Crazy Train/Soul Mates: POV and Tense

Allison
Bestselling author Allison Maruska. You also know her as co-host of Writers Off Task With Friends

Allison has generously stepped up and offered examples of POV for us to use in the Soul Mates story.

Most of us are thinking 3rd person POV overall, but a lot of us are used to writing in 1st person (I am). This will show the similarities and differences, as well as serve as a reference guide if necessary.

Thanks, Allison, for doing this! (This is an actual story segment she’s working on, by the way.)

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First person POV

The bell over the pharmacy door jangled as I entered. My heart raced as I scanned the shelves – where was the iodine? The sooner I could get out of here, the better. My secret wouldn’t keep for long.

“We don’t serve Indians.” The gruff voice came from behind the counter.

I looked around, then contorted my face into what I thought was my best confused expression. Aside from the tall, blonde man examining amber-colored jars, I was the store’s only patron. Apparently, my secret had kept an even shorter time than I’d hoped.

Running my hand over my dark hair, I made eye contact with the old man. “I’m not Indian. I’m white.”

He chortled, coughed, and cleared his throat. “Yeah, and I’m the queen of England.” He pointed to the door. “Now get. We don’t serve your kind here.”

“Please.” Approaching the counted with my hands out, I crouched slightly to offer a sense of inferiority – as if I needed to relay that further. “My brother is sick. He has a cut on his leg. I need iodine to treat him.”

The old man’s footsteps echoed off the wood floor as he circled the counter. Grabbing my arm, he pulled me towards the door. “Then go do one of those voodoo dances or something.” He yanked the door open and shoved me onto the wood deck. “No Indians allowed.”

I stared at the closed door, begging my tears to stay inside. How could he tell who I was? More often than not, my lighter complexion allowed me to pass for a white woman and obtain whatever I needed for my family. I was the only one in my family to risk it. Being caught, like I was today, could be enough justification for someone to imprison or kill me.

The lump in my throat grew. I needed to get out of here and figure out another way to cure Atohi’s wound. Our standard treatments had failed. That we would have to seek the White Man’s treatment was shameful, but I couldn’t let my brother die because of my pride. Grandfather’s choice to leave the tribe likely saved us forty years ago, but with everyone around us hating us, we were truly alone.

Under the large, heavy dress that was part of my ruse, my too-big shoes scraped the planks as I mindlessly strolled down the walkway. Where should I go?

“Cannay help ya’, lass?”

“Lass?” I turned toward the voice and my eyes connected with those of a young man with reddish-blond hair, a thin beard, and fair skin. His cheeks had several of those spots – what were those called? Freckles? “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re asking.”

“Cannay help?” He stepped onto the walkway, keeping his hazel eyes on mine. “I saw ya’ havin’ trouble down the way.” His voice had a strange quality to it. His words almost didn’t sound like the language Grandfather insisted I learn.

Same chunk in close third* person POV

The bell over the pharmacy door jangled as Hialeah entered. Her heart raced as she scanned the shelves – where was the iodine? The sooner she could get out of here, the better. Her secret wouldn’t keep for long.

“We don’t serve Indians.” The gruff voice came from behind the counter.

She looked around, then contorted her face into what she thought was her best confused expression. Aside from the tall, blonde man examining amber-colored jars, Haileah was the store’s only patron. Apparently, her secret had kept an even shorter time than she’d hoped.

Running her hand over her dark hair, she made eye contact with the old man. “I’m not Indian. I’m white.”

He chortled, coughed, and cleared his throat. “Yeah, and I’m the queen of England.” He pointed to the door. “Now get. We don’t serve your kind here.”

“Please.” Approaching the counted with her hands out, she crouched slightly to offer a sense of inferiority – as if she needed to relay that further. “My brother is sick. He has a cut on his leg. I need iodine to treat him.”

The old man’s footsteps echoed off the wood floor as he circled the counter. Grabbing Hialeah’s arm, he pulled her towards the door. “Then go do one of those voodoo dances or something.” He yanked the door open and shoved her onto the wood deck. “No Indians allowed.”

Hialeah stared at the closed door, begging her tears to stay inside. How could he tell who she was? More often than not, her lighter complexion allowed her to pass for a white woman and obtain whatever she needed for her family. She was the only one in her family to risk it. Being caught, like she was today, could be enough justification for someone to imprison or kill her.

The lump in her throat grew. She needed to get out of here and figure out another way to cure Atohi’s wound. Her family’s standard treatments had failed. That they would have to seek the White Man’s treatment was shameful, but Hialeah couldn’t let her brother die because of her pride. Grandfather’s choice to leave the tribe likely saved them forty years ago, but with everyone around hating them, they were truly alone.

Under the large, heavy dress that was part of her ruse, her too-big shoes scraped the planks as she mindlessly strolled down the walkway. Where should she go?

“Cannay help ya’, lass?”

“Lass?” Hialeah turned toward the voice and her eyes connected with those of a young man with reddish-blond hair, a thin beard, and fair skin. His cheeks had several of those spots – what were those called? Freckles? “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re asking.”

“Cannay help?” He stepped onto the walkway, keeping his hazel eyes on hers. “I saw ya’ havin’ trouble down the way.” His voice had a strange quality to it. His words almost didn’t sound like the language Grandfather insisted she learn.

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* “Close” third is basically: you stay with her the entire time. You see what she sees, etc. And when you need to see something else, you go to a different scene.

For the most part I think past tense will be the way to relate the story segments (the bell jangled instead of jangles). The old woman is telling the stories about the past, so past tense makes sense there. The nurse/old woman segments are in present day and could be different but I think past tense makes sense just because present tense drives me nuts.

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