Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Let’s talk about a subject that is very near to my heart. One that can get an author querying her work rejected faster than a ballplayer can hit a home run.

Yes, I’m using baseball terms because in the scheme of things or your manuscript, you, the author, have the choice to use the point of view of your choice. However, if you are writing romance, for the most part publishing houses prefer third. Although, I have read some really great work with a first person point of view.

Now, how to you decide what to use, well that can be as confusing as who’s on first, who’s on second, or who’s on third as my husband use to say just to make me crazy.

It doesn’t have to be hard, however it does have to be right, no matter what point of view you decide on. My preference if you are querying the Faery Rose line is third. I like to see the hero and heroine’s pov. I also, don’t mine the villain or an occasional secondary character if it moves the story plot along.

A good rule of thumb when you are writing third is to make sure that you only describe what you can see. You can’t see me so if you were to make the statement Amanda Barnett’s hair is up in a ponytail, unless you were in the room with me, you would be wrong. However, you can say that due to the band left behind when I take my hair down, you believe I wear my hair up a lot. That might not be the best scenario, so let’s try this one.

We will use one of the editors on Faery, I’m sure Frances Sevilla won’t mind. If she and I are having a conversation and she walks out of the room in anger, I can only guess her hands are clenched in fists, or she’s mouthing off unfavorable attributes toward my innocent self. Yet, if I hear a thump on the wall and then hear her yell, I can safely assume she has used one of those same fists to punch the wall. Poor Frances.

Remember, you need to view point of view as you would by peering into the lens of your digital camera. You can only capture a picture of what you can see. Not hard at all, is it?

First person you can only guess at other character’s thoughts because you are not in their minds, and neither is your reader. You must show if they are sad, angry, etc, by remarking on how their eyes flash or tears are rolling down their cheeks.

I hope that makes sense. I will not be addressing the issue of using second as a point of view. I only want to make sure that the authors who are reading this realize that when we evaluate a manuscript, if you which point of view frequently, head-hopping as some call it, then you not only confuse the reader, meaning an editor, but also pull a reader out of what could be an important part of your work.

So instead of running the bases at full speed, take time to decide if the point of view you are using is right for your work, and if it is done correctly. YES, I know there are NY Times Best Selling authors who do have more license when it come to flipping back and forth, but your goal is to deliver the best work you can to get an editor interested in contracting your work. Believe me, the fundamental basics are a key part when I look at someone’s baby.

Take care and write on!


Cherie Marks said...

Point of view can be so tricky sometimes. In each of my manuscripts, I have to make sure I haven't used descriptors that that particular character wouldn't use "she tossed her curly, golden locks"--from her 3rd person, deep POV. Curly I could see, but who thinks of their own hair as golden or locks? Maybe, fairy tale characters, but not realistic characters.

Great post.

Kelly McCrady said...

Good points, all, Amanda! And as Cherie adds, I dislike reading prose where the POV character describes their own physical attributes in places where their looks do nothing to move the story or plot forward. And heaven forbid a character gazes into a mirror to describe themselves to the utmost detail. No, no, please!

Sarah_Faery said...

I cannot tell you how many authors I have dissuaded from having their heroine describe her own emerald eyes. Using the picture analogy works well. Thanks, Amanda!