Writing Tips for Strengthening Your Point of View
Alice Abel Kemp
Point of View (POV) is something new writers struggle with. It’s so easy to slip from one character to another. And, yes, Nora Roberts does it. Head-hopping. But at the risk of insulting you, I have to point out that very few of us will ever be as successful or as skilled as Nora.
In addition, failing to maintain a consistent POV in each scene is an easy give-a-way for editors and agents to recognize a beginner. So rule number one is keep the POV straight, and when you become a New York Times best-selling writer, you can deviate all you want.
According to my good friend and frequent writing teacher, John Foxjohn (http://www.johnfoxjohnhome.com/), here a few things we ought to avoid that weaken the POV of our characters. These are sense words.
Such as: Mary saw the stranger across the street, and her heart stopped. Instead: Mary’s heart stopped when the stranger appeared.
Mary thought I don’t want to talk to him. Instead: Mary didn’t want to talk to him.
She felt a chill when he looked at her. Instead: His gaze sent a chill up her spine.
Mary heard the door slam across the hallway. Instead: When the door slammed, she froze.
You get the idea? We don’t think ‘I see the stranger.’ No, the stranger appears and we react.
This one takes practice, and a good critique partner helps us see what we can’t at first.
Happy writing and much success in the new year. But most importantly, keep writing!!
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Margaret Angelo, a New Orleans homicide detective, works to catch a serial killer, the Slasher. Despite the sexism of the NOPD, she heads the task force to stop this killer, who kidnaps women, assaults them, and gets off on licking their bodies before he kills them. Although devoted to her job, Margaret longs for a life partner. She reconnects with a high school acquaintance, Jim, whom she hires to paint her house. They begin a relationship, but Margaret is kidnapped by the Slasher and faces certain death. The other detectives manage to rescue her although the Slasher escapes their trap. He is losing control and hunts Margaret down, determined to finish her. With Jim’s support, can she escape this mad man?
A divorced professor, Marilise, struggles with an unintended pregnancy from a foolish one-night stand. When her high school sweetheart, Tommy, shows up as a student in her class, she’s scared to get involved. He’s a short-tempered homicide detective working on a case where a sportscaster is accused of shooting his ex-wife. Tommy is attracted to the new Marilise.
She attends the sportscaster’s trial to see Tommy testify. In the bathroom on a break, she overhears a thug threaten a woman juror to vote not guilty. She tells the judge and becomes a target and a risk to a local politician’s plans. Tommy and Marilise rekindle their relationship while he attempts to protect her. Can their new relationship survive the threats and will he accept her pregnancy?
A young woman finds the love of her life in a crummy waitressing job at a country club where she’s forced to wear a revealing red halter top. The hot romance falters when he says the worst thing possible in the middle of sex. Can she forgive him? Or trust him?
Alice Abel Kemp is a former sociology and women’s studies professor at the University of New Orleans. But the university has no responsibility for the stuff said here. She’s lived in New Orleans for a long time after attending graduate school at the University of Georgia (Go Bulldogs!). She’s worked to transform herself from an academic writer to a fiction writer, a slow process. Some folks might remember her women’s studies textbook, Women’s Work: Degraded and Devalued, published by Prentice Hall in the 1990s.
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