Action, reaction, motivation, emotion, all have to come from the characters. Writing a love scene requires the same elements from the writer as any other.
– Nora Roberts
Back in October we learned the cardinal rule of Point of View in fiction – do not switch character POV mid-scene or mid chapter if the chapter has only one scene. So, how do you get the POV of other characters out there without “jumping heads?”
In the previous post we discussed how, when and why to actually change the POV. But what if you want to let your reader know how Sam feels and thinks without getting inside his head?
You know the old axiom about good writing – show, not tell.
That’s how you do it.
In “The Couch,” the first story in my mystery short story collect Beyond the Tripping Point, the Point of View is that of the main character, the young private investigator, C.U. Fly. Fly has a big thing for the secretary, Annie Everglades, but the story never gets inside Annie’s head. Here’s a brief excerpt from near the story’s beginning:
“Give it up, C.U.,” she said when she found me staring at her long legs. She pushed back her wire-framed glasses and gave me an icy grey glare. “C.U. Fly, you may be a private investigator, but I am not your client.” Then she turned to her laptop and her fingers began to zip over the keys. “Your talent is listening, not looking. Go bug a client.”(Excerpted from Beyond the Tripping Point, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).
Annie’s reaction to C.U.’s unwanted advances is obvious. This is shown by her dialogue – she gives C.U some boundaries and explains the PI’s functions. There is also a bit about what C.U. is doing at the time. For the latter, notice the use of the word “me.” We also get Annie’s actions – pushing back her glasses and giving C.U. a cold stare. Then she dismisses Fly and gets back to her job.
So dialogue and actions show the reader how Annie feels towards C.U. and we didn’t get inside her head.
Here’s another excerpt from the same story.
“C.U., get your paws off my back,” she said as the three of us occupied space on the couch. At her voice, Brutus leaped over me and settled in Annie’s lap.
“Fine,” I said. “You’re in charge of dog sitting services.”
She gave me one of her frosty stares. I smiled and pretended my heart stayed at normal medical settings. I had no control over my legs and arms, so staggered up, shook myself into my denim jacket and padded down the stairs..”(Excerpted from Beyond the Tripping Point, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).
Here we have a combination of dialogue between the two characters, action, but also how the POV character, C.U. Fly feels (pretending the heart stays normal) and how Fly reacts (smiles, staggers up off the couch, puts on a denim jacket and leaves). Fly’s reactions show the reader the relationship between the two characters – they are operating from different perspectives but we also learn how Fly sees Annie and feels about her.
In summary, you can reveal what is going on with other characters in your story by:
- Dialogue between the POV character and the other character.
- Action – between the POV character and the other character or just the other character.
- And tying in with the above – reaction of the POV character to the other character.
- POV character’s feelings and beliefs about the other character.
We’ll cover using third person POV and multiples in future postings.
For now, here is my current upcoming event with my book Beyond the Tripping Point:
Tonight, November 15, 2012 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. I am on a panel with other recently published Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch members, Chris Canniff and Bianca Lakoseljac. The three of us will share the ups and downs of getting from first draft to published book. Location is the Northern District branch of the Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. More details at http://www.canauthorstoronto.org/events.html Those in the Toronto area, please stop by.
And to purchase a copy of my book – now in e-book form as well as print, for Kindle (and also a link to the print copy. just click on the book cover at the top of this post. For Kobo, click on the book cover below.
Sharon A. Crawford