POV: Point Of Who?

coverUsing my unreleased manuscript An Angel On Her Shoulder, I am showing you my techniques for reworking a story into a more readable, more enjoyable piece. It’s 45+ lessons in about 45 days. (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE.)

To view it best, bring up the two versions in different windows and view them side by side to see what was changed.

Then give me your thoughts in the comment section.

Point Of What?

One thing I struggled with early on – okay, I STILL struggle with it – is Point of View (POV)

Unless you are an omniscient being, you can’t know what’s going on in other people’s heads. Same with in writing.

Allow me to explain.

One of the BIG differences between the original and final drafts of the chapter where Mallory went to the store and got freaked out by the homeless guy was: in the original, she knows things she couldn’t know based on the POV we were in.

In the drafts about Doug and Tyree talking on the phone about the relic cross, Doug can’t see Tryee hold the cross up. Doug can’t see through the phone. He can’t know it’s white and heavy – unless Tyree says it is. (So I had Tyree allude to the physical characteristics of the cross a little.)

Which Person and Which POV? And which tense?

I’m getting tense just reading that!

Okay: POV limits you to ONE person’s eyeballs and brain, usually, unless you choose otherwise.

The type of Person you write in is determined by what a narrator knows. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or Omniscient, and there are limited or unlimited varieties in each. You can look those up, but this story is mainly 1st Person (I = Doug), past tense.

So in 1st Person, we the reader are Doug. The POV is “I did that,” or “I went home,” stuff like that. (Past tense is the tense in this story; so it’s I went instead of I go which would be present tense. I don’t like present tense too much.) In second person or thirsd person it’s different. So when we are in Mallory’s head, She did X- no longer I did X. Okay?

But

The POV remains in a hierarchy.

If Doug is present, we are in Doug’s head (Doug’s POV). We see the story from Doug’s eyes.

If Doug is not present, whichever next main character is present is whose eyes we see things through. Mainly Doug is present but when he’s not it’s Mallory or Tyree we see the scene through.

In the “FINAL” version of chapter one, when the story opened with the person yelling call 911 call 911, we were in Mallory’s POV. (In the original, it hopped around.)

Some readers don’t care. MANY DO. They find it confusing and annoying. It’s part of that “I can’t explain why but your book seemed less polished than other books I’ve read” thing.

So if you have POV and tense issues like I tend to have in my first drafts, you need a good Critique Partner (CP) to help steer you away from the rocks.

That’s why the conversation between Doug and Tyree about the relic cross took so long to fix even thought it was  a short scene. I kept hearing my CP saying, He can’t know that. He can’t see that.

But we learn and end up writing better stories because:

As writers we have to learn to communicate our stories in the manner readers are accustomed to receiving it.

Once learned, we can play around. If we don’t violate POV rules. One chapter can be Doug, the next can be Mallory. One scene can be 10-year-old Dougie. The next can be Tyree, after a row of asterisks.

But when we don’t know the rules, it’s a mish-mosh. Nobody wants that. You don’t want Ammy reviews saying it was a fun mish-mosh.


Chapter 43 “FINAL”

 

I flexed my jaw, trying to get the ringing in my ears to dissipate.

“Hey,” Tyree said, grabbing me. “Are you okay?”

Lifting my head, I blinked the rain out of my eyes and nodded. “I’m okay.”

“Come on.” He put a hand under my arm and helped me to my feet.

I stared at the sky, scanning the clouds for the face. Little flickers of distant lightning lit the clouds. The image was gone.

Tyree tugged my arm. “How about we get out of this field before we get struck again?”

I looked at him. “Struck?”

“You got straight-on blasted by lightning, amigo! A direct shot. Came right down where you were standing.”

The grass around me was knocked flat, but otherwise it didn’t look any different. As the ringing in my ears subsided, I realized I was still holding the relic cross.

“Here we go.” Tyree slung my arm over his shoulder. “One foot in front of the other.”

The wind tugging at us as we made our way to the car. “Tyree,” I said as I limped along. “I’m glad you came. I’m glad you’re with us. But I have to ask. I saw your office. Nobody could have survived that. The blood—”

“Animal blood.” He shook his head. “It was pig’s blood or something. Supposed to scare me.”

“It sure scared the heck out of me!”

“Nah. When they broke in the front door, I went out the back window. Then they trashed the place and burned up my car.”

I cocked my head. “Who did?”

Tyree stopped and looked at the sky. “I’d say it was some friends of whoever was doing all this with you. Like how they did with that winery guy.”

“And here you are.” I trudged through the mud. “Riding in on your loud as hell Harley to save the day.”

He smiled. “I said you’d know it when you heard it.”

I still couldn’t get over his being here. “How did you find us?”

“I got your messages.” He held up his cell phone. “The cell towers were out because of the hurricane, so when I got to a pay phone, I called in and checked my messages. By then, I couldn’t call you back. I went by your house and saw that you were gone, but you’d already told me that you were going to Atlanta, and to what hotel.” He shrugged. “When I spotted your big old Navigator CIA car wrecked down here, I knew it was you guys.”

It was all very matter of fact. Pure Tyree.

When we got near the car, Mallory and Sophie ran out and greeted me with a big hug.

“Are you okay?” Mallory squeezed me. There was concern in her eyes.

“I’m okay, I’m okay. Don’t worry.” I pulled them close and looked at the clearing. “We’re all okay. It’s over. The dark angel thought we would run, or that we would be too afraid to do anything. It didn’t think we’d fight.” I reached down and patted my daughter’s head. “It was wrong.”

I reached out to shake Tyree’s hand. “Thanks for all your help, my friend.”

He grasped my arm and leaned in, whispering. “How do you know for sure it’s over?”

“Well . . .” I gazed up at the clouds. “Let’s just say a little bird told me.”

Tyree grinned. “You saw something out there, didn’t you?”

I smiled back. “They can’t win this game. They’ll move on to an easier target, or they’ll just quit, but they won’t be back.”

“Son of a gun.” Tyree chuckled. “That’s good news.”

He peered over at where he had left his motorcycle. A tree had fallen on it during the storm, crushing it.

“Oh, are you kidding me?” Tyree groaned.

A car horn honked. Several drivers had pulled off the highway and were waving to us.

“Hey,” I said. “Looks like we might be able to catch a ride and get out of this rain.”

Tyree nodded, grumbling. “I’ll go check it out.” He stared at his Harley and made the sign of the cross. Then he moved off toward the hill.

I took a deep breath and scanned the grassy field again, holding my wife and daughter close. The lightning had moved on and the rain had lessened. The light, cool drops felt good on my face.

I patted Sophie’s shoulder. “We’re not afraid of some rain, are we sweetie?”

Her big eyes peered up at me from under her poncho as she clung to my waist. “Maybe a little.”

I laughed. “Okay, maybe a little.”

On the highway, headlights from a few cars lit the cab if a trucker on a CB radio.

“I’ll wait for the police and the tow truck, honey.” I kissed the top of Mallory’s head. “Why don’t you and Sophie catch a ride with Tyree and one of these other drivers, and go on ahead to the hotel? Get out of this weather, get dried off?”

She squeezed me tighter, shaking her head. “I don’t want us to be split up right now. Even if we have to stay here in the rain.”

I sighed. She was right. “Somebody should go, though.”

Tyree sloshed toward us. “I’ll go!” He looked around sheepishly. “I mean, if that’s okay. I’d like to get out of this weather. That rain suit was worthless.”

“It’s a good idea,” I said. “Go on to the hotel in Atlanta, check in and order us all some hot food. I’ll take care of the police reports and the tow truck, and then we’ll be there. Maybe an hour or so, tops.” I glanced at his crumpled motorcycle. “I’ll have the tow truck take care of that, too.”

Tyree sighed, gave me a thumbs up, and ran toward the waiting cars.

Sophie tugged on my leg. I knew what she wanted.

“Tyree!” I called after him. “Get some goldfish crackers!”

He hustled up the muddy hill. “Will do.” A car door opened as he approached. He hopped in and they were off.

“That was nice.” Mallory pulled her poncho back and looked into my eyes. “He’ll appreciate that.”

“Having to track down goldfish crackers?”

She smacked my arm playfully. “Getting to go on to a nice, dry hotel!” She put her head on my shoulder and hugged me. “With a hot shower and a warm bed and room service.”

“Oh.” I nodded. “Hey, nobody said anything about room service.”

Her smiling face was illuminated by the headlights of the highway patrol car and a tow truck as they appeared on the hill.

 


Original Chapter 43, An Angel On Her Shoulder

 

There was a ringing in my ears.

In the last flash of lightning, I thought I saw something in the reflection of the rumbling clouds. Like a face. A round face with dimples and bright eyes… smiling.

“Hey,” Tyree said, grabbing me. “Are you okay?”

I looked at him and blinked the rain out of my eyes. “I’m okay, pal.” I said.

“Come on,” Tyree urged, helping me to my feet. “Let’s get out of this field before we get struck again!” I looked back up at the clouds, but the image was gone.

Then I looked at Tyree. “Struck?”

“You got straight-on blasted by lightning, amigo! A straight shot. Came right down where you were standing.”

I looked at the ground. The tall grass was all knocked flat, but otherwise, it didn’t look any different. As the ringing in my ears subsided, I realized I was still holding the relic cross.

“Come on,” he urged. The wind was tugging at us. He slung my arm over his back to help me walk. We headed to the car.

“Tyree,” I said as I limped along. “I’m glad you came. I’m glad you’re with us. But I have to ask. At your office; I saw it. Nobody could have survived that. The blood…”

He shook his head. “It was animal blood. Pig blood. It was supposed to scare me.”

“It sure scared the heck out of me!” I said.

“Nah. When they broke in the front door, I went out the back window. Then they trashed the place and burned up my car.”

“Who did?”

He looked around at the sky. “I’d say it was some friends of whoever was doing all this with you.”

“And here you are,” I said, “riding in on your loud as hell Harley to save the day.”

He smiled. “I said you’d know it when you heard it!”

I was still surprised. “How did you find us?”

He held up his cell phone. “I got your messages!” I was incredulous. “The cell towers were out because of the hurricane, so when I got to a pay phone, I called in and checked my messages. By then, I couldn’t call you back. I went by your house and saw that you were gone, but you’d already told me that you were going to Atlanta, and to what hotel.”

He went on. “Then when I spotted your big old Navigator CIA car wrecked down here, I knew it was you guys.”

When we got near the car, Michele and Savvy greeted us with a big hug.

The rain was letting up, and some other travelers had seen our car and pulled over to offer help.

“Are you okay?” Michele asked feverishly. There was concern in her eyes.

“I’m okay, I’m okay; don’t worry.” I said. “We’re all okay. It’s over.”

My wife and daughter hugged me tightly.

The dark angel thought we would run, or that we would be too afraid to do anything. It didn’t think we’d fight.”

I reached down and patted my daughter’s head. “It was wrong.”

Then I reached out to shake Tyree’s hand. “Thanks for all your help, Tyree.”

He leaned in and whispered. “How do you know for sure it’s over?”

I looked up at the clouds. “Well, let’s just say a little bird told me.”

Tyree grinned. “You saw something out there, didn’t you?”

I smiled back. “They can’t win this game. They’ll move on to an easier target, or they’ll just quit, but they won’t be back.”

“Sonofabitch,” Tyree chuckled. “That’s good news.”

Then he looked over at where he had left his motorcycle. A tree had fallen on it during the storm, crushing it.

“Oh, are you kidding me?!” Tyree groaned.

A car horn honked. Several drivers had pulled off and were waving to us. “Hey,” I said. “Looks like some of those other drivers are offering rides to us.”

Tyree grumbled. “I’ll go check it out.” He looked down at his Harley and made the sign of the cross. Then he moved off toward the hill.

I took a moment to scan the grassy field once again. It was still raining, but the lightning had moved on. I looked up at the clouds again, and felt strangely calm. I had been scared before, but no longer. The rain felt good on my face.

I looked at Savvy. “We’re not afraid of some rain, are we sweetie?”

“Maybe a little,” she said.

I laughed. “Okay, maybe a little!”

I turned to Michele. “I’ll wait for the police and the tow truck; why don’t you and Savvy catch a ride with Tyree and one of these other drivers, and go on ahead to the hotel? Get out of this weather, get dried off?”

“I don’t want us to be split up right now,” She protested, “even if we have to stay here in the rain.”

I nodded. She was right. “Somebody should go, though…”

Tyree popped up. “I’ll go!”

Then he looked around sheepishly. “I mean, if that’s okay. I’d like to get out of this downpour. That rain suit was worthless… “

“It’s a good idea,” I said. “Go on to the hotel in Atlanta, check in and order us all some hot food. I’ll take care of the police reports and the tow truck, and then we’ll be there. Maybe an hour or so, tops.”

I looked at his crumpled motorcycle. “I’ll have the tow truck take care of that, too.”

Tyree sighed, gave me a thumbs up, and ran toward the waiting car.

Savvy pulled on my leg and whispered at me.

“Tyree!” I called again. “Get some goldfish crackers!”

He looked back. “Will do!” came the reply.

He hopped in the car and the door slammed shut. They were off.

“That was nice,” Michele said, pulling at her poncho. “He’ll appreciate that.”

“Having to track down goldfish crackers?”

She smacked my arm playfully. “Getting to go on to a nice, dry hotel!” She said. “With a hot shower and a warm bed and room service.”

“Oh,” I said, nodding. “Hey, nobody said anything about room service!”

Her smiling face was illuminated by the headlights of the highway patrol car and a tow truck as they appeared on the hill.

 


ANALYSIS

I think the only thing to add to this is whether it should be combined with the next chapter to make one chapter of about 3000 words instead of two or three in a row that are around 1000.

Now:

head shot

Let me have your comments. The next chapters will post tomorrow but they will ALL come down shortly after February 15, so don’t dawdle! (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE.)

You are readers, too. Your input will shape the final product. Be honest.

Share and reblog these! Your friends need to know this stuff, too.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Available in paperback and audio book, too!

5 thoughts on “POV: Point Of Who?

  1. Separate chapters as the last one was the nail-biting, adrenaline fuelled, holding your breath one This one is nice and light and you can breathe. When I finish a book that I really love, I am always happy when there are a couple of more chapters after so that I can see the characters settled or not.

    Liked by 1 person

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