Sunday, September 17, 2006

POV and me – What a difference a day makes

Tami Parrington (see links on the side) being the sweet, intelligent, patience-of-Job person she is, helped me see source of my confusion.

I had a flawed understanding of what third person omni was.

She probably read it in my writing and wanted to trample me with one of her miniature horses.

Let's go back to one of the sites I used last time.

The story is told by the author, using the third person, and his knowledge and prerogatives are unlimited. He can interpret the behavior of his characters; he can comment, if he wishes, on the significance of the story he is telling. (emphasis added)

I took that to mean EVERYTHING was fair game – including thoughts and feelings. Essentially, I was taking third person limited and third person omni smushing them together and making a mess of things.

Not a problem when the scene is three paragraphs long like in the "Word of the Post" section. This is a problem when the scene is several pages long.

Third person omni is really a detached view of things. It's like you are sitting in a theatre watching a movie. You can see and hear everything that's going on. You can see the bad guy sneaking up behind the good guy, but you can't know what either of them is thinking or feeling.

(Why it is this way, I'll never understand.)

Sucks to be me doing something I thought was making my writing better when I was actually muddling the works.

This reminds me of the "No Purple Prose" section. (see links on the side). They said…

It becomes headhopping when you switch MORE than once in a scene.

Do you agree or disagree? Do you think one POV switch in a scene is acceptable?

I think that is acceptable. Sometimes the meat of the scene has to be set up with one character, but the zinger is with the other character (like the example in yesterday's "Word of the Post" section.) Is it possible to set up the tenderness of the scene via Mark? I'm not so sure. I think the moment his shirt comes off he'd start being nervous about his scar. I think that would give it away before I want to give it away. I can see the rest of that scene being played out via Mark's POV and not needing to go back to James POV.

Today's "Word of the Post" is a word I discovered yesterday and comes from a common dictionary "Merriam Webster".

Main Entry: chan·cel
Pronunciation: 'chan(t)-s&l
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin cancellus lattice, from Latin cancelli; from the latticework enclosing it -- more at CANCEL
: the part of a church containing the altar and seats for the clergy and choir

Instead of using my stock characters Mark and James, I'm going to use two of my boys from "Full Circle" – Josiah and Kendrick.

This is not in the manuscript and takes place before the story begins (and hopefully not written as a bastardization of third person limited and third person omni).


The state of the sanctuary mirrored the condition of the world. Crumbling pews, strewn hymnals and Bibles, and broken glass stood testament to the shattered world around them. However, hope resided in this room as well as in the world. The cross above the chancel, albeit crooked, still clung to the wall. A few panes of stained glass refused to fall as a casualty of war.

Josiah sighed as he walked through the sanctuary.

The largest glimmer of hope resided in Kendrick, but the light was fading fast. The bedraggled vampire was a bastion of faith and perseverance, but Byron's absence was taking a heavy toll. Depression, a vile and evil beast, ate away at its captives slowly devouring them until they were too weak to resist.

Josiah stepped up into chancel and knelt beside Kendrick. Praying always praying. Centuries wasted pleading with a seemingly deaf God. What had those prayers yielded? Nothing. Not a damn thing. He whispered, "You can't fight this much longer, Kendrick."

Kendrick lifted his head from his folded hands. "We're in the same country now. Bob and Phineas think they may have spotted him. I can't stop fighting this close."

Josiah gritted his teeth. "It's been centuries since he left. You don't even know if he remembers you. And you better hope he doesn't, because if he does and he hasn't found you by now, then he's left you for good." He didn't want to be a bearer of bad news, but Kendrick needed to face facts. Byron was gone and he wasn't coming back.

"If he doesn't remember me, he'll feel our connection the moment he sees me. I'm certain of it."

Josiah rolled his eyes. At times Kendrick seemed like a naïve child. What did Kendrick expect? To lock eyes with Byron and – presto – all would be right with the world? It was ludicrous! When Byron's spontaneous epiphany didn't happen where would that leave them? Where would that leave Kendrick? Would Kendrick still fight for a runaway lover? "Damn it, Kendrick, your stubbornness is killing you."

"And your lack of faith pains me."


Bernita said...

I suspect I'm a basdardizer.

Anonymous said...

Me too,lol. Then again, skills comes from let's keep writing.
Once you finally get the nack of it, don't get surprised to find more headhopping that your editor would allow you in the works of reknown authors. Why? Partially because after so many books under their belts they can get away with
I also discussed this topic for a long time with misswrite, but always keep in mind that she's correcting your story for the better and you'll end up getting all the kudos when published.

IM Cupnjava said...


It's a hard habit to break, no? I do it without realizing it. I'm too nervous to look at my WIP's. Maybe they will correct themselves.

IM Cupnjava said...


You are totally correct. She is helping me find errors to make the story stronger. I'm not perfect and neither is my writing. I have a lot to learn when it comes to this craft and I'm thankful I know someone who cares enough to help me.

kmfrontain said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MissWrite said...

Hold up a sec... I didn't say head-hopping was a bastardization of omni.

kmfrontain said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kmfrontain said...

I think the comment thread has thrown me for a loop. Sorry Tami. Wasn't you in particular I was answering, but the idea of bastardized omniscient and the big head hop poop that is still prevalent in writing communities.

But to follow the actual idea of a bastardising omniscient with tight third, I do think a bit of "exteriorized" omniscient could help very tight third in some cases (provided the main POV is never violated). I've seen some very bad tight third slash novels recently that could have used a dose of logic from omniscient. They were damn awful.

MissWrite said...

Ah, Karen, no harm, no foul, these types of comment trails concerning this subject can get extremely twisted just on account of the subject matter.

Agreed on the "very bad tight third slash novels recently that could have used a dose of logic..." from somewhere anyway. LOL

kmfrontain said...

Thanks, Tami. I appreciate your patience with me, who is bumbling about today. ;-)

I do that regularly, it seems.

IM Cupnjava said...


No, you didn't say head hopping was bastarization of thrid.

The mush I was writing was a bastardization of third.

The head hopping was supposed to be another topic albeit related.

I didn't mean to imply you said head hopping was a bastardization.


kmfrontain said...

Hee, hee. Don't worry, Cuppy baby. We've already hashed out that I screwed up and you didn't say headhopping was a bastardisation of omniscient. And yes, I understand you mean bastardising omniscient with tight third. Sorry for the mess.

kmfrontain said...

Or something like that. O-o

I'll just be totally confused today, shall I?

MissWrite said...

LOL, cup, it wasn't you either, it just got all twisted in the comments is all. Karen, you're just fine. Boy, can anything work up more of a dander than POV?

Only in a room full of authors I suppose.

IM Cupnjava said...

ROFL! That will teach me to make a blog post!