In his post this week, Darrel hit an area that I’ve seen more and more in books I’ve read lately. He addressed it in a clear understandable way. That brings me to another area that has begun to bother me a great deal as I read.
Since I became aware of Deep POV and read Jill Nelson’s book on the subject, I’ve learned to look for those “weasel” words of shallow POV. Her book helped me develop a workshop on the subject and I presented it to the Tulsa WIN chapter of ACFW as well as at the TCWC in August. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve read enough to recognize deep POV in a manuscript.
Deep POV takes away the telling and shows us the characters thoughts and actions. By stating simple facts without adding the words, “she knew”, “he wondered”, “she thought”, or “he felt” to the sentence, we stay in the character’s head without telling. If you are in one character’s POV, then everything that happens in that scene is from that character’s observations, thoughts, and actions.
Example: After all that had happened earlier in the morning, Sally knew her mother would be upset. She squeezed her mother’s hand. “We have to pray even harder now.”
Revised: After all that had happened earlier in the morning, Mom had a right to be upset. Sally squeezed her mother’s hand. “We have to pray even harder now.”
The second sentence shows us what Sally is feeling and thinking without telling us she knows something. Think about our own thoughts. Do we think, “I feel so happy” or do we think simply, “I’m so happy”?
Sometimes we often let using the five senses become telling sentences instead of showing the reader.
Example: She offered him a plate of sugar cookies, and he grabbed one from the plate. The taste of cinnamon made him remember the days his mother made him sugar cookies and served them with a glass of milk after school.
Revised: She offered him a plate of sugar cookies, and he grabbed one from the plate. One bite of the crunchy cinnamon sugar combination returned him to childhood and after school snacks of Snickerdoodles and milk in his mother’s kitchen.
Both sentences are correct, but the second one not only gives a little more information, but it also shows the taste of the cookie in a way that the reader wants one of the cookies or may have a memory of such a cookie him or herself.
These are just little things, but they are what I’ve learned through so many workshops at conferences and on-line as well as from books. We’re never too old to learn. At age 76, I’m still learning this craft of writing. I’ll never be perfect at it, but I will keep improving until I can no longer sit at a keyboard or hold a pencil or see a monitor or until the Lord calls me home.
Yes, it’s true that a great story trumps poor writing skills, but learning the skills to go along with a great story is the icing on the cake. Learning about deep POV has become one of those little “serendipity” things, and I love writing even more after it.
What is something you learned that either has made or will make a difference in your writing?