You think you’re only writing one character’s thoughts?
Today we’ll be looking at one single-yet HUGE-common mistake writer’s keep making. But don’t worry-once you realize what it is and practice it, it’ll become second nature to fix it!
Let’s get started!
The Huge POV Problem
While common in almost every POV (Point Of View), this mistake I’ll be talking about today mainly occurs in 1st Person POV, although this mistake can happen just as often in 3rd Person POV, so watch out! (simply for this blog post, though, I will only reference to 1st Person POV)
When writing in 1st Person, you as the writer have a lot to juggle. Questions like: What’s going on in his head right now? What’s he feeling? What’s he seeing? are ALWAYS running through our heads, and it can be pretty easy to slip up and forget something. Which is right where this tricky mistake decides to bust out it’s grand entrance!
yes the GIF needed to be in there, okay?
Here’s the thing: With our minds so focused on what the protagonist is thinking, feeling, saying, etc….we actually end up subconsciously writing the thoughts, feelings, etc. of another character.
Here’s how it happens!
In Troubleshooting Your Novel, Steven James writes,
[Y]ou might write, “From across the room I noticed Jerome idly rubbing his finger against this thumb,” but not “From across the room I noticed Jerome subconsciously rubbing his finger against his thumb.”
Did you notice the difference between the two sentences?
Instead of just saying ‘idly’-which can be inferred by just looking at someone-he said, ‘subconsciously’ which cannot be inferred by just looking at someone because as a human you can only know what’s going on in YOUR head alone, not someone else’s.
You cannot infer that he’s doing it subconsciously because you humanly cannot know whether that character knows or doesn’t know that he’s doing what he’s doing. For all we know, Jerome is purposefully rubbing his finger against his thumb. But we can’t know any of this, because we are in the viewpoint of the protagonist and not a different character’s mind.
(And no, even if your character is a telepath, this is still incorrect grammar). (Nice try).
The only ‘exception’ to this rule
no, not telepathy is when you’re writing has an omniscient POV-although that’s pretty rare nowadays. If you’re not writing in omniscient, though, this is definitely something nifty to be aware of doing and not doing when writing.
Unsure of whether your descriptive word choice is incorrect grammar? Ask yourself this:
- Can I know what action this person is doing or what he is feeling by just looking at him?
If you can’t humanly know what he is doing or feeling (and might I add, you would mostly likely only know the feelings of another person based on their expression), then you must take it out.
***ALSO! Last week I finally buckled down and got Pinterest! I’m currently working on fixing up and pinning all my graphics, so bear with me for a bit while I get that ready. In the meantime, check out my profile and have fun looking around!
Have you ever made/heard of this mistake before?
Do you think it’s useful to be aware of these things?
Like these posts? Wanna have more? Subscribe to my email list to receive inside info and lots of fun!
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment down below.
Thanks for reading!