Monday, February 18, 2013

My View on Point of View -- Missy Tippens

My View on Point of View
Missy Tippens

DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert on point of view (POV). And I’m not going to talk about all types of point of view. This is not an exhaustive study. I just thought I'd talk a little about what I’ve learned from reading, judging contests and critiquing. I love reading and writing in first person and third person. But today I’m talking about writing in third person since that’s what I use for my Love Inspired books.

So…for any newbies, you may be asking what exactly is POV?

I like to think of POV as strapping a camera on the character's forehead so we only see what that character can well as planting a bug in that character's brain so we can "hear" what that character thinks.

So as you're writing, you can only write what this character would see or think. To let the reader know what other characters are seeing or thinking, you can only do it by having the POV character watch and draw conclusions. For example, if you're in Jane's POV, and she breaks up with John, then you can't suddenly have John thinking about his broken heart. You can only show what Jane sees: tears in his eyes or a scowl on his face. Or you can show him pacing or racing out of the room. Then she draws her conclusions. Of course, you can also show how he's feeling (or how he's acting like he's feeling) in dialogue.

Let's look at some examples of problems we can run into with POV:

1. Head Hopping.

For those who don’t know what this is, it’s when you frequently move back and forth from one person’s point of view to another.

Jane couldn’t bear to wear John’s ring for another moment. Not when he’d turned his back on her at the moment she needed him most. She slipped the engagement ring off, took hold of his hand and placed the ring in his palm

John gasped as pain arrowed to his heart. How could she do this? “I don’t understand.”

“I think you do.” She couldn’t resist the pleading in his eyes and hurried from the room.

In that example, I switched from Jane to John to Jane. In my writing, I usually stay in one character's point of view for a whole scene, then have a scene break. Every now and then, in a particularly emotional or important scene, I might switch one time during the scene. But for the most part, I remain only in the point-of-view character's head.

I’m not a POV purist. But I do suggest staying in one POV because I think we need the time to bond with a character. We need to stay in his or head long enough to care about his/her hopes and goals. If I’m reading a book that bounces back and forth, I don’t feel as invested in the main characters. And that’s NOT GOOD. Because that makes me able to put the book down.

2. Characters think things that don’t make sense or make them unlikable.

If you're in a female character's POV in an opening scene where you want to describe your main character, would you write something like this?

Jane Doe's glorious golden hair flowed down her back, waving in adorable ringlets that made other women jealous.

Photo credit gromovataya/

Well, probably not. What's the problem here?

Most women won't think of their own hair in that manner. Plus, they don't normally see how their hair looks in the back unless they're holding a hand mirror while looking into another mirror.

What might a woman feel or see in her hair? Would this description work better?

Jane Doe's golden blonde hair hung heavy down her back, the curls wild from the humidity.

So yes, she can feel the weight of it. And she can think about it being wild, which doesn't seem like bragging. Or if the point of the original sentence was to show that other women admire her hair, you could do that but would have to be careful that you don't make her seem conceited. I've seen something like this before and thought it was fine:

Jane Doe brushed her wildly curling blonde hair and swept it into a ponytail. Her mom and friends always told her it was her best feature, but they didn't have to deal with the unruliness.

So something like that example gets the point across while making the character seem likable.

NOTE: I'll add here that unless you're writing in only one POV, it's my opinion it's best to save the physical description for when you're in the POV of another character. So, John can describe Jane's hair as glorious and adorable. And if he's wanting to run his fingers through her hair, then it's a great way to show his emotion as well, doing double duty. :)

3. Writing that uses “distancing” words that aren’t needed and that also end up telling the reader things that are better shown.

Writing in deep POV helps prevent this problem. I won’t talk much about that. Camy did a great post on this (click here). I just wanted to share an example.

John wanted to throw down his cell phone to get rid of the words Jane had written in the text message. He wondered why she didn't love him anymore. He thought maybe he could change her mind. But then he felt a sense of despair when he realized she hadn't initiated contact in over a week.

Okay, so there's probably nothing technically wrong with that example. But it doesn't use deep POV. Words like "wondered" and "thought" and "felt" and "realized" are all distancing words that aren't needed. They're like a layer between the character and the reader, and are "telling" words. Plus, despair is naming an emotion, which you want to avoid as well.

photo credit: iofoto/

Remember: camera on forehead, bug in brain. Using that bug in the brain, let's re-write this passage as if it's coming straight in John's thoughts.

John jammed his cell phone with the offending text message into his pocket. Jane didn't love him anymore. Why? Could he possibly do something to change her mind? A quick glance at his cell phone proved she hadn't called in over a week and set up a jagged ache in his chest. No, he wouldn't be changing her mind.

See how that cuts out all the "stuff" you don't need? You're right in John's head, not telling how John is thinking and feeling.

Those are the three POV problems I see most often. I know I still have trouble with forgetting not to name emotions! That’s one area I continually work on. I hope showing examples and talking about them helped.

So what do you think? Do you agree with how I handled the examples? Did you find you've got POV problems? Feel free to share any examples of your writing if you’re not sure. We can all pitch in a help.

Oh! And any author worth her salt would leave links to pre-order her next book! :)

Georgia Sweethearts

A Pattern For Love...
After inheriting her great-aunt's failing yarn shop, Lilly Barnes is determined to make it a success. All she wants is stability, something she doesn't think possible in the small town of Corinthia, Georgia. Then Pastor Daniel Foreman rents space in her store to hold meetings for his growing congregation, and this proves to be her lifeline. At first Lilly wants nothing to do with Daniel's big dreams, but she soon finds herself starting to share his goals. Yet trouble between her customers and his congregation make them both doubt the path they're on. That is, until practical Lilly shows him that love is a risk worth taking.

Pre-order at

Visit Missy at


Helen Gray said...

Thanks for the insights.

Looking forward to reading this book.

The coffe pot is set.


May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hi Missy,

That last example was excellent. We are right there, up close and personal, feeling what he is.

What a difference using that technique makes. Thank you! (SUPER cover on your latest release. Know it'll be a terrific read!)

And Helen, delicious cuppa as always. I brought some warm M&M cookies, just because... :)

Jenny Blake said...

enjoyed the post and I understood it well. As a reader I hate when the POV changes all the time and I am not sure whos pov it is. Especially when it happens several times in a chapter with no real indication its changing.

Love the way you explained the last example also I could see the difference.

Im happy to share iced chocolate as its hot today day five of this heat and over 100 again.
(makes wearing wrist support uncomfortable due to the heat but without the wrist hurts)
I see the dr tomorrow with hopes of getting a referal for a MRI.

Jackie said...

Great post today.

Saturday I saw that you'd be posting on this today and told a friend to be sure to stop by. You didn't disappoint.

Congrats on Georgia Sweethearts! I hope to read it soon!

Jenny, I hope your Dr. appointment brings you some help.

Jackie L.

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Helen, for getting us our caffeine fix for the morning!

And KC, thanks for the chocolate fix! We know it'll be a good day if we're starting with M&M cookies. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Jenny, thanks for sharing from a reader's perspective. We can use transitions to go from one pov to the other, but frequently changing making it tiring for the reader to figure out (in my opinion).

I hope you can find out something on your hand!

I'm also jealous of the summer heat. I can't wait for it! :)

kaybee said...

Tks, Missy, this really gets to the point.
I had some left over blond brownies with butterscotch chips -- I made them for the church social hour which was small due to the storm here in NH -- there's a plate on the counter if you want to try some.

Missy Tippens said...

Jackie, thank you for sending your friend over! I hope she finds it helpful.

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, Kaybee, your brownies sound amazing, too! I hope you're staying inside and warm today. Are you able to get out, or are roads bad?

Marianne Barkman said...

i just finished a book (well, a few books ago) that was written in first POV, but the writer obviously hadn't had seekerville's help. I cringed through it, very slooooowly, using Submerged as my reward when i would get done. Throughout the whole book i was hoping it would get better, but no. i am thoroughly spoiled by good authors and good editors. i didn't even want to write a review on it, but the author was good enough to send me the book, so i did a short one. Thanks, Helen, i need that coffee and the chocolate brownies. Great post...and first blog i look for in the morning. Hope there's brightness ahead for you Jennie.

Marianne Barkman said...

i just finished a book (well, a few books ago) that was written in first POV, but the writer obviously hadn't had seekerville's help. I cringed through it, very slooooowly, using Submerged as my reward when i would get done. Throughout the whole book i was hoping it would get better, but no. i am thoroughly spoiled by good authors and good editors. i didn't even want to write a review on it, but the author was good enough to send me the book, so i did a short one. Thanks, Helen, i need that coffee and the chocolate brownies. Great post...and first blog i look for in the morning. Hope there's brightness ahead for you Jennie.

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI Missy, Thanks for the reminders of POV maintenance. So excited to read your new book.

Mary Connealy said...

In strange and unrelated news, I wrote a poem yesterday.

I was thinking about how VINCE told me my name rhymed with Swahili and mulling over how to get them to pronounce my name right and also I was bored on a long drive...My Cowboy was listening to grain price reports...

McFeely Connealy
Could not speak Swahili
LaVerne Logan-Herne
Said, "I'd like to learn."
No less than Ms Lessman
said, "I can if you can."
Marlena LaTina
Asks, "What does that word meana?"
The big winna Glynna
Announced that she's inna
A bilingual co-mingle
So cool that I tingle.
But the enunciation
And vocalization
Spawns demoralization
I need a vacation.

You're welcome.

Mary Connealy said...

Great lesson. I remember POV really stumping me. I think it's worse because all older books head hop so it's hard to believe it's not okay. but it's NOT!

Mary Connealy said...

In my current WIP which is in the revision stage one comment the editor made was I 'lapsed into omniscient POV.'
Yes, they are right. I did.
You'd think I'd know better by now!

Rose said...

Hi Missy,

Good reminders. I always think it's best to describe a character through another character's thoughts. But if you can't, another trick it to do it by comparsion.

Cora admired Vera's neatly plated hair, smooth from her center part to the the first tight braid. Cora reached her hand and fingered her loose ringlets that refused to stay secured.

Kav said...

Great, clear layout of POV, Missy. I want to know who changed the head-hopping rule? Because like Mary said, it was all the rage not so long ago. Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for no head-hopping -- just curious as to how writing techniques evolve.

Mary Vee said...

I just received Missy's new book, Georgia Sweethearts. Highly recommend this great read.

POV seems easy, but isn't. It's amazing how many times we jump outside of the camera view.

Missy Tippens said...

Marianne, thanks for stopping by this morning! You know, some people have difficulty with first person. I love reading it, but my critique partner, who uses first person pov most of the time, has had quite a few people tell her they don't like reading it. (she does first person, present tense)

I find if I just jump in on a story (especially YA), I often gravitate to first person past tense. But somehow when I'm writing a romance, I tend to use third person past tense.

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, Sandra!

MARY CONNEALY SWAHILI, you are such a poet and don't know it.

BWWAAHHH!!! That's excellent. I think I see a poetry writing career in your future. :) :)

(Psst, Vince. Don't encourage her!)

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, omniscient is one of the ones I didn't go into. But for those who may not know what that is, it's when you're basically writing from a narrator's pov. Not in any one person's head. So the narrator can know what everyone is thinking or doing.

Not too long back, I read a fantasy in omniscient pov, and it was great! It's extremely hard to use. Would be really tough to help the reader bond to the characters. But I did in that one!

Missy Tippens said...

Rose, that's a great example! Thanks for sharing! It's a good way to describe herself realistically.

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, I have no idea! That would be interesting to research.

You know, some authors switch back and forth on pov so seamlessly that the reader doesn't even notice. But I still think it's more difficult to bond with the characters that way.

I think it's probably better for a new writer to learn to do single pov when starting out. And then learn how to switch if the story calls for it.

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, thank you!! I'm glad you got a chance to read it. I hope the visit with your grandbaby was wonderful!!

Jan Drexler said...

Great post, Missy.

Mary brought up a point I've noticed - when you read books written, say, 15-20 years ago, there is quite a bit of head hopping. And books from 40-50 years ago use a lot of words that distance the reader (she wondered, she thought, etc.). Before that, omniscient POV seemed to be the norm.

It makes me wonder what writing styles will we all be learning/teaching 20 years from now?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Rose, I like the comparison method, too... and I wrinkle my brow every time someone asks about Deep POV because we always just called that introspection.

You can argue they're different, but I don't think they are. Cryptic, tight introspect is still introspection and sometimes I think coming up with "names" for things is more confusing to newbies.... So when someone asked me how I write such great Deep POV a few weeks back, I laughed and said, "I don't..."

Missy, this is a perfectly balanced post that helps readers and authors see POV and that's such a huge thing. Like Mary, I think that's a tough thing to get right (not the doing, but once you do it, the timing and balance of when to switch, when to break) because we were raised on those head hopping characters from LaVyrle, Nora, Linda, etc.

To go from head-hopper world-famous NYT bestselling authors to purist POV (one person-break-second person-break) etc. was a big change.

And I don't mind head-hopping authors, I think their snappy writing is fun if it makes sense as they go back and forth. Reparte between hero and heroine is like a quick-stepped dance in those old stories. I loved that about them.

Connie Queen said...

Head-hopping is definitely an easier way to write. Don't have to interpret the other person's actions, you just spell it out.

But it does distant the reader from the characters so I won't do that.

...and I'm with Ruthy. The old books w/head-hopping didn't really bother me, I tend to be forgiving of rule-breaking if the story holds my interest.

Donna said...

Thanks, Missy! I enjoy reading about POV. You made a muddy subject very clear!

I think head hoping only works if the author has made the characters voice so distinctive that you can tell them apart with only the occasional dialogue tag or telling what the character is doing. For example, 'She set her drink down and looked him in the eye.'(what ever that is called.)

To me that makes for an even better read. But I also think it's a rare talent, to do it well.

Susan Anne Mason said...


Great job of explaining POV in a clear, understandable way!

It took me a long time to learn POV and even longer to get Deep POV. Still struggle with that - especially using the word 'realized'. I have to slip it in sometimes! LOL.

So happy to be on a long weekend here. Sitting sipping my second cup of coffee in my bathrobe!

Have a great day!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Connie Queen said...


If we're in 3rd person, can we describe items the characters wouldn't think about? If we do, have w/switched to omniscient pov?

A couple of years ago when I was in a group critique, I had my hero toss his tattered Stetson on the desk. Someone said, "I don't think he would be thinking about his hat being tattered." Then someone else answered, "He doesn't have to think about it to stay in his pov." And so the discussion began...

This is similar to the hair discussion. When we're in deep pov, we describe what that character sees, feels, and knows even if they wouldn't "think" it. Right?

Missy Tippens said...

Jan, you're right! Shows that it's important to keep up with what's selling and what readers expect at the moment!

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, I agree. I enjoy reading that if it's done well. And those are the masters of it that you listed! They do it so seamlessly that you don't even notice.

Missy Tippens said...

Connie, you're right! If it's a great story and is done well (and those ladies are amazing writers!), we don't even notice.

Janet Dean said...

Great post, Missy! The things you mentioned bug me too! Not that I haven't done them all. LOL

Getting rid of character self description is easy. So is staying in the proper head once a writer understands that, but showing not telling or naming an emotion is hard. Especially without overusing physical responses.

Another aspect that makes staying in the POV character's head fun is to show how he sees the world by the way he describes it or even ignores it.

Can't wait to get your book!


Missy Tippens said...

Donna, I know what you're talking about. I call those action tags. I don't know if that's a correct term, though. :)

Janet Dean said...

Jenny, hope your doctor gets the tests he needs to help you!


Missy Tippens said...

Sue, our kids had a 4 day weekend, so they're lounging around me right now. Won't be an easy day to accomplish anything! LOL

Enjoy your time!!

BTW, I often slip in the word realize. Sometimes that just works. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Connie, regarding your question about the tattered hat. I do think he might think of his hat that way EXCEPT the word tattered isn't usually something a cowboy might use (in my opinion). Maybe all that needs is a word change...

Battered, filthy, worn, beat-up, dusty...

Then again, would your guy notice? If not, I wouldn't use it. How might he think of his hat? His favorite hat, his trusty hat??? I don't know. But I'd suggest using only words or thoughts he would use. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Of course, a lot of people would disagree with me, Connie! So use whatever you think works.

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, you're right! We can't always say her stomach hit the floor. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Connie, I just realized I didn't answer your first question. I wouldn't call that omniscient. It's still 3rd person, just not as deep as you could go.

Myra Johnson said...

Excellent instruction on POV, Missy! Single POV was probably the very first writing lesson driven home to me in the Institute of Children's Literature Course some 30 years ago. Ever since then, I absolutely cringe when I see head-hopping in a story!

Now I'm continually trying to improve my skills with deep POV. It took me a long time to truly understand what that meant. One huge clue for me has become phrases like "he wondered." Totally unnecessary in deep POV. I'm still breaking myself of naming emotions, as well. ;-)

DebH said...

great post today. i believe i'm prone to head-hopping and naming emotions. the examples and explanation have created a "light-bulb" moment for me. THANKS!

btw, Mary cracks me up.
coming from a farming family, i can so relate to my brain going elsewhere during radio farm reports. i'm impressed Mary remembered the poem to share with us - usually my brain glazes over...

i love Seekerville...

Missy Tippens said...

Myra, thanks!

DebH, I'm glad it helped. And yes, I agree with you about Mary being a great source of entertainment! LOL

Julie Lessman said...

GREAT POST, MISSY -- so basic, but SOOO needed, both for the new writers and as a refresher for us older ones!!


Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Julie. I was hoping to help newer writers with some basic examples. I remember learning about pov for the first time in an online class I took years ago. It was pretty eye opening.

Speaking of that class...

Here's a challenge for y'all. This was one of the assignments that teacher gave us:

Write a short description of a man who is in a barn who has just received news that his son was killed at war. And write the description...FROM THE BARN'S POV! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Great examples, Missy! I could "see" John cramming that phone in his pocket. Good visual.

KC, pass the cookies and nobody gets hurt! Warm chocolate chip cookies and a cup of Helen's coffee....


Missy Tippens said...

Pam, I have an old t-shirt that says: Hand over all the chocolate and no one gets hurt.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Congrats on the new book coming out, Missy!!! Great post on POV. And yes, you ARE an expert, in my opinion, on POV. You are a published author, and you definitely know your stuff! So don't disparage yourself! ;-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Another day. Sunny. Bold. Windwept.

The combination worked magic on rusted nails. The north-face took the brunt of yesterday’s storm, but old Hodge had taken care in building way back then.

He missed Hodge, the steady step and sigh of the age-old farmer, long-silenced now. Young Hodge had come and gone, a breath in a decades-old wind. Melba’s son, Danny, looked after things now. Hardened by war, softened by the Mrs., Danny stood sentinel each day, trudging through mud, muck and mire.

He didn’t have his Grandda’s feel for farming, but his kind hand toward the animals made up for that. Apache, a good paint,, had given them two prize-winners out of Bella, the roan and white mare. The other foals brought a fair piece, but those two paid off the mortgage.

A nice piece of farming there, thought the barn.

A click brought his attention ‘round front.

Danny headed his way, a clutch of mail in his hand, whistling something that was nothing and everything, a touch of Dixie mixed with Scot dancing. A car pulled in behind, slow. Long. Dark. It rolled to a stop and when Danny turned, he stopped cold and hard, face frozen, eyes wide.

Two men climbed out. They started to speak. A wail pulled the barn’s attention to the porch, where Ma and the sister held tight.

Moments passed, moments that dragged like the winter of ’07. Danny crossed the last piece of yard, shoulders back, taut and tight as he burst through the man-door at the barn's east end.

The horses stirred. The cattle perked.

The wretched poop-dropping gander fluttered his wings, angry, but then stopped, as if aware.


The sweet boy he’d watched grow up. The lad he’d sheltered in cold,wet autumns and harsh, long winters, the boy whose laugh made folks smile in return…

He sank to the floor, to his knees, then lay down, eyes streaming.

The East wall drew up tighter, protecting him from the wind. The south door clanged shut. The west wall heaved a silent sigh of understanding. They’d seen men like this before. Twice. Once for Little Hodge. Once for Bramwell.

And now…

The barn sighed, remembering as Danny cried hard tears against a straw-strewn floor…

And now Ben. Gone.

The barn turned to the crest of the rise, where stone crosses marked short rows. He heaved a shudder and once again admitted defeat. He could hold them close so far, so long, but in the end, they went to the small, sun-soaked patch of ground along the narrow road.

His was a temporary shelter.

The Earth?

More eternal.

Missy Tippens said...

Melanie, you're sweet. I'm glad you stopped by today! I'm still excited about your new contract!!

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy! What a great example!! I especially like the east wall drawing up to protect him. And the wretched pooping gander. :)

Thanks for taking part and sharing. Who else will be brave? Scroll up to see the challenge.

Myra Johnson said...

Ah, yes, Ruthy! I felt as if I were right there inside the barn's . . . er . . . mind.

Kav said...

Ooooohhhhh -- love Ruthy's barn pov. Gave me goosebumps.

I was popping int to say that I'm reading a book now with multiple third-person POV. I've counted six so far. It's not omniscient because the reader is inside the head of each character. Not sure what that is called, but it sets a completely different mood to the story. More of a community feel. Interesting.


What happened to the New Year Eve cookbook over on I've hunted high and low and can't find it. Making Tina's oatmeal cookies were high on my list of things to do today (it's a holiday in Ontario...yeeehawww). In fact my lunch plans for the entire week are centered around salads and cookies and now I can't find the recipe. Ack!

Jenny Blake said...

Missy you can have the heat! I dont mind summer but when I cant sleep cos of it I get crancky. last night was bad. the house has warmed up and my room was so warm I just didn't sleep well. (not that I have in months.) But it was the heat. The cool change is here but the house will take time to cool down with my room (of course) being the one that takes longest! but today will be a nice temp if its not to humdid (not good with humidity).

Digging for Pearls said...

Great examples Missy. It's so easy to see telling sentences in somebody else's work...not so easy in your own. :) All good reminders as I work on revisions today.

Jodie Wolfe

Tina Radcliffe said...

Missy this is huge. I had this issue starting out. Most of us do. You gave great examples and how to fix them. Well done!! Especially timely right before the Genesis.

Audra Harders said...

We can never be reminded enough, Missy. Be your character. To me there's nothing worse than feeling that distance between reader and the character.

I had a critique partner once suggest I write in first person, then change the I's to he's or she's. That got me in the rhythm of thinking camera-on-forehead-bug-in-ear.

I love how you put that : )

I know the Genesis deadline is coming up fast. Keep the POV issues in mind while perusing the final draft!!

LOL, I better keep it in mind for my WIP, too : )

Audra Harders said...

Oh, geez Ruthy. How in the world did you make me sigh over the musing of an aged barn???!!!

DebH said...

Ruthy's barn got me tearing up.

i shoulda written something, posted and then read Ruthy's exercise. as is, no courage to follow Ruthy with an attempt of my own.

Janet Dean said...

Yeah, Missy, all those stomachs dropping, hearts racing, fists clenching, breath catching, throat knotting physical reactions are easily overdone. And I have. The best way to show emotion is with the details that raise a lump in the reader's throat, not the character's.


Andrea Strong said...

I've been thinking a lot lately about pov. A lot of classic stuff is written in omniscient. I just re-read the high points of Pride and Prejudice, and I love how she will tell in one paragraph all the thoughts of two or three different characters, with no dialogue.

I also recently re-read a favorite novel from the '90s, and it's full of head hopping. I didn't know that rule way back when, and it bothered me some this time. But every time I tried to "edit" a scene into one character's pov, it lost something. Eventually I got sucked back into the story and loved it as much as ever.

It's amazing how the "rules" change. I'm with Jan, I can't wait to see how they change in the future.

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

Thanks for another informative post! I have a special interest in pov and I’m working on a short book covering DeepPOV which I hope I can get Ruth the write the forward.

I think the most important writing book I ever read was “The Power of Point of View” by Alicia Rasley. I wish I had read this as my first writing book. POV is how the story experience is to be perceived by the reader. This is of the upmost importance.

In her book, Rasley, details eight basic pov types. Each of these have six levels of depth and each can be individualized and customized by the author exactly as the story requires. In addition, many possible hybrid povs are also possible.

For each story there is an ideal pov. This is why so many povs have been created by authors. A thorough understanding of pov is as important to a great writer as is understanding photography and how a camera works to a film director.

In a way, understanding pov and which variation is best for a given story, is tantamount to understanding writing itself at the most basic level.

‘Head-hopping’ is a pejorative term and is best used to describe when changing povs confuse the reader. If changes in pov are welcome by the reader and not misunderstood, then I would not want to call such changes ‘head-hopping’. I’d call them rapid changes of pov.

BTW: A change in pov could be a reward. If the reader learns something from a character’s introspection and can’t wait to learn what the other character is thinking, then a fast change to that character’s pov could be very rewarding for the reader.

On the other hand, a long wait to the next chapter to find out what that other character is thinking could annoy the reader. In fact, doing this could create a real ‘page-turner’ – the reader will quickly turn the pages to get to the good stuff. : )

Just imagine knowing all the different types of pov and their variations. Imagine knowing why each was invented and where each works best and where each should be avoided! How much writing aggravations would that solve?

Read, “The Power of Point of View” and experience pov liberation! ☻


P.S. It’s been too long since your last book. Love the cover. Can’t wait!

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, if you'll email me at missytippens [@], I'll email it to you. I saved the file in my documents. :)

I've already made two or three of the recipes!

Vince said...

The Lonesome Cowboy

Alone in a crowd
he’s driving down
a dusty road:
grain prices
are heard
on the radio.

His family’s eyes
glaze over again
those farm reports
are not their friend.

Yet there’s something
they just don’t know
about those prices
heard on the radio.

You see, those prices
they speak to him --
they let him know
if down the road
the farm itself
will have to go.


MISSY: I did not encourage Mary but she did encourage me.

DOWNTON ABBEY QUESTION – Possible Spoiler. Is it still possible that a given person is still alive? Did they really close the door on this character?

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, that's interesting that the book has that many pov's. Sounds fun!

I've actually done a mss with one first person pov (main character) and two third person pov's. :) I had a good time with it.

Debby Giusti said...

Missy, great blog!

POV was so difficult for me to understand when I first started out. Eventually, in a moment of clarity and after a lot of hair pulling, I finally GOT it!

I needed your blog post back then.

Thanks for taking a tough concept and providing an informative how-to lesson!

Ruthy, loved your barn and the story.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, we'll talk about that forward, LOL! Can I state my opposition to "Writer's Speak" which is similar to "Edu-Speak" "Acadamia-Speak" and "Medi-Speak" in my mind? I noticed that each profession has spent the last 2-3 decades designing its own language...

It locks people out and I'm not a big fan, I like simple and straightforward like Missy's post today. But (having said that!!!) I understand that people learn at all different levels and in different means, and I LOVE YOUR POEM! That speaks to the heart of the matter, doesn't it????

I saw Ivan Connealy in your words. Well done!

Hey, DEB H. REALLY??????????

Go for it. Have fun. Make me eat your dust, chickie!

Missy does well with first person POV. I sound like a bossy old witch.

Downton Abbey Gone, Vince.

I'll say no more.

And they're shooting season 4 right now (well beginning now) and I'm already contemplating moving to UK to see it EARLY.

Who wants to come? A Downton pilgrimage?

Missy Tippens said...

Yay! Internet is working again!

Jodie, I hope your revisions go well!

Thanks, Tina and Audra! Audra, I do think that's a good idea to write in first and then change to third. That's a great way to train for deep pov.

Vince said...

cinis ad cinerem

What wisdom
would a barn reveal
if a barn could think
and a barn could feel:
from ashes to ashes
from dust to dust

regardless of pov
it’s in God we trust.

Missy Tippens said...

Here's the quote of the Day!! From Janet Dean:

"The best way to show emotion is with the details that raise a lump in the reader's throat, not the character's."

I LOVE it!

Missy Tippens said...

Andrea, you're right. None of that really bothers me in the classics.

Connie Queen said...

MISSY, thanks for your help.

One of these days I'll watch Downtown Abbey re-runs and regret I didn't start watching them sooner...

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, I love Alicia's craft books! I'm sure I own that one. I should take a look again.

I agree that changes in mid-scene can be a reward. That's why I sometimes use them in big scenes. The kind of scene where they declare their love or share a first kiss. Those are the times the reader is dying to know how the other person is responding.

And I wouldn't call that head hopping. That's intentional. I think what I tend to call head-hopping is often unintentional because the writer doesn't yet understand pov. I probably should have made that part clearer in my post. :)

LOVE the poem! LOL

Missy Tippens said...


Did you hear my wail of, "NOOOOO!!!" last night??

I've heard a certain actor did not renew his/her contract. So I don't think we'll see that person again. I'm so upset!!

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Debby! I missed your comment. Yes, it's a tough aspect to learn. I wish I could remember who did the online class I took. I'm having a senior moment. I need to go look in the file cabinet.

CatMom said...

Very helpful post, Missy--thank you! I'm sure I'll be re-reading *smile*. ~ So looking forward to purchasing GEORGIA SWEETHEARTS (love that cover!). ~ Thanks again for sharing these POV reminders with us (I will admit I struggle with "show, don't tell" in my character's POV *sigh*). ~ Hugs, Patti Jo

Missy Tippens said...

Patti Jo, I appreciate it!

I hope you've enjoyed this gorgeous day like I have!

Chill N said...

Oh, Missy, thank you! I finally have a quick way to relay info about POV to contest entrants -- camera on forehead, bug in ear. That is super!

A POV pet peeve -- characters who look in mirrors or see their reflection in windows and then describe themselves.

Agreed, Vince -- The Power of Point of View is a super book. Not a quick read, but written so fluidly I never experienced an information overload.

Ruthy -- gracious! That is *some* writing.

Thanks again, Missy, for the post.

Nancy C

Piper Huguley said...


Thank you for this post. I do everything I can to work on this particular issue of mine. One of the judges in last year's Maggies, suggested something similar to Audra's--to journal as the character to help get closer and deeper. I've just accepted that this will be one of my on-going issues and that I will continue to grapple with it until the lightbulb moment happens for me, as it did for Debby!


Cindy W. said...

Great post Missy! This is definitely something I need to work on. I loved the examples!

Have a wonderful evening!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Natalie Monk said...

Great post, Missy!

I have to keep an eye out for those "distancing" words. I use them without thinking and then wonder what it is that isn't quite right. :) Thanks for these great tips!!

Cara Lynn James said...

I know editors dislike head hopping, but it never bothered me until I learned it wasn't okay. It still doesn't bother me if it's done well (lots of writers do it).However, I don't head hop at all.

Jenny Blake said...

I must be the only person on the planet that doesn't watch Downton Abby.

we have season 2 showing here but im really not interested in it.

DebH said...

hey jenny
don't feel alone. i don't watch Downtown Abbey either. i'm currently buried in toddler television programming (Blue's Clues, Backyardigans, and the little guy has just discovered Scooby Doo - the originals).

it's a good thing i'm an animator. i'm actually enjoying this phase since i can study the techniques used by the shows and laugh at the oldie but goodie stuff from my childhood.

Lyndee H said...

HI Missy! Your comments and examples are so valuable. POV allows us to breathe life into our characters. Congrats on the new release! Yay!

Missy Tippens said...

Nancy, thank you! I hope you will pass along the pov description. :)

Piper, I hope it's helpful. BUT! Don't forget, there are different styles! Your way isn't necessarily wrong. I'd suggest getting several different opinions. Some successful authors don't use deep pov.

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy and Natalie, I'm glad it was helpful!

Natalie, my cp often finds these words in my writing! I think it may be a life long struggle for me. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Lyndee, thank you!!

Now, I'm off to catch up on some episodes of American Idol that we have on DVR. :)

Jenny Blake said...

Thanks Deb dont feel so bad now.
I use to babysit a 4 year old who knew about animation. use to tell me that was what cartoons were. no prize fore guessing hes an artist who does some animation also.

back from dr got MRI booked for 6th march.

Janet Dean said...

Yay, Jenny! Hope the MRI will help you.

Lots of fun, fabulous poetry today! Love it!

I'm bummed about the season's finale of Downton Abbey! Could it be a trick like with Who shot J.R. in Dallas???


Walt Mussell said...

I'm in major trouble tomorrow. I just realized I have no coffee.

Iim glad I'm reading this now instead of in the morning.

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Walt. Am I impossible to take before your morning coffee! Hahaha

Guess you'll need to hit Einstein Bagels. (Isn't that the place you like?)

Mary Preston said...

As a reader I love having all the ins & outs highlighted here for me.

Edwina said...

Thanks for the great help on POV. It's always been a challenge for me!!


PatriciaW said...

Thanks for the great POV examples. In my freelance editing, I see these a lot, especially the last one. I can use these clear cut examples to illustrate what I'm trying to convey to the writers I work with.

The watchout, however, is that writers can go over the top with trying to write in deep POV such that every sentence has some super active verb and there's not one "is" or "was" in the whole ms. No balance. I'm probably not explaining this right, but I know it as soon as I see it. The other end of the spectrum makes reading the story awkward.

Cheryl Hart said...

Great examples. I like how you clarified "distancing" words. :)