Cyndi Lord joins Booktalk with Eileen discussing the novel-crafting element Point of View (POV)

woman-writing-a-bookBefore I turn this blog over to Cyndi Lord, let me share something about my writing journey.

One day early 2014, I completed my first novel’s manuscript through the NaNoWriMo challenge.  I wrote furiously, finished the story and necessary number of words.  Delighted I was but knew it was riddled with zillions of flaws I wasn’t even aware of.  I was a reader, an avid one at that, not a writer.  I had always wanted to write a novel, but as many of you experience, life just gets in the way. 

If it isn’t a demanding job putting you on edge, even holding down a couple of jobs, or little ones scampering around the house, to dealing with health issues—all taking the front seat, how is a want-to-be writer to write?

I refuse to make more excuses, yes, that’s what they are.  Why couldn’t I read less, for example, stay up No-more-Excuses-Picture-quotea little longer than the rest of the household or get up an hour earlier?  It’s a matter of learning how to carve out time, taking your writing off the want-to-do list and putting it on the have-to-do list.

Now, I fall asleep at night thinking about the next scene, tweaking the previous scene.  I’m making progress. I have so much more to learn!

Where are you in your journey?  I would love to hear from you.

Today, Cyndi Lord joins us with an article she wrote on the novel element Point of View (POV)—the focus of my month’s study.  I hope you benefit from this article.


Writing in Point of View

Cyndi LordBy Cyndi Lord, Bestselling author

Stay in POV; these words fill a writer with anxiety and feelings of failure. They thought they were staying in point-of-view. Many books about the style of writing and articles indicating a knowledge of how the dilemma is solved between the pages leave us more confused. I’m willing to share the secret with you here. Just like showing and not telling, you, the author, have to shut up. Yes, I told you to shut up. Why? You are not in the story. You are not the POV character, and everything you know has nothing to do with what the POV character knows.

Let me give you an example of a real problem in stories. The POV character sees a woman for the first time and knows nothing about her. Author knows everything. Author has developed the new character. Author writes background and motivation of the new character to inform the reader. The reader jumped out of the head of the POV character because the author butted into the story like a pesky child, got in the face of the reader, and shouted, “I know stuff,” while waving both hands above their headg. Authors writing information to a scene they alone have in their character development notes is intrusive and unnecessary.

Imagine you have placed a specialized camera on the forehead of your POV character and through their sight will shoot a silent movie. Wait. This camera is specialized and hooked up to the POV character’s senses. The sight, hearing, taste, ability to feel, smell, and think will all be reported through the camera. From your first sentences to the end of the POV of that character’s scene, nothing, and I mean nothing not coming from that camera can be written. Why? Because you are writing in POV of that character. Add all the senses you can. Put the reader in the POV character’s body and leave them there. Imagine it is our POV character Brenda, who sees the new character for the first time. Let’s build a scene that gives Author’s information from Brenda.

Plush carpeting encased Brenda’s high heels when she followed a hostess into the dining area.  Forks and knives of other patrons tapped against china over the rumble of quiet conversations. Roasting meat, spices, and hints of expensive wine filled the air with inviting aromas. She licked her lips and strawberry lip balm caressed her tongue. The hostess smiled a gestured to an overstuffed chair upholstered in diamond tuck, cream material. The table for two was covered with a rose-colored lace tablecloth. Less than a foot away, a woman in her early twenties sat alone at the next table. Her silk gown was outdated and the overlay sagged and showed piling on the bodice. Brenda smiled, nodded, and took her seat.

 Note; I have set the scene. Everything is from Brenda’s senses. What she will learn about the other woman will happen during dinner when they strike up a conversation. Let’s say they become friends or client and attorney, wherever the first encounter takes them, nothing can be learned about the other woman or anyone else except through Brenda. Author can never report anything another character thinks, feels, smells, tastes, sees, or thinks. Brenda can see and hear another person. Imagine a scene where a waiter pours boiling water into a cup sitting on a table in front of a man. A little boy runs into the waiter and the stream of water moves over the seated man’s lap. Brenda “sees” what happens, “sees” the man’s facial expression, “hears” him scream, and can “think” (in italics) how much that must hurt. Brenda cannot report through her senses what the man or the waiter feel.

Keep the specialized camera going all the time. Your novel can be better than a movie because this camera gives you the ability to use all the senses of your POV character to keep the reader engrossed.  

About eileendandashi

I am a lover of books, both reading and writing. 2018 marks the beginning of my own journey from writer to published author. This blog will showcase various authors' thoughts on the elements of novel crafting, and my attempts to find my voice in writing. While journaling this journey, I hope to encourage others to follow their dreams. Book reviews continue as I have the last four years, only making time for my new pursuits.
This entry was posted in Guest Authors, Interviewing authors, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Cyndi Lord joins Booktalk with Eileen discussing the novel-crafting element Point of View (POV)

  1. S J Vinks says:

    Great insight Cyndi Lord about the importance of POV in storytelling. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Mastering this technique will help good stories become the best they can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you SJ Vinks for stopping by and reading. I’m finding my way through all the elements a good story much do well to make it great. I’ll be sharing my own work in a couple of weeks for comments. Yes, I’m asking for the slaughter. But anyone who comments would need to say something good and then something not so good. I don’t want to get too demoralized.


  3. David Bailey says:

    Very helpful article. POV slipups are so easy to do, but putting the method described here to practice helps a great deal. Thank you for putting your time into this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, David. I know her explanation should make it easier for all of us. Wear that camera which sees and senses!


  5. On Spirits' Wings says:

    When I reached out to find an editor for my upcoming book I hoped to find someone who wouldn’t mince words. I wanted an honest assessment all ego aside. Then I was introduced to Cyndi Lord.

    Before going further, I thought I would read one of Cyndi’s novels to see what she was about. I absolutely loved how she was able to draw me in, right from the first sentence. I felt as though I was pulled along into the story. I couldn’t wait to find out what the character would do next. What was Cyndi doing to have me feel so involved in her story?

    Once hired, my first lessons with Cyndi was this idea of POV. I didn’t really understand at first; thought I was already doing it. However, with some guidance I began to realize how to phrase things anew. Not––”I pushed the gate open and stepped through” but, “I push the gate open and step through.” Not––“I reached for the handrail and walked down the stairs” but, “I reach for the handrail and place one foot on the step below.”

    These subtle changes made throughout my writing transformed my work. This was missing element, the one I felt but didn’t comprehend when I read Cyndi’s book. When we use POV the reader experience is vastly different. Rather than an outsider looking in at the story – the reader literally does what the character does, feels what the character feels. POV allows the reader to BE Brenda, in the example above. How much more powerful will the reader’s experience be than finding themselves jump in response to a startling event because they are right there experiencing it with the character? Cyndi explained, ‘Show don’t tell.” It took me a while but wow! I am so pleased to have been guided in how to use POV in my work.

    This camera on the forehead idea is really a helpful one. You are going to love hearing what others say about your work, if you can get a handle on POV.


  6. Cyndi Lord says:

    Thank you, S J Vinks – your comment means a lot to me. I can’t wait to see your book in print.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Cyndi Lord says:

    David Bailey – you’re my star student. The more I read your work, the prouder I become.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cyndi Lord says:

    Spirit’s wings – you’re completely correct. You’ve mastered showing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Michelle Gent says:

    Ah yes, I remember this lesson! It’s SO difficult to ‘get’ at first, but worth it in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m enjoying these responses to Cyndi’s article. I hope you’ll all come back on Friday, the 19th to hear her discussing the various POV’s a writer can use. I’ve a question for Cyndi. Even though you are showing the POV through a particular character, written in first or third person, can there also be narrative or as some would call it exposition? When should that be used? Or perhaps that better question is how should that be used? Does it take separate paragraphs yet in the same scene with the one camera on one of the character’s head?


  11. Anonymous says:

    Eileen, please, give me an example of exposition that moves a story along?


  12. Cyndi Lord says:

    Sorry. That was me above,


  13. Cyndi, I suppose I’m talking about description setting or some backstory which is outside the camera’s take. Do we HAVE to remain in a character’s head or POV all the time? That’s my question.


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