Here’s A Little Writing Tip
Perhaps Writing Tip is not quite the right term, this is more an editing suggestion which should help sort out any Point of View problems you might have inadvertently allowed to sneak into your story.
I hardly feel experienced enough to be giving a writing tip to other writers. After all, just because I have some books published doesn’t mean I have cracked some amazing crystal ball and I now know all there is to know about writing romance. Almost every day something new comes to my attention and I’m humbled by the wealth of information out there to help us all produce better and more coherent stories for our readers. While I acknowledge this little trick is probably talked about somewhere on the Internet, I have yet to see it, so I’m game to share it with you as something I’ve found useful.
I will soon be turning my hand at editing my current work in progress – that is if I can ever get that last scene written. And no, its not the final scene when they fall into each others arms assuring us they’ll live happily ever after. That sweet romantic scene was written days ago. Its a scene slap bang in the middle of my romance that’s eluding me right now.
But back to editing. I have a fist full of editing notes, acquired over time from my editor, from the net and from writer friends as well as ideas I’ve dreamed up myself which work well for me. One of these ideas was probably inspired by the excellent Deep Editing lessons of Margie Lawson but I found it is much simpler to cope with than her advice to multi colour our work to check for problem areas.
Unstructured Point of View changes can signal the work of an amateur writer and quickly turn a good story into a confusing one. If the reader is unexpectedly head hopping, this can force them to pause and lose touch with the story. Not a good sign. While more experienced and popular writers may get away with head hopping, I believe they also need to take care. I recently read a Nora Roberts story where I had to re-read numerous sections to figure out who’s head I was in. It was confusing as well as disappointing and almost made me give up completing the story.
When writing a romance story I follow the advice of having only one pov character at a time. This may change during a scene but if this is the case, the swap is signified clearly by **** so readers aren’t confused. During my initial editing before I submit a story, I go through and highlight the whole manuscript in either pink or blue (duh!) so as to easily determine which character has the pov. I find its not so necessary to then read looking specifically for pov as this tends to hit me while I’m editing other factors. If H/h sees or thinks something while in the wrong coloured highlight, its immediately obvious to me. The highlighting stays in place until all my editing is completed. Its the last thing I do before actually submitting the story.
Does my editor still pick up POV discrepancies? Oh sure, and usually not just one or two. Hey, I’m suggesting this highlighting as a great way to narrow those problems down, not that it will eliminate them altogether. Give it a try and see if it helps you. I’d love to hear your reaction if you do.