I got a little distracted last week, but let’s return to the Elements of Fiction Editing Checklist. We were talking about point of view, or viewpoint. One aspect of viewpoint is psychic distance. Continue reading
One of the most common point of view errors we see in amateur novels is what I call Hidden Identity Syndrome.
This seems to be an attempt on the part of fiction writers to replicate something we see in movies: A nondescript figure walks into a darkened room, rifles the desk or cracks the safe or plants a bomb. Because of the lighting and camera angles you can’t tell who it is. So when the perpetrator is exposed later in the film, it’s a surprise.
We get a lot of manuscripts that start with characters called only he or she, or by some epithet—the Hungarian or the masked man or the accountant. He did something, she went somewhere, the accountant heard something…
But a novel isn’t a movie, so in most cases this is a POV violation. Continue reading
Voice, like art, is one of those things that, being hard to define, often falls into the category of “I’ll know it when I see it.” It’s a quality that writers strive for and editors look for, precisely because it’s so hard to accomplish.
There are two kinds of voice; authorial voice, which is what writers bring to their overall body of work, and character voice, which is how each individual character sounds to the reader.
One of the great advantages of Deep POV is that, if your characters are well developed, their voices will pervade the narrative. In Deep POV, the main voices one notices are those of the characters. Continue reading