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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Point of View

Everyone has a point of view. Some of us express ours vociferously, and others keep our POV to ourselves. :-)

In writing fiction POV, point of view, refers to the viewpoint of a character in a scene. Take a look at this exchange:

Fred stared at the gash on Franco’s forehead. The site of the blood oozing from it made him sick. “We’d better get you to a hospital and have that wound stitched up.”

Franco wiped his muddy hand over his cut. “It’s fine. It’ll quit bleeding in a minute. Let’s finish up this job before we do anything else.

Fred gave him a reluctant nod. “Sure thing.” Just once, he decided, he’d like to see his older brother behave like a regular guy instead of a superhero.

This scene is written in Fred’s POV. He is observing the oozing blood. He sees the muddy hand. He knows the nod he gives is a reluctant one. He wishes his brother wasn’t so tough, maybe because he feels somehow inferior (an implication).

Writers carefully choose the viewpoint character in every scene. They understand that a scene is most powerful when the POV used belongs to the character who has the most at stake.

Staying within a character’s POV can be tricky for a writer, particularly if the scene being written is full of unusual circumstances.

In my book Male Fraud, a recently released romantic comedy, there are a number of scenes containing unusual circumstances, which made writing these scenes challenging.

In this story Terry Fiscus pretends to be a man in order to get a job with a pro football team, and she ends up falling for the coach. It was definitely a challenge to keep the POV consistent when Coach Dan’s viewpoint regarded Terry as a guy.

Check out this snippet from a scene in which Terry, as the male trainer wearing her man suit, ends up spending the night in the same room as the coach due to an overbooked hotel.

He (Dan) tugged off his tee shirt abruptly. “You don’t have any objection to my sleeping in my shorts, do you Fiscus? I’m not a pajama man.”

The trainer tugged at the sweatshirt he was wearing. “It’s your room too, Coach. You should be comfortable.”

“Good.” He threw his tee shirt across the room. “Bleedin’ hotels get hot even in the middle of a blizzard.” He looked at his roommate. “You going to sleep in the sweat suit you’re wearing?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Why don’t you strip down to your shorts so you don’t have a heat stroke?”

In the coach’s POV Terry is “he.” Notice too the way Dan talks to Terry. He certainly wouldn’t be talking to her in the same manner if he realized she was Teresa, the woman he loved.

In the above scene from Male Fraud using Dan’s POV adds tension and, more importantly, humor to the story. Beefing up suspense, fear, humor, etc. are also reasons why authors choose the particular POV they use in scenes.

While it is easier for readers to follow a storyline when writers use a single POV in any given scene, it is sometimes necessary to switch POV during a scene. If, however, the writer does the job skillfully and obviously enough for the reader to follow along smoothly, this change in POV is not a problem. Take a look at this snippet taken from a scene at the Christmas ball in Laura’s Lost Love, one of my early 20th Century Heart Junction Series romances.

Laura spoke with Tom and took note of the people in the room as they moved about. Tom was a good dancer, an easy talker, a gentle man.

When the music stopped, he thanked Laura for the dance and returned to Elizabeth. As Laura turned to go to Angelina, she nearly stepped into a gentleman who was reaching to touch her shoulder. He asked her to dance, and she accepted. For the next hour the pattern was the same. Laura no sooner finished dancing with one man when another would ask her to join him for the next dance.

Gavin had watched Laura all evening. She’d danced with nearly every man, some of them twice. He’d tried desperately to get to her so he could monopolize some of her time, but Stephanie Porter kept getting in his way.

The shift from Laura’s to Gavin’s POV happens without jarring or confusing the reader even though there is no physical break such as a * * * between paragraphs.

As a reader, I appreciate the writer’s effort to use POV in a masterful way which makes reading enjoyable and easy.

If you’d like more writing tips, check out my blog at
If you’d like to learn more about Male Fraud, Laura’s Lost Love or any of my other stories go to: .

Fran Shaff
Award-Winning Author of Romance and Young People’s Novels

1 comment:

Sherry Gloag said...

I admit I do like the smooth transistion of POV without the *** that is so popular these days.

I enjoyed your snippets and Male Fraud sound hilarious.