20 April 2011

PoV Pop Quiz

PoV Pop Quiz

We’ve discussed point of view (PoV), what it is and how it works, over the past two days. Let’s take this discussion from theory to a practical pop quiz. Below are several paragraphs written in third person deep PoV, each containing an accidental break. See if you can find all of them.

The answers are at the end, so no peeking.

Here’s the first one, “borrowed” from the rough draft of Kay Springsteen’s upcoming sweet romance, Elusive Echoes:

“Ry’s got me on babysitting duty tomorrow morning.” Sean swirled his beer, keeping his gaze on the amber liquid sloshing against the edges of the mug. Mel gripped the towel beneath her folded hands more tightly. She’d likely need it soon.

That one’s pretty simple, though, isn’t it? Let’s try something a little tougher. This is from a previous draft of my upcoming historical mystery, Deal with the Devil:

The German officer’s earlier anger had drained, leaving his brown eyes clear, and Clarke knew he wasn’t imagining the touch of derision now in their depths.

Remember, anything that’s not from the leading character’s perspective, anything he or she wouldn’t naturally think about, qualifies as a break in deep PoV.

Let’s try another. This is also from Deal and it’s pretty similar to the preceding one:

For one crazy moment, Clarke believed he had known this man at some point in their past, that he had only to sweep away his agitation to remember a more innocent age. But of course that was impossible.

Here’s one final example. This one I’m creating off the top of my head, but it’s a commonly seen error:

“You don’t want to mess with me,” Luke said, a hint of menace in his voice.

Feel free to discuss these in the comments if you like.
Or you can read the answers after the blurb and excerpt.

In August 1940, German Army Major Faust is unexpectedly captured by the English and he must escape before they break him. But every time he gets away, a woman is raped and murdered, and the English are looking for someone to hang. Faust must catch the killer, even though he’s helping the enemy—even though he’s making a Deal with the Devil.

Stoner withdrew his silver cigarette case from his breast pocket and lit up, too, leaving the case open on the desk. “Well. Let us review your situation, shall we? First, you have readily admitted you serve in the Wehrmacht, not the Luftwaffe.”

Faust paused, uncertain where Stoner was leading him. “That’s right.”

Stoner tilted his head. “I was not aware German Army officers crewed Air Force warplanes.”

He winced. Should he try to bluff something here? No, the intelligence lectures he had mostly slept through had repeatedly emphasized never lie to an interrogator, and although he couldn’t recall why, there had to be a good reason. “We don’t.”

“So we have immediately established you are not here for a legitimate military purpose, which leaves two possibilities: either you are here as the result of an accident—”

“Which is the case.”

“—or you are here for an illegitimate purpose.”

“An illegitimate purpose?” Faust dragged again, thinking through the implications of that phrase. “You mean espionage?”


He let smoke drift from his mouth. Him as a spy—now that was a novel concept. “You know, Mr. Stoner, I was starting to like you—”

“I’m touched.” The irony was light.

“—but you play rough.”

Stoner tapped ash and continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “Your German military intelligence service, the Abwehr, has experienced difficulty obtaining information regarding our defenses in these islands.”

He took a long last drag and stubbed the quarter-inch butt out in the glass ashtray on the table at his elbow. “I didn’t know that.”

“The Royal Air Force, on the other hand, has had remarkable success against Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft, which has denied the Abwehr aerial photographs of those defenses.”

“I didn’t know that, either.”

“As it would be criminal folly for the German high command to attempt an invasion without first fully analyzing the defenses of their intended target, the Abwehr has little option but to infiltrate agents within England.”

Faust cradled his injured arm against his side. He could see where the conversation was going now and Stoner’s relentless logic left him cold.

“Herr Major, if the Abwehr selected an agent to infiltrate the Oxford area, it would be someone with your precise qualifications.”

Even knowing it was coming, the blow was a knockout. Faust rubbed his neck and forced himself to breathe. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Then allow me to conclude.” Stoner folded his hands atop his spotless blotter. “We know there is a German intelligence network in place within Oxford.”

“You know more than I do.”

“We know that because we’ve broken it.”

“Then it wasn’t so hot, was it?”

“And they told us another agent was coming.”

Faust quit breathing again.

“Under these circumstances, Herr Major, surely you understand we must verify your position before accepting you as an honorable prisoner of war.”

Answers to Quiz 

1. The end of the paragraph shows us Mel’s thoughts, so we’re in her PoV. How could she know what Sean’s actually looking at? He might be thinking he needs his nails trimmed and not even notice the beer’s about to spill.

2. We’re in Clarke’s PoV, looking at the German officer. But Clarke wouldn’t be thinking about what he knows or doesn’t know, especially since his life is at stake in this scene. An alternative method of phrasing this might be, “The touch of derision in their depths wasn’t subtle.” Or some such.

3. Yeah, it’s the same thing: Clarke wouldn’t be thinking about what he believes or doesn’t, while he’s trying to find some means of surviving. This one could be rephrased with a question. “Had he known this man, perhaps years ago?” Or it could be rewritten as:

There was something familiar about this man, as if Clarke had known him at some point in their past and if he could sweep away his agitation, he’d remember a more innocent age. It was the sort of feeling to drive him crazy, but of course it was impossible.

4. Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about our voices and how we sound. If this imaginary Luke is fixating upon putting “a hint of menace” in his voice, then he’s pretty egocentric or at least comes across that way.

Thanks for your informative and fun quiz, Cheryl :-) 

Please come back tomorrow  and discover how to become 'An Educated Writer'


Kayspringsteen said...

By the way, with Cheryl's excellent insight, I fixed the PoV error in Elusive Echoes - grin. PoV seems to be big this week - a couple of blogs are addressing the issue. The thing is not to be discouraged when you make PoV errors - and you will make them. That's one thing the crit and editing processes will help uncover. Extra eyes help. Can't wait to have Deal in my hot little hands!

the1940mysterywriter said...

Thanks, Kay!

Felicia said...

Thanks for the information. This was a big problem for me in past, I'm hoping that I have it under more control now...but as Kay said sometimes we still get caught doing it.

the1940mysterywriter said...

Over and over again, Felicia. I still get caught, every ms.