POV and POV Indicators

In today’s Journal

* POV and POV Indicators
* The Writing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

POV and POV Indicators

I had a very interesting email discussion with my first reader yesterday, whose input is always invaluable, about POV indicators.

Russ made some very good catches as he read the novel. This is why I recommend strongly either finding a good first reader or reading your work aloud before you publish it.

A good first reader is one who only reads and notes what pops out at him or her, not one who tries to tell you how s/he would have written it. (grin)

Telling you how they would have written the story is the domain of critique groups and “beta” readers, and it’s why I recommend strongly against using either of those.

A POV indicator can be a valuable tool In a novel. And if you write with only one POV character, read this anyway. You never know what the next book might hold. Most of my Blackwell Ops (and other) novels had only one POV character. The last two have had several.

If the characters keep switching off in narrating the novel, it’s important that the reader be able to discern those different points of view without becoming confused or interrupting the flow of reading the story to “figure it out.”

First, two quick notes about POV indicators:

1. The POV indicator is not part of the story.

The POV indicator does not come from the creative subconscious. It is inserted by the writer (you) from outside the story when it’s necessary (a conscious-mind decision) to clarify for the reader which POV character is narrating that particular chapter or scene or section within the chapter or scene. And

2. The POV indicator is ALWAYS an author intrusion and therefore should be used Only When Necessary (OWN) to identify for the reader which character is narrating. Whether to insert one depends on the context of the scene.

That’s why I make my POV indicators as unintrusive as possible. I skip a line, add the POV indicator in italics, left justified and with no indent, then skip another line and go on with the story.

The reader can notice the indicator if s/he wants or needs to, or s/he can skip over it and continue reading.

A Note on Consistency of Use —

We all probably know consistency is of major importance within a story.

For example, if a character speaks English in a stilted manner — maybe s/he never uses contractions or s/he occasionally confuses similar words — s/he should ALWAYS speak it in a stilted manner.

Or if a character uses a signature word (or “tag” word) or phrase regularly, then s/he should use it regularly. If s/he always truncates gerunds, for example, s/he shouldn’t suddenly switch from using “seein'” to using “seeing.”

If s/he speaks with a Brooklyn dialect, s/he should always speak with a Brooklyn dialect. This goes a long way toward enabling the reader to immediately and subliminally identify the POV character.

But consistency does not enter into POV indicators. Just because you use one at the beginning of one chapter or section doesn’t mean you “have” to use one at the beginning of all other chapters or sections (OWN).

Again, POV indicators are not part of the story. They are an author intrusion. They are necessarily a functon of the conscious, critical mind. Whether and where to use them is a decision you should make on a case-by-case basis.

For example, in Blackwell Ops 16, I used them sparingly.

Chapter 13 was originally titled “Rodrigo Valenzuela,” which was also the name of the POV character. So originally I didn’t use a POV indicator to blatantly show that the POV was his.

But thanks to the input from Russ, I changed the title of the chapter to indicate what *happened* in the chapter: “Discovered.” Then I added “Rodrigo Valenzuela” as a POV indicator below that.

Here’s part of my explanation to Russ of other uses of POV indicators, slightly modified for inclusion in this topic:

“In Chapter 15, I added a ‘Soleada’ POV indicator (on Russ’ recommendation), primarily because the previous chapter was narrated by a different character. Originally I had skipped it because of her early reference in the chapter to Charlie.”

I also added a “Soleada” indicator for Chapter 16 because the opening paragraph could have been narrated by either of the main POV characters.

Back to my exerpt from my email to Russ:

“I did not use a ‘Soleada’ indicator in Chapter 17 because ‘Charlie’ is the first word of the chapter, so that context reveals Soleada as the POV character. But I did leave the indicator at the beginning of Chapter 18 because the opening sentences might have been narrated by either of them.

“I also left ‘Charlie Task’ (who some time ago in the story changed his last name to ‘Tarea’) as the indicator near the end of Chapter 20. But Charlie himself explains why in that section, especially in the last three sentences of the chapter.”

(Remember, folks, despite the quotation marks below, the following segment is narration):

“[W]hen we are together, which is most of the time, we are señor y señora Tarea.
But at the moment we are not together. And sometimes when we are not together, Charles Claymore Task surfaces.
This was one of those times.”

Back to my exerpt from my email to Russ:

“I deleted the ‘TJ’ indicator at the beginning of Chapter 22. His very distinct ‘voice’ (he’s a mobster from Jersey) makes it obvious the chapter is from his POV.

“I kept the Soleada indicator in Chapter 25 because Charlie isn’t mentioned for some distance down the page. But I deleted the one at the beginning of Chapter 26 because it’s basically a continuation (even in the action of the scene) of Chapter 25.

“No POV indicator on Chapter 29 because 1) it’s in the title (‘Charlie’s Ruminations’), and 2) ‘as Soleada slept’ is the first line. Both indicate subliminally — rather than blatantly with a separate POV indicator — that Charlie is the narrator.”

I hope this helps. For some of you, it’s probably next-level stuff. But that doesn’t mean you can’t begin using it if you deem it necessary.

As always, if you have any questions at all about any of this, please feel free to email me at harveystanbrough@gmail.com and ask.

The Writing

Yesterday morning, after I applied the fixes Russ sent me, I prepared a promo doc, then published Blackwell Ops 16: Tarea-Garcia to both D2D and Amazon. It will release on Monday, January 8.

I also wrote the topic above, then updated the publishing website (see above). Finally, I finished the short story under Numbers below.

Probably I will spend the rest of the day (yesterday) on a trip to Sierra Vista with my wife. We have some shopping to do, so….

There are still three days left in the year including today. A few days ago I said I would wait until at least January 1 to begin a new novel.

I don’t know that I can twiddle my thumbs that long. If an idea I like occurs to me, I will write it (short story) or start it (novel). Anything less would just be a silly waste of time.

Oh, I also started writing my personal year in review post. I’ll put that one up on December 31.

I’ll talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Step Three… Clean Up and Plan

Blogging Resumes Tomorrow

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1230

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. To date…… XXXXX

Writing of “The Love of Soleada”

Day 1…… 1079 words. To date…… 1079
Day 2…… 1444 words. To date…… 2523
Day 3…… 0225 words. To date…… 2748
Day 4…… 0747 words. To date…… 3495
Day 5…… 1105 words. To date…… 4600
Day 6…… 0790 words. To date…… 5390 (done)

Fiction for December…………………… 107922
Fiction for 2023…………………………. 508756
Fiction since August 1………………… 393532
Nonfiction for December……………… 22600
Nonfiction for the year……………… 278180
Annual consumable words………… 783419

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 11
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 10
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 82
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 238
Short story collections…………………… 31

Note: If you find this Journal of value and want to make a one time or recurring donation, please do not pledge through Substack. I don’t use Stripe. Instead click this link. If you can’t donate, please consider sharing this post with friends.

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.