Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/a26f9f83/public_html/articles/includes/config.php on line 159
How To Avoid Viewpoint Slips > NetSparsh - Viral Content you Love & Share

How To Avoid Viewpoint Slips

Sit back, and imagine what it feels like to be you. Now that shouldn't be too hard - you've lived in your own skin for a long time.

  • Do you feel happy or sad?

  • Do you feel on edge or relaxed?

  • Do you feel tired or energetic?

  • Do you feel angry or calm?
Now think about how you know these things.

You have various bodily symptoms that accurately represent your feelings. "Happiness" feels light and contented. You might be sitting there quietly humming a tune. You might be suffused with a quiet feeling of well being.

"Sadness" is different. If you're sad, the world suddenly seems a grey, cheerless place. There's a heaviness in your chest, and maybe even a silent cry of despair that you're aching to let go. Perhaps you have a lump in your throat from trying to hold back the tears; trying to keep a stiff upper lip.

That's what it FEELS like to be you when you're happy or sad.

Now imagine you're going to nip across into someone else's body for a moment. Someone standing across the room looking at you. How can that person tell that you're happy?

They might see a slight smile tugging at the corners of your mouth. You just can't help showing your happiness. They can hear you humming softly. Your eyes sparkle. Your voice sounds upbeat and happy.

How might they know if you're sad? They can't, after all, FEEL that heavy weight in your chest. They can't know that you're so, so close to letting out a wail of despair. They can't know about that lump in your throat.

But they know you're sad. They can see the dullness in your eyes; the slump in your posture. They might be able to detect a quiver in your lips as you try not to cry. They can hear the despair or flatness in your voice.

In short: you, the viewpoint character, know what it FEELS like to be you. You're looking at the world from the inside.

The onlooker can put together information only from what they can SEE. They're looking at you from the outside.

1. Reap the Benefits of Deep Viewpoint

Every writer wants readers to become deeply immersed in the characters they invent. In effect, when someone reads, they 'become' the main person in the scene. The deeper inside that person's viewpoint you can help the reader go, the more convinced the reader is that this character is 'real'.

The easiest way to achieve this reader identification is to help them experience what it feels like to be that person - not to tell the reader by looking on from the outside.

2. Some Examples: (1) In Deep POV And (2) As An Onlooker

Here are a few examples to help you remember the difference.

1. HAPPINESS. In deep POV: a surging feeling of joy or quiet happiness; a desire to smile at everyone you see; talking to people with a smile on your face. The onlooker sees: a cheerful face; a ready laugh; a light, quick walk; humming or whistling a happy tune.

2. ANGER. In deep POV: your chest feels as though it might burst with fury; you breathe in short gasps; you want to punch or hurt someone; you feel like bursting into tears of rage; you feel the blood rush to your head. The onlooker sees: eyes glaring; a red face; lips thinning, words uttered in haste or a shout; a punch being thrown, objects being tossed aside; an aggressive stance (hands on hips).

3. What About Describing A Character's Features?

This is where a lot of writers run into trouble. Torn by the need to 'show' the reader what a character looks like, they hop in and out of the main character's mind at dizzying speed.

If you start out in a character's mind, it's best to stay there for the duration of the scene. (Yes, I know there is debate in literary circles about this, and there always will be. What you have to decide is what is best for your character.)

Why is it best to stay in your character's mind? The single most important reason is that your reader will identify more closely with your character. They more or less become that person. (Well, they will if you write well enough!)

At this point I'll return to what it feels like to be you. That's where we started, remember? You're the only one who knows what it really feels like to live in your skin and in your mind. That's what you need to aim for when it comes to your character. Become that person!

Therefore, if you are living inside that person's skin, then you can't know what he/she looks like from the outside. (Not unless your character walks around with a hand-held mirror all the time. And is vain enough to keep looking into it.)

So... resist the temptation to write something like this:

Viv sat on the rocks, her hazel eyes on the gulls swooping down at the water. It was decision time. Should she go with Chris's squad or not? He was dynamic and encouraging. His team would do anything for him. But he didn't get the same results as Blake. Blake could reduce her to tears with his scathing comments, true - but she knew it was all so she'd dig deep for that extra bit of effort that would earn her the win. She sighed, and ran her fingers through her short blonde hair. It would be a heck of a lot easier if someone would just tell her what to do. Idly, she tossed another rock into the lapping waves, not realizing that the frown on her face made her look exactly like her mother in one of her uncompromising moods. Have you picked out the parts that pull the reader out of Viv's body, thus giving the impression of an 'onlooker' present? There are three. 1. "...her HAZEL eyes...". Viv can't see the colour of her own eyes - only an onlooker would be able to see that. Nor is she likely to be thinking about the colour of her eyes at a time like this. By mentioning the colour, you make the reader aware that 'someone else' is in the scene looking AT Viv, rather than 'being' her.

2. "...and ran her fingers through her short BLONDE hair." It's entirely possible that she would be able to feel that her hair is short while she performs this action (although it's not likely she'd be thinking about it) but she can't see the colour of her hair. If she had *long* hair, and the wind was blowing it in front of her eyes, you could perhaps say 'she brushed aside the strands of blonde hair blowing in her eyes'.

3. "...not realizing that the frown on her face made her look exactly like her mother in one of her uncompromising moods". Ugh. This structure is B-A-D! For a start, the author has written '...not realizing that...'. If she doesn't realize it, then it's not in her mind at all - so why mention it? And there is no way that Viv can know that the frown on her face is making her look like her mother in one of her moods. Very clumsy! If you want to show what a character looks like, do it later in a scene from someone else's viewpoint. If someone is looking at Viv, they would be able to see things like the colour of her hair and eyes and the way her frown makes her look like her mother. But Viv can't see these things herself... so if you want to stay deep inside her skin, don't fall into the trap of showing them.

And that will make you a better writer.

(c) Copyright Marg McAlister

Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

Voice of America

Report: Long Writing Assignments Now Less Common at US Colleges
Voice of America
Yet if you asked almost any professor or student, they would likely tell you that writing is one of the skills most often examined at colleges and universities. In the United States, writing long essays about complex subjects has been, in many cases, a ...


New York Times

The Writing Dead
New York Times
These days, when a popular author dies, financially savvy heirs often commission someone to keep writing his or her books. (There's even a term for this: “continuation literature.”) Sophie Hannah writes Agatha Christie novels; David Lagercrantz ...


Washington Post

'100 Kegs or Bust': Kavanaugh friend, Mark Judge, has spent years writing about high school debauchery
Washington Post
A review of books, articles and blog posts by Judge — a freelance writer who has shifted among jobs at a record store, substitute teaching, housesitting and most recently at a liquor store — describes an '80s private-school party scene in which heavy ...
Hard Case Crime: the Beauty of Male Passion | www.splicetoday.comSplice Today
Barack Obama: the first female presidentThe Daily Caller
'What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep,' Kavanaugh joked in 2015USA TODAY
Campus News - Georgetown Preparatory School -Barnes & Noble
all 596 news articles »

Goshen News

SHADES OF GREEN: Naturalists inviting, inciting through writing
Goshen News
Who else has written about climbing a tree during a storm, traversing crevasse-ridden glaciers solo or walking 1,000 miles … all for a love of wilderness? Among these three heroic figures, Carson and Leopold are close runners-up, because their writing ...


Tuscaloosa News

OUTDOORS: Writing just as enjoyable as hunting
Tuscaloosa News
A lot of people contact me about the things that I write. Some have an exaggerated sense of my talent. Some have little or no respect for it. One thing that seems to pop up pretty frequently is the phrase, “I like to write, too.” Writing is neither as ...


New York Times

In Essays About Bodily Ailments and Other Conditions, Clues to Writing — and Life
New York Times
Many poets have in their oeuvres what they call an ars poetica to describe their philosophy of writing, inspired by a 2,000-year-old verse by Horace. But these formal apologia seem to give away the keys to the poetry kingdom — once we read them, we ...


Vulture

Saturday Night Live Adds Ego Nwodim to the Cast and 4 New Writers
Vulture
Saturday Night Live just announced several additions to the cast and writing staff. First up, Ego Nwodim has joined the SNL cast as a featured player and will make her onscreen debut during the season 44 premiere. In addition to her work at the Upright ...
'SNL' Adds Comedian Ego Nwodim and 4 New WritersComplex
Get ready for more Alec Baldwin as Trump on 'SNL'CNN
'Saturday Night Live' Adds Ego Nwodim to Season 44 CastHollywood Reporter

all 118 news articles »

Entrepreneur

Why is it Important to Write Your Business Plan?
Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur describes the business plan as “A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement.” A business plan is needed by ...


Mental Floss

London's Trafalgar Square Gets a Poetry-Writing Red Lion
Mental Floss
London's historic Trafalgar Square just got a fifth lion, the BBC reports. The fluorescent red, AI-powered lion takes visitor-submitted words and turns them into two-line poems, which are displayed on a screen inside its mouth. The history-inspired ...

and more »

FOX 29 News Philadelphia

NJ doctor admits writing opioid prescriptions to help drug ring
FOX 29 News Philadelphia
WARREN, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey doctor has admitted writing fraudulent prescriptions to funnel tens of thousands of high-dose opioid pills to a drug ring. George Beecher now faces up to 10 years in state prison when he's sentenced Nov. 16. He also ...

and more »
Google News

New Authors Publishing Options

All your publishing options are as follows:--Conventional publishing--Vanity or subsidy... Read More

How to Publish a Book: Key Differences Between Publishing and Self Publishing

For many authors just starting out, it can be a... Read More

How You Can Take Advantage of the Increasing Demand for Freelance Online Writers

The freelance writing market is a growing market to be... Read More

Writing HI-LO Material (High Interest, Low Ability) for Slow Readers

To write books for readers at an elementary reading level... Read More

Seven Important Lessons for Experts Who Want to Get Published

At first, I noticed that I could have written many... Read More

Is Someone Plagiarizing Your Work?

About two weeks ago I received an article submissionthat immediately... Read More

An Introduction to Self Publishing Material

Any article, report or book which is bought or sold... Read More

Grow Your Ideas Without Letting Words Grow Like Weeds

Q: How do I expand on an idea without getting... Read More

Talent or Toil

As in all endeavors, toil is necessary to succeed and... Read More

Learn to Talk on Paper: The Art of Effective Business Writing

Rudolf Flesch, a specialist in writing skills, ran classes... Read More

8 Ways to Write a Winner Book Fast!

Have you given up on getting your book out of... Read More

Looking For Good Copywriter Books?

If you are looking for copywriter books, you'll want to... Read More

Editing Secrets

Once you've plotted out your book, developed the characters and... Read More

Multiplying Sales As A Writer

Often, time is an enemy of writers. Sales seem slow... Read More

Six Tips for Creating More Lifelike Story Characters

Working on my first humorous novel, I started with a... Read More

6 Tricks To Squeeze Your Letters Onto One Page

Anyone who has read any of my articles on the... Read More

A Mode of Transportation

Great writing transports one vicariously to realms that the reader... Read More

How to Write a Short Story

Everybody knows writing a story is not easy. Like the... Read More

Hunting for Markets Over the Holidays

Chances are, you'll be busy over the next several weeks.... Read More

Kick-Start your Juices

Listen, consider this scenario.You have a deadline to honour. Time... Read More

How To Write More Powerful Reports

There is one key difference between reports and most other... Read More

Create Confidence With Your Writing

Whether you are writing a magazine article, composing a press... Read More

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Made By New Childrens Writers

Okay. So I'm not David Letterman. But I doubt if... Read More

How To Identify Your Own Style Of Writing

This article is to help identify which style, technique or... Read More

The Blank Mind

Many writers stare at the blank page or clean computer... Read More