Isn’t Point of View for touchy feely books?

Q: I write action, I love movies. I even visualize my story in terms of cinematic techniques. Isn’t POV just for touchy-feely books?

A: Not at all! And I’ll explain what it does for you later, but first you hit on a good point. The plotting method described is very common, and the first thing we need to do when learning point of view is turn off the movie camera–unless, that is, you actually are writing a script.

But if you’re writing a novel, please, turn off the movie camera, and climb inside one of your character’s bodies. Stay inside their skin for the duration of the scene. It’s like riding a bike. Simple in theory, but we fall down a lot as we’re learning balance.

As to your main question, what is better: watching a movie showing someone riding a roller coaster, or actually riding one? Obviously, it’s the latter. So why would you settle for writing a screenplay disguised as a novel, when you can give your reader an actual roller coaster ride without ever leaving their home? That’s exactly what POV does for your reader.

Yes, you write action. Yes, you’re not keen on sitting around, pondering your feelings. You’d rather be doing something about your problems, not whining about them, right? I’m betting your POV characters are that way, too. Why ever would your men (or women) of action be standing around thinking and relating, and generally getting all touchy-feely? So POV does not at all necessitate throwing a ton of emotion and pondering into your book. If it’s not appropriate to your character, you’d  in fact be violating POV if you sat your character down like that.

The most basic goal of POV is to pull the reader out of the movie seat and right through the movie screen, inside the film itself. Fiction’s not satisfied anymore to merely tell the reader about folks riding a roller coaster. Today, our goal is to put the reader on a roller coaster. The best way to accomplish this is staying inside the physical body of one of the characters in the scene.

We don’t just want our readers to watch Indiana Jones doing cool stuff; we want them to become Indiana Jones and do the cool stuff themselves. The more intimate your POV, the more easily you’ll accomplish that.

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