Stay in Your POV

Keep readers firmly inside your character’s head.

The novel’s opening chapter reminded me of the car commercial that promotes its lane-departure warning system. If the car drifts across the center line, it sounds a loud alert.

This prospective author could have used something similar for his novel’s point of view. Unknowingly, he kept drifting from his main character’s awareness.

In a scene with Miriam as the POV character, she and her younger brother escape a Gestapo raid. See if your POV departure system activates when the author drifts from her viewpoint.

“Run, Joseph!”

As they ran, they could hear their mother begging the men to leave her family alone.

By writing “they could hear,” he’s drifted into a dual POV, that of Miriam and her brother.

Further, there’s no need to write “she could hear.” If we’re in her head and a sound is described, readers understand she heard it.

A few lines later as Miriam watches, the Gestapo force her family into a car. And the author again drifts from her perspective:

Then one of the agents struck five year old Rachel, who was struggling from his grasp. She shrieked in pain as Sarah tried to help, but the man hit Sarah across the face.

Did you see the subtle drift from her POV? Miriam would never think of her sister as “five-year-old Rachel.” And no matter her empathy, Miriam could only imagine Rachel’s pain.

These aren’t big departures. But over the length of a novel they build up — keeping a reader at a greater distance from the character’s experiences.

As you review your scenes, make sure you’ve activated your POV departure alert system.

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About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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