Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taking center stage

After the selection of my cast, I begin to think about my POV character(s). I believe POV and Voice go hand in hand. I will begin with POV and considerations that should be explored in the selection process.

When I was in college, way back when, I minored in criminal justice and took a class in law. The professor had told us the most unreliable evidence to a crime was the eye witness account. I was puzzled at the time. If you get five witnesses to a crime you are likely to get five different accounts of the same incident. She went on to explain that various factors existed in the validity of the eye witness account. The validity increases if the eye witness is also the victim. I can see how that works. I can remember exactly where I was while the events of 9/11 unfolded. But ask me what I did yesterday and it’s a blur at best. Second, an eyewitness would remember a suspect better if he/she had seen the person before the incident. And time, of course, plays a factor as well. The longer we wait in extracting that info, the more likely our mind will not be able to retrieve it correctly later.

Why is this important to writers other than crime writers? Because it illustrates the importance of being deliberate in selecting your POV character. First and foremost this POV character has to be at the scene of the crime. If not a crime, then present when the shit hits the fan: the conflict and climax. This person may have an emotional attachment, a history with what is unfolding to engage the reader deeper. And this person may also have a very different outlook on things depending on the story you want to convey. This would be the person with a different vantage point.

Your reader will be brought into the story by that POV character. Now you can have more than one POV character, of course, and there are different POV choices: first person, third person and omniscient seem to be the most used. There are others that I won't go into here. But the choice of who will get center stage depends on the story you are writing.


  1. Nice post. I like how visual your description of a 'real' crime scene relates to the POV chosen in writing. Makes sense.

    It makes it even more interesting when written in third person and one can use two separate views--sometimes conflicting and sometimes just slightly off to give that illusion. Of course that's all settled at the climax and ending. ";-)

  2. Very true, Liz, and you explained it really well.

  3. great illustration here.
    And thank you for visiting my blog!

  4. I'm trying to expand my horizons and learn as much as I can. I'm glad I can help. And Terry, I love your pics. Maybe one day I'll see the beauty of nature in its element.

    Thanks for reading.

  5. Great post! I had forgotten the unreliable witness problem - or tool, in a writer's hands. :-)


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