I spent a little time this past weekend catching up on my emails and blog subscriptions. I am always behind, and sometimes the only thing I can do when I get overwhelmed is delete the lot of them. I’m glad I didn’t this time—what a treasure trove!
My favorite post came from Writer Unboxed a collaborative blog including some heavy hitters in the industry, including Donald Maass. Julia Fierro (author of The Gypsy Moth Summer) wrote the article that caught my attention, “Three Tiers of Point of View Technique: Observation, Interpretation & Imagination.” Julia defines “get closer to your character” and “every detail should work hard” and presents three different ways to show your reader what’s going on in your character’s head and heart.
I’m not going to rehash the entire article here, because you really need to read it yourself. (Yes, I feel strongly enough about it to use “really” in italics.) But here’s a clip I wish all my clients could understand:
Observation is the most superficial POV technique. Even a young child can observe. The air is cold. The teacher is angry. It is raining. It is important for writers to remember that observations are general—they tell instead of show—and don’t reveal what the character is thinking and feeling uniquely.
When Julia edits, she says, she marks certain things as “too info-only.” My clients can expect to see the same words in the future when I see something that is “too info-only” in their works.
Everything—all external stimuli—is filtered through our aggregation of experiences, memories, feelings, attitudes, beliefs. Everything. And Julia shows how to use that aggregation to deepen POV and draw the readers to the characters.
So forgive me my laziness of not coming up with something new and unique for my blog (since last Monday—sorry) and go peek at Julia Fierro’s article. You’re may have a light-bulb experience.
Let me know what you think.