Point of view is integral in maximising the impact of every scene in a story. It’s paramount to character development and emotional satisfaction, let alone story progression and pace.
Sometimes we don’t have to think about whose POV is the best fit for a scene – we start writing in it instinctively. Other times we need to be more analytical about the choices we make, especially if a scene feels flat or isn’t revealing what we want it to.
So, how do you decide whose point of view to use? And how can you use it to best effect?
Here are a few tips:
· Keep your POV characters to those who are the most important in the story. Primarily (though not exclusively, depending on the length and plot complexity of your story) these will be the hero and heroine.
· Use the POV of minor characters only if they are going to reveal something integral about the hero and/or heroine (or the plot) that cannot be revealed through other means or, for whatever reason, through the hero and heroine themselves.
· If you can’t choose between the hero and heroine’s POV, choose who, in that scene, has the most to lose or gain.
· The golden rule of using point of view effectively is keep it only to what that character is experiencing – what they are hearing, seeing, feeling etc.
· Be sure to think, feel and talk like your character does. Stay in the head of the observer. Would they notice the starry night sky, or the troublemakers lurking on the corner ahead? Would he notice that her high heels are designed by Prada or, instead, focus on how they enhance the seductive sway of her hips?
· When selecting the most appropriate POV, know what you want to reveal at that stage of the story (this is particularly important in terms of both character and plot progression). You want to show the hero has been hurt by something the heroine says. If you don’t want the heroine and the reader to know why yet, use her POV. If it’s time for you to reveal all – even if only to the reader – keep it to his POV.
· Know when introspection is appropriate and how much to use. I remember reading once that the more impact a scene has on a character i.e. the greater the emotional significance for them, the deeper into introspection you can go.
· And remember, whichever POV you choose, guessing each other’s thoughts and motivations is a part of everyday dynamics. It’s what creates tension, suspense and conflict. And who doesn’t like some of that in their romances?