May 1st, 2010

Saturn

The Experience of Reading and Getting into the Character(s)

We want readers to immerse themselves in our world, in our characters and their problems. And one way to do that is through a deep POV, so that they see this world and these problems through our character's eyes.

Over the past couple of decades, the trend has been toward deeper and deeper POV, including a huge number of first person narratives. It seems to me that this deeper POV, in either first or third, is what differentiates the experience of reading a book from that of watching a movie.

Basically, watching a movie is passive and you're removed from the experience. There are exceptions (Alfred Hitchcock was a master at immersing the audience in the story), but it's harder to do with a movie or TV show.

With a novel, you can literally get inside the character's head, read her thoughts, see what he sees. But, to do that and do it well, you need to really, really know that character. You, as the author – Me, as the author – needs to become that character and show the world the way that character sees it.

Showing the story from that character's perspective is part of that. Revealing the character through what s/he observes is also part of that. And it all contributes to the character's voice. As with so much about writing, the more specific you get, the clearer the voice will be.

What POV do you employ? And how do you get into the character's head?