Ensure clear point of view transitions

We’re down to the last two items in the POV section of the Elements of Fiction Editing Checklist.

If using deep POV, the narrative and interior monologue reflect the personality of the POV character(s)

This goes back to avoiding generic narrator voice. The narrative in a deep POV novel should feel like you’re riding along in the character’s brain, so the narrative should feel as if he’s thinking it.

point of view

© Franz Pfluegl – Fotolia.com

You also want to avoid POV slips, which I discussed when explaining why omniscient POV is not recommended. POV slips often occur when you slip out of deep POV and into a narrator mode. They can also occur when you slip from one character’s viewpoint to another within the same scene.

Omniscient POV writers often reveal the thoughts of multiple characters, sometimes at once. But in deep POV, we stick to one viewpoint character per scene. Which isn’t to say you can’t have multiple viewpoints.

If multiple POVs are used, the transitions are clear.

When you’re changing viewpoint characters, break the scene, even if you’re remaining in the same time and place. To indicate a scene break, put three asterisks on a line by themselves.

When you shift viewpoint, get the new POV character’s name into the scene early. Preferably the first proper name in the scene. The reader will latch onto that.

Insofar as it is possible, begin and end each scene with a thought, action, or line of dialog from the main character. This helps the reader feel grounded in that persona.

You can occasionally end with a line of another character’s dialog, especially if it is addressed to the POV character, for example when the villain says to the hero, “Now, you die.”

Next up: Plot

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

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