Saturday, January 17, 2015

POV Challenges From Guest Author Beth Mattthews

Veronica sez: I’ve had One of Those Weeks, with some medical issues and hence little to no energy; therefore I’ve invited author Beth Matthews to give us a guest post. 

I turned to her because she was the person who convinced me that maybe omniscient wasn’t the one and only best way in the world to be writing these days, and helped me transition to third limited. That transition was back in 2010 when I first began to write seriously and hone my craft in an attempt to become published (which happened for me in 2012, thank you, Carina Press!)  Ms. Matthews, who’d been published in multiple genres by 2010 (under a different pen name) was very persuasive and patient! And now I love third limited and use it all the time. End of meaningful discussion from yours truly…
In the interests of full disclosure, I will also mention that Ms. Matthews is my daughter…

So thanks for pinch hitting and take it away, Guest Word Whore!

Beth Matthews: (A lot of the foundation for my knowledge about POV came from the brilliant Joanna Bourne, please check out her Technical Topics if you haven't yet. Here's a link round up of all her blogs on POV:

Most romance novels are written in third limited POV with chapters alternating between the hero and the heroine's POVs. "Third limited POV" is essentially one step back from first person. As a reader, you aren't really in the character's head, but you still stay focused on them like you are. While you read, you only see what they see, you only know what they know, and you don't head hop in the middle of a scene to another character's thoughts.

The particular challenge as a romance writer when you're doing two alternating POVs is how to make the characters different while still showing that these people are compatible. For the romance to be credible the lovers usually have to mostly think the same way, they have to share a world view. But you still want readers to be able to tell whose POV they're in.

I've come up with a couple tricks for this myself. For instance, in my latest release LOVE'S LAST CALL the hero is an author while the heroine is a mechanical engineer. For the hero, I deliberately used larger "ten dollar" words at times, and I was more likely to use metaphors and other figurative language in chapters from his POV. For the heroine, I pruned out any "ten dollar" words and simplified the prose a little to make her sound more matter of fact, less stylized.

Another easy trick is to assign each character certain words and not let the other character use those. One might talk in longer sentences while the other has a more staccato rhythm. Dropping words. Speaking quick. Bare bones delivery. (<--See what I did there? ;P)

The more books I write the more I realize that POV is one of the things I like to challenge myself with. Each book I've written has had some sort of POV challenge that I've had to try and solve. With my first book, THE BEAUTY'S BEAST, my POV challenge was the fact that the hero spends most of the book as a wolf! I really had to think about how that would feel, how he would communicate, how other people would interact with him, etc. My latest WIP, THE TIME POACHERS, is only my second time writing in first person present tense and yet I want to push myself further and use two POVs instead of the usual one for first person. Crazy, right? (Wish me luck!)

POV is one of the most important decisions a writer makes when they set down to write. It's the camera lens you use to focus the reader's attention, and choosing the wrong POV for your story can be a disaster. But even once you've chosen your POV you still have to make sure you exploit it to the fullest extent to develop your characters and serve your story.

Author bio:
Beth Matthews (a.k.a. E.D. Walker) is a Southern California girl, born and raised. She’s a total geek, a movie buff, and a mediocre swing dancer. She lives in sunny SoCal with her fiancé and two of the neediest housecats on the planet. Veronica sez: yes, indeed they ARE the neediest cats I ever met.





  1. thanks for guesting today, Beth - very interesting post!

    1. Thanks to the Word Whores for having me. :)

  2. Nice post! And I will have to go look for The Beauty's Beast, I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings.