Or locks? To guys hair is hair, no matter how hard the author is trying not to be repetitious with her words. LOL.
Disclaimer: Historicals are a different situation.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Sandra L,
Thanks so much for having me as a guest blogger at Seekerville today.

I don't analyze when i read for pleasure, but what I notice is when I'm thrown out of a scene. Usually there is something like a breech in POV that is the culprit.

On an organic level - I suspect most readers notice things like that too - they're sailing along inside the character's head, then suddenly something doesn't fit - they may not be able to put their finger on it, but something threw them out of the scene.

Our job is to keep the reader smack in the middle of the action.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Lynne! Thank you for the fine examples of staying in POV.

I'm currently reading a series of British detective novels that from time to time uses the "Little did they know" omniscient POV, and it's jarring every time it occurs.

In a side note: Georgiana Daniels made her first sale to Love Inspired! Woohoo for my crit partner!! So proud of her for writing through the hard times!

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Glynna!
Oh - I so agree! YAY. Readers will see what they want to see, it is the feeling of being in that scene that you've set.
Your beta readers are right.

For me - less is more is the key - Some wonderful authors don't ever thoroughly describe their characters. The point is to tell a good story and let the reader see what they want. You might describe Antonio Banderas but they're gonna see George Clooney - because that's the kind of guy they like.

I think your book opening example is purrrrfect!

Lynne Marshall said...

Debra E. Marvin -


Re: Ozark coffee -

I don't have a clue either, but I am assuming it is STRONG. :)

Helen Gray said...


It's Ozark coffee if it's made by an Ozarkian hillbilly.

Lynne Marshall said...

Jamie Adams - you're a peach!

Thanks for taking my blog to heart. Good luck with editing today. :)

Joanne Sher said...

Lynn - great info! I'm wondering how this is handled if you write in only one character's POV. Just have to be extremely subtle?

thanks - and please enter me.

Lynne Marshall said...

Maria from Gaelikka's diary (sorry if I misspelled that)


Yay - give this girl some chocolate. LOL

Myra Johnson said...


Outstanding POV instruction, Lynne! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom in Seekerville today!

Single POV was probably the first and most important lesson I learned as a newbie writer. Then I had to learn how to dig deeper and stay in close POV, and that seemed to take me a long, loooong time.

What I remember most from my earliest lessons on POV is learning to imagine the scene SOLELY through the eyes, ears, nose, touch, taste, and thoughts of the POV character. If they aren't consciously aware of something, the reader can't know it either.

The next step for me has been learning to write in third-person as if it comes from inside the POV character's head--their expressions, intonations, thoughts, and feelings, just like you showed in Giorgio's POV example.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Christine -
I think all writers have been guilty of this at some point. It's part of the learning process.

I'm glad the camera angle clicked with you (get the pun?) ;)

The other important word I read today - I believe Debra said it?
Author intrusion.

Yup - stay out of the way of your characters - let them tell the story - which doesn't include self description.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Good morning,

Thanks for the post, Lynne. I still slip up from time to time with POV issues and it's usually in character description.

But I SO AGREE with Glynna and Julie. As a reader, I HAVE to know right away what the character looks like or I can't picture her/him and it drives me CRAZY! My poor critique partners - I'm constantly asking them to include more descriptions so I can remember what the character looked like.

I don't need too much information at first, but at least the hair color is crucial.

Recently read a new book by Nora Roberts and she does the omnicient author thing the first few pages until she sets the character up. That did bug me a bit - as well as the head hopping. There are better ways to do it within the character's POV (without using a mirror!).

With girls it's easier because if they have long hair they can usually see it, so you can have them 'pull her blond curls into a loose pony tail' or 'flip a dark strand of hair off her face'. Some little thing like that to let the reader know she's a brunette or a blond. Eye color can come later.

Hopefully something that small and subtle wouldn't make or break a writing contract! LOL.

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Julie!
Thank you for raising an important point - some readers want to be told how the character looks, and others won't even notice the character hasn't been descirbed yet because they are so engrossed in the action of the scene.

I'll be honest and say - nope - she wouldn't notice her blond hair because she's lived with it her entire life - and, I don't know about you but, when I blow hair out of my face I don't notice the color...unless I just had it weaved and I'm like - wow - I went blond blond this time, didn't I.

Does that make sense?

Lynne Marshall said...

For someone "new" at this - YOU NAILED IT!

Great job explaining.

Vince - did that helP? :)

What Debra and Andrea said.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Marianne!
You've missed the Harlequin Medical Romance line because the books never make it into stores in the US. We are based in England, and have a big and loyal European following - they love their doctor nurse stories over ther. :)

The Medical Romance line is only available via the Harlequin website in US, and there are subscribers who get each months books delivered to their door.

Go to the HQN website and click on Medical Romance to see this month's offerings.

Medical Romance authors write big stories in little books and are the best kept secret at Harlequin.

So glad I've enlightened you. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Jeanne T.

Hi! and I am so glad you found my example helpful.

My question to you is - why do we have to begin a book with character description? Doesn't that just put off getting into the guts of the story.

Begin with the inciting incident and you will probably have a hero around to help slip in a few descriptions.

My suggestion: Don't bog down the beginning of a book with heavy character description. Get into the story, your readers won't notice it's missing.

Is there a writing rule that says we must describe our characters on page 1-5? Let the story flow. It's about the story above all else.

Others may disagree, but I'm the guest blogger today.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Janet - thank you for the warm welcome.

I agree with everything you said.

Lynne Marshall said...

Mary - Best wishes on your WIP - it sounds like a good one!

I suspect your readers will just know this guy is TDH, so don't fret about it.

When the heroine gets swept into his arms, can he notice how tiny she feels or something?

If the first scene is in his POV and the second scene is hers, before you move back into his 2nd POV scene - can you have what we call a sequel scene, they're usually short, with some inner thought going on in your heroine's head about the freakishly good looking man who has rescued her?

Actions scenes (action, reaction, decision) need a buffer and sequel scenes (reaction, dilemma, decision) do the job - plus it would give you the opportunity to get in some hero description.

Did that help any? Or did I open the door for another craft blog on Scenes and Sequels?

Bueller? Anyone?

Linnette R Mullin said...

Great advice, Lynne! Thank you! I'm sharing this post with some of my writer friends. The subtle POV injuries were especially helpful to me. I don't think I transgressed there, but they're so subtle I'll have to run back through and check. Thank you, thank you! :D

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Mary - I didn't read your sentence as in the mule's POV but a couple of tiny changes could have saved any questions at all.

You wrote: The mule, Hector, was walking up the steep trail along a creek bank, dragging a man who'd fallen over to safety in front on an on coming flood.

How about: Her mule Hecter walked up the steep trail along the creek bank, dragging a man she'd seen fall.
This plants the inner thoughts firmly inside her head.

Digging for Pearls said...

Welcome Lynne. Great reminders today and things to chew on for a while.

Jodie Wolfe

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Carol - great minds think alike on the cop scene. :)

I see you have impeccable taste if you have all of Candace Calvert's books. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Erica V!
I'm glad you liked my examples of NQTYPOV.

Little did we know, that while we were chatting at Seekerville - Erica's friend, Georgina SOLD TO LOVE INSPIRED!
Congrats to her. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Joanne Sher!
I have never written 1s person POV - except for one of my short and sweet free reads (see my website), and I take my hat off to those staunch first person writers. It is truly an art form. I suppose physical description can come out in conversation?

Many romances (a while back) only had the heroine's POV and it drove me nuts not to know what was going on in the heroe's mind. It truly takes a talented writer to pull of that single pov story.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Myra!
Thanks for having me here today.

Your examples are clear and concise. Should be very helpful for the Seekerville readers.

funny about Debra being inside your head.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Susan - I suspect editors have less of a problem with pure POV than writers - since I've read a lot of books that do slip in and out.

For those who must have descriptions early on - how often do you see it when you read published books? All I can suggest is that you notice how the author pulled it off - if it worked or if it was clunky.

I'd honestly only notice that I pulled my hair into a pony tail, not what color it is. But that's just me. Like you said, I don't think slipping in a color of hair will ruin a book.

As someone else mentioned, in a perfect world, the characters on the book cover would save the author from forced early description if the cover actually looked like the characters.

I've had black-haired heroines on my cover who were described as honey blonds in my books. sigh

Lynne Marshall said...

Linette! I'm so happy to be of service.

Thank you for reading and sharing this blog. :)

Debra E. Marvin said...

Julie brought up a great point--which is so individual. How much to describe? How soon? She wants to know ASAP what she's looking at. Not everyone feels that way and we get 'dinged' for too much.

I just heard 'I don't care what she looks like here...' on a crit. Today!

I guess it's a matter of making yourself happy (and your editor), and the emotion and pacing of your opener.

Helen - about that coffee. I have completely missed the fact there's a coffee growing region in the Ozarks... or not.

Lynne Marshall said...

Jodi - digging for pearls - thank you for having me as a guest blogger.

Well, I've made it through the first phase of comments - now I'm off to have some breakfast.

I'll see you folks a bit later.

Write on!

Virginia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Virginia said...

Sorry! Typo that made no sense!

Here's the comment... again.

See? This is why writing a romance is SO hard. If this were practically any other genre, we could just leave out a lot of the character descriptions. But nooo, We must show how they're attractive to the hero/heroine.

And if you don't know what you're doing, then it gets all wonky. Or technically, NQT POV.

I think one of my first contest entries last year, my FIRST LINE was : she pushed her auburn hair off her forehead and thought to herself (blah blah blah). EVERY judge caught it.

Two lines later there was 'a small frown line between her bright hazel eyes'. UGH. It's humiliating to share this.

Anyway, this is such a great post. Love Lynne Marshall, love Seekerville!

Vince said...

Hi Jan:

I just read the opening to “The Wind in the Willows” and I really liked it but I thought that, since moles don’t really talk, that everything written was from the point of view of the author speaking to the reader. I think this is a very technical area and one very worthy of investigation.

Consider one of my favorite all time writers. Jane Austen in ”Emma”:

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vet her.
She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father; and had, in consequence of her sister’s marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period.”

Could Jane Austen even be published today? An editor would only have to read the first paragraph before throwing the manuscript in the trash!

As an avid reader, I know the author is there to tell me a story. I don’t mind if the author takes the time to set the stage. In a way, I resent authors who won’t set the stage. Authors who dribble out essential information like bread crumbs that I’m suppose to gobble up thankfully. This is like maintaining reader interest by giving the reader caffeine instead of a story that is a compelling read on its own merits.

I just love Abigail Gordon, who writes medical books, because she sets the story up so well at the start. If you set the story up quickly then you can get to the really good stuff right away – that is if you have enough really good suff to last a novel.

Anyway, I hope this makes sense.


Virginia said...


Virginia said...

Mary, that is totally right about Hector. I wouldn't think that was Hector's POV, but rather the observer understanding that the mule wasn't going to save anybody but himself. I think those kind of comments are hilarious!
You and Jonathon Stroud are masters of this.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Congratulations to Ms. Daniels!!!

We love sales!!!

Lynne, eat a good breakfast. You are breaking records around here with 87 comments before noon.

Robena Grant said...

Excellent post Lynne. I love all of the comments and examples, and your answers. Always nice to have a reminder about these things so we get the opp to go take another look before hitting send.

No chocolate for me. But I will take a refill on the coffee. : )

Vince said...

Hi Lynne:

Your analogy of the camera being in the background for initial descriptions and up close from the character’s POV (like a handheld cinema verite film) goes a long way in making this clear for me.

I was thinking that NQTY POV was more a form of head-hopping and that didn’t seem to ring true. I don’t think your example would pull the reader out of the story as head-hopping would. However, I have to admit that your rewrites were much better to read…at least given the specific example. )But sometimes, cinema verite is annoying!

I actually wrote a post once about using physical description to mirror the emotional state of the character who is ‘seeing’ the physical world. The hero goes into the courthouse and sees the trees and flowers in a beautiful and positive way but when he comes out, after getting very bad news, he sees the same landscape as sick and dying (as in Eliot’s line: “April is the cruelest month”). The landscape didn’t change but the character did. I understand description from the character’s POV but this concept of NQTY POV hit me from out of left field!

I know enough not to have a character describe herself in first person as people don’t do that. I also know not to use clichés such as looking in a mirror. I thought that third person kind of solved that problem. But now, I have to rethink.

Writing really is like peeling an onion. You think you understand something (finally) and then you discover there are more layers!!!

I have to think more about this today. I really changed what I was going to think about today.

Please come back and talk about ‘characters’. I think the characters in “One for the Road” are more memorable to me today then many real people I know. BTW: I did not have any problem with the heroine having an affair so soon after her husband’s death. But I’m a man. The important thing is how women readers are going to like it.


P.S. Will there be a sequel “Two to Tango?” Kinda catchy, don’t you think?

Vince said...

Hi Debra:

You wrote:

"Well, it is to any writer with sore knuckles from getting them whacked too often for author intrusion."

I can see what you are saying here and I think the key term is “author intrusion”. One person’s “author intrusion” is what another person loves most about Jane Austen. : )

As the Romans like to say: “Who will watch the watchmen”?

“Who is there to tell us when rules are fads that have expiration dates?”

I guess I’m just too old and skeptical. : )


Connie Queen said...

Welecom Lynne!

I want chocolate.

A couple of years ago I met w/a critique group when we got on this discussion.

Question: If we're in hero's pov, can he remove his black Stetson hat? Can his spurs jingle as he crosses the boardwalk?
One lady said no, that he wouldn't be thinking about his Stetson being black or his spurs jingling. To be in deep pov, can we only describe what the character is thinking?
He knows his Stetson is black, but he wouldn't think it. He wouldn't even think about removing his hat. It would just be an action.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, sweet response to a great author and awesome Harlequin line!

I'm with Teeeena, I'm hawkin' in on the donuts and lovin' some fresh coffee!!!

And lookin' at what Vince has to say, LOL!

I have to go check my WIP now and see if I've messed up because I'm so bugged when I read that in other people's stuff and I know I do it...

Good reason to police myself!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, sorry to interrupt:

Link to Live Chat with LI author Emily Rodmell, then come back here and share the love with Lynne!

Chat starts at 1:00 PM EST

Connie Queen said...


As a reader, I have no problem w/the author speaking either. I just want a good entertaining story.

Has anyone read Swimming at Night? I don't remember the author. The herione was overweight. I'd like to go back to see how she handled describing herself. It may've been written in first person.

Jamie Adams said...

Ruthy can I sit next to you in the chat room?

Tina, I am so desperate for chocolate I had to eat a bowl of my kids coco puffs. It's just not the same.

Jan Drexler said...

I'm sitting on Ruthy's other side, Jamie. We can talk about her behind her back until the chat starts.

Tina Radcliffe said...

When I get desperate for chocolate..usually when trying correctly write POV..I make simple brownies. Recipe at the Yankee Belle.

Cocoa Puffs ARE a poor substitute.

Digging for Pearls said...

Whoo! Hoo! Just had to share. I find out I made it somewhere within the top 25 (out of 110) for Operation First Novel with Christian Writers Guild. Didn't make it as a finalist (in the top 10), but it still provided a boost of confidence that I'm getting closer to someday being published. :)

Jodie Wolfe

Tina Radcliffe said...

Congratulations, Jodie!!!

Lots of good news today. Lynne must be good luck!!!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

SO many comments already!

I understand your examples, Lynne, but I must admit, I'm also on Julie's, Glynna's and Susan's sides when they mention NEEDING to know a character's description. I think there are lots of sneaky ways to get this in, without using a mirror. It's tough, but I hate NOT knowing, and getting a picture in my head. It doesn't have to be detailed down to the five freckles on their nose, but a brief sketch of their appearance never pulls me out of the story.

Case-in-point: my husband recently read a book in which he found out the main character is African-American. 300 pages in. It was a little jarring, to say the least.

However, another book I read started in the middle of an action sequence in Russia, where the main character is called a Russian slur for the "n-word" right on the first page. The reader is immediately alerted to the fact that the character is black, and since he's coming out of a fancy restaurant at the time, you can infer he's well-to-do.

I am enjoying hearing everyone else's POV on this!

Lynne Marshall said...

Dear Virginia, I love you, too!

Sharing our mistakes helps others learn - so good for you.

Keeping POV straight is one tough job.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Robena!
It's so lovely to see you here. Yes, this is one busy blog, and I'm loving the interaction.

We only serve Ozark coffee here - Enjoy!

I'll take your share of the Godiva chocolate. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Vincent! Where do I begin. :)
First - your example of Jane Austin is perfect. Thas was the style of writing in her time. Currently, we are in a more immediate climate - Fast food, Amazon over bookstores - whispernet! microwaves - on and on.
Telling doesn't fly like it used to. However - I hear you on the author taking the time to set up the story. I believe that is why Bonnet books and small town stories are in vogue these days. People need to sit down, take a long, slow breath, and relax into a story once in a while.
I've heard editor/agent panels say "what's the rush?" Why are authors all jumping in so fast in the beginning of books?
Part of the answer is because that is what we were told they wanted five years ago. Now we're all doing it, and they want us to slow down. Sheesh! (insert frustrated expression here)

I believe there is a balance and we can find it, we just have to be vigilant about our process.

I am so glad to know I've provoked your thoughts today (or just plain old provoked you! ha ha)

And - as for One for the Road (Two to Tango is adorable, BTW) I have been told over and over that the characters are memorable and realistic. My heart swells every time I hear that! Oh, and not one reader has complained about D'Anne finding love again after her husbands fairly recent passing. I believe it is because she goes through all of the stages of moving on, just in a tad more rushed manner.

More hugs coming your way. Write that review and post it at Amazon please? I need more interest in that book! :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Connie! Thank you for the welcome. You've raised a very intersting point. My question to you is - how deep in POV do you want to go?

I suspect if you polled this group of readers and you said - what is your first thought when a person says Stetson - we'd say "black"
Your question asks if we even need to say Stetson. Well, no, not in his POV. The spur jingling and fine figure of a man stuff can come out in dialogue or in the heroine's POV.

We're opening a whole can of worms about how to describe our characters. I believe times have changed in how writers go about this. Our minds eyes will see the characters that are fully developed - physically described or not. Their characters and personalities will force us to visualize someone - that person may not look like the character the writer had in mind, but the important thing is, a strong image is developed for the reader.

Am I making any sense?

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Ruth! Wonderful to meet you.

Like anything in life, once we become aware of something, we see it all over the place.

Thanks for sharing the love.

Lynne Marshall said...


Repeat after me - Yes, I will be published.

You're closer than you think. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Queen Stephanie (sorry, couldn't resist) what a great name - and you get to throw in Ludwig, too!

Your examples of getting the point across soon and briefly is great.

All I can say is be a little patient and let the author unpack her story at her own pace. Vince doesn't like the bread crumb technique, but sometimes, that's how the description is doled out.

I repeat - Dialogue is a good way to get some description out there. Insecure thoughts about certain features is another. Seeing an attractive redhead and worrying about our mousy brown hair is another.

Our job as writers is a hard one,isn't it?

Debra E. Marvin said...

Oh Vince, so true.
We'd have to dump most of classic literature if we went by today's standards and then what kind of movie collection would I have?

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Lynne,

I still remember my Eureka Moment when I realized how POV worked. Once the lightbulb went on, it was easy to recognize NQTY! Up until then, I was in the dark.

Thanks for shedding light on the subject today.

Melanie Dickerson said...

I caught myself slipping into omniscience just yesterday when I should have been in my heroine's POV. I also struggle with staying in deep POV. I'm always slipping in a "she wondered why he was staring at the dog," instead of "Why was he staring at the dog like that?"

And really, deep POV is just another example of show don't tell.

Anyway, great post, Lynne! Your book sounds great!

PatriciaW said...

As a reader, Lynne, we share this pet peeve. Throws me completely out of the character's POV because I, like you, wonder whether she'd really think of herself in that self-descriptive manner.

But there are exceptions. There might be a reason that Calista thinks about her pumps as pink, like the fact that she was just about to go upstairs and change into the navy ones, and that would be fine, I think. It all depends on context, or maybe lack of context.

As a writer, won't swear that I've conquered this. I'm sure it's all over my first draftsm, but I definitely look for it in revision.

Anonymous said...

Great post on POV! I can't say I've read every single comment, but it sure did spark quite a discussion. I know it would (and has) driven me nuts when the character has started describing their own ruggedly handsome visage, or their curvy hips. As far as what a character looks like, sometimes less is more. I don't need characters described down to the smallest detail and I don't need to be reminded every chapter. Nancy aka sheandeen

Whitney said...

Good afternoon, Lynne!

Interesting post and small debate going on in Seekerville today. :p

I was called out on a small POV “mishap” like this in a contest I entered recently. I am seeing that POV description is sort of subjective among readers, writers, and editors. If I remember correctly, this used to not be a big deal. It seems as though all the romances I read described the heroine (though not usually the hero, but then, “old” romances were typically only told from the heroine’s POV) under her own viewpoint.

Nowadays, you read more and more that the love interest should describe the other. But what if they don’t meet immediately, or if there is a chapter/scene/etc. that doesn’t involve one or the other. Are we to guess what she/he looks like? Oh sure, you can weave tidbits in creatively, but is it really such a faux pas to let a character describe something of themselves?

Thanks for sharing!


Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Debby - wow, I'm honored you've chimed in.

I hope a few more light-bulbs went off today!

I know it took a long time for me to understand the subtleties of POV, and it didn't come all at once. I'm still learning.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Melanie,
I completely understand what you're talking about. Sometimes, for pacing's sake, I still like to use "she wondered" and that technique is used in lots of books.

Bottom line - we don't all have to use deep POV. There is no hard and fast rule. However, once you've committed to it, it's best to stick to deep POV.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi PatriciaW -
Yup - we're in total agreement on both counts - as readers, and writers.

Revisions are soooo important.

Thanks for reading and commenting today.

Lynne Marshall said...

Oh, and Patricia W - good point about how it is all about being on context.


Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Nancy!

I'm with you, definitely - less is more. Good characterization is key, detailed description of looks bogs down my memory - now, how did those lashes around her periwinkle eyes clump when she woke up again?

LOL - you get my point.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Whitney -
I'm so glad you've chimed in. Bottom line is you have to write your story the way you see fit.

I personally don't expect to have a detailed physical description of the character when I begin a book. I'm more interested in what the issue is, what's at stake, do I like this peron's personality, etc.

We may have to file large portions of this debate under - To Each His/Her Own.

It seems we all have pet peeves about certain things, but other than that, I believe we're all just looking for a good story and a nice escape for a while when we read.

Of course that happy ending is icing on the cake, right?

Anonymous said...

It's rather miraculous when we can find a story we can fall into and not even notice the POV because we are so lost in the story.

As writers that's hard to do as we have trained our eyes to CRITIQUE!!

Tina Radcliffe (away from home)

Annie Rains said...

Thank you so much for your post! I am guilty, guilty, guilty. Now I need to go back to my manuscript and fix this bad habit that you've clued me in on.

Invaluable advice to a novice.

Congrats on your new book coming out! Can't wait to nab it when it hits the shelves. Nab meaning buy it, not steal it. lol.

Missy Tippens said...

Lynne, great post! Thanks so much for sharing with us today! I'll have to come back later and read all these comments. Wow, a busy day! :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Annie!

We've all done this NQT POV, I believe it is part of the learning curve. Now you're aware and, as you can see from the examples, it really is an easy fix.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, and I knew what you meant about nabbing my book! LOL. And I thank you so very much. I hope you enjoy it.

Stephanie Rae Pazicni said...

I get it, I really do, that the hero wouldn't think about his buff gladiator arms (well, I'll bet he would, but we don't want to hear it, if he's that into himself, do we?) and that our heroine shouldn't be pondering her own cornflower blue eyes - but I protest those pink pumps. Surely Heather can struggle across the cobblestones trying not to wreak havoc on her brand new hot pink stilettos? I think about my shoes often, if they're heels it is usually - "ouch, ouch, but they look great, ouch..."

Vince said...

Hi Lynne:

I pulled up my notes on "One for the Road” to work on the review (I am many reviews behind because I’ve been overwhelmed by revisions, weeks of them, to my real estate manuals and courses) and look at my first note:

“He moved the ice pack and turned on his right side. He hadn’t had a chance to really study Dee before, without having to be sneaky. Now he took her in, all of her, through grainy, bloodshot eyes.

Just moments before, he’d looked in the mirror and found a frightening, wild man staring back. The whites of his eyes were roadmaps of capillaries that stung and burned like Hades. The sight of Dee felt like a soothing balm for the pain.”
(Page 138 real, 147 on my Sony reader.)

I liked this passage as a good example of your unique‘voice’ but now I wonder what should I think of the ‘mirror and self-descriptions’.

I must say that for a short topic, you sure picked a hard one! : )


Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Missy - thanks for having me hear today. It has certainly been busy, and I hope I've made sense on at least half of my comments. LOL.

I had the pleasure of meeting you in 2008 at the Georgia RWA chapter regional conference.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I almost never disagree with Vince because I love him that much, but on this point I like people to act normal through the author's eyes.

So unless I'm trying to tempt Mr. Right with a shake of my unnaturally blonde hair, I'm more likely to comb my fingers through my hair, exasperated, than to run my long, slim, ringless fingers through my thick and tumbling curls.

Gagging slightly there! ;)

If MR. RIGHT noticed my ringless hands, I'm okay with that, but he'd have to sound like a man...


So he'd be noticing...

She shrugged, and he tried not to notice the rise and fall of her chest that accompanied the movement because he was pretty sure that put him in stalker territory, but then she ran her hand through her hair...

Great hair...

And he couldn't help but note it was her left hand and didn't sport a lick of jewelry, no bracelet, no charm, no ring...

Not that he cared because he didn't. He had a job to do. So did she.

End of story.

Lynne Marshall said...

Excellent example Ruth! Well done.

Cara Lynn James said...

I know how picky editors are when it comes to POV. But on the other hand, I read a lot of books with head hopping. They're recently published too. So I wonder if it's just some editors (maybe most editors) who are so particular.

I really notice it, but I don't find it distracting if it's done well.

Vince said...

Cara makes an interesting point:

“I read a lot of books with head hopping. They're recently published too. So I wonder if it's just some editors (maybe most editors) who are so particular.

I really notice it, but I don't find it distracting if it's done well.”

I thought that ‘head hopping’ was a pejorative term. So here is my question: If you don’t notice head hopping or if you do not find it distracting, then would you still call it head hopping?

Like many things, I really don’t know the answer to this question. Does anyone want to give it a try?


Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Cara Lyn - You've brought up the age-old adage that "Never say never"

With writing if someone says "never do this" it is almost a challenge to do it and do it well and prove that "yes I can do this!"

Basically - it is whatever works.

and Vince said: if you do not find it distracting, then would you still call it head hopping?

Head hopping is head hopping, but if an author does it seamlessly and you aren't bothered by it - it doesn't matter.

Changing POV in the middle of a scene may jar some folks out of the moment, but if the author handles the POV switch in a smooth manner, most readers won't mind.

As they (whoever they are) say - it is all in how you handle it.

Clear as mud, right?

Debra E. Marvin said...

Head-hopping is pretty clear when you are writing in third person, and rather obvious to anyone who is trying not to do it in their own writing.

I imagine it's 'probably' acceptable when the author is writing in OMNISCIENT point of view and depending on the style, (classics, or some more contemporary literature) omniscient is going to work. (A true form of storytelling when the 'teller' is telling what everyone is doing and thinking) We just don't see it much any more.

What do you think?

Lynne Marshall said...

Debra said regarding omniscient and head hopping: We just don't see it much any more.

What do you think?

I think you're absolutely correct!

Head hopping confuses the reader, and that is never a good thing.

Cathy Shouse said...

This is a great post. I do see published books that have these references and it doesn't really bother me. I see how yours is much better, though.

I'd love to win a book. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Cathy!
Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found the blog informative.

Good luck!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Lynne, thank you so much for spending the day with us, chatting, EATING!! And sharing your wisdom. You are the perfect guest!

We hope you'll come back again soon.

Okay, Seekervillians, winners announced in the WE Ed!!

Laura Russell said...

Good, clear example and a nice reminder. My crit partners use the expression 'gee, Bob' when a character's POV slips.

marybelle said...

When POV slips or does the rounds, I'm lost. Great post thank you.


apple blossom said...

thanks for the post.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Gee, what an eye opener post. I'll have to go through my manuscript again and see if I might be guilty of character self description. Thanks!

Lynne Marshall said...

Laura - Marybelle - Apple Blossom - and Rita - I am so glad you made it by the blog and that it was beneficial.

I love the "Gee Bob" hint!

For the record - we all slip up (I have used that mirror a time or two, LOL - even used it in Courting His Favorite Nurse - but it had more to do with describing emotions than physical traits).

Again, thanks for having me as your guest - and let's all do our best to keep our readers soundly grounded in our stories.

Linda Glaz said...

It's true, we don't think of ourselves with certain physical attributes, (though I do from time to time mention these thunder thighs, but I digress). What drives me crazy in romance novels is for an alpha male to suddenly turn into a driveling idiot once he's in love. He sees the world through flamboyant eyes and his internal just isn't male anymore. Men seeing twittering birds and a woman's eyes as blue as forget-me-knots. ERrgghhh! Please, allow your males to have strong internal male dialogue and remember, men think in terms of red, blue, yellow, green and orange, not coppery crimson, ocean azure, buttercup yellow, seafoam, and pumpkin. They're guys, let 'em stay male even when they are in love.

Mia said...

Love those examples. Thank you for the post.

Lynne Marshall said...

Linda! You are my hero! I mentioned that in one of my comments yesterday - men don't know what a tendril is they think hair - plain and simple.

thanks for commenting.

Hey, Maria! I'm glad you made it by and that my examples made sense to you.