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.
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(And check out Lynne's terrific FREE READS!)
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.