Earlier this week I posted part one of my personal editing checklist, as compiled over three years of agent stalking and reading every editing blog post I could get my hands on. The good news is – you liked it! Thanks so much for all the tweets, likes and favorites of my post, and I hope you enjoy part two just as much. I present to you…
The Over-do-er’s Editing Checklist: Point of View
1. If there are multiple changes in POV, check that they’re all necessary. Are they increasing tension or confusing/slowing the action? If you NEED to show a character’s thoughts, can you imply them though their actions or through the internal observations of your main character? (Showing a character’s judgement of others can strengthen POV and character anyway, see point 9). Can you combine passages to reduce the number of changes?
2. Review each POV/scene change and make sure the POV is clear within the first sentence.
3. Beware that you can’t always count on the location – for example a particular character’s house – to give away the POV. Look out for instances where you’ve only assumed it because you’re the writer and you’re used to a certain setting meaning a certain character.
4. Check for head-hops, e.g. POV character describing their eye colour, or knowing another character’s intent without seeing any obvious clues.
5. Check for filters, e.g. I watched, I saw, I heard, I felt, I wondered. For example,
…if you were living that event you wouldn’t think ‘I’m watching this happen’, you would just think ‘this is happening’.
6. Describe places/people using words the POV character would use, and…
7. …Cut descriptions of things your character couldn’t or wouldn’t naturally perceive.
8. To deepen POV even further, use pointing words – such as ‘that/there’ – to place your character in the centre of their world. I.e…
…the character could say they went to ‘the mirror above their dresser’, but if they were truly in their own head they would just say they went to ‘the mirror’.
9. Get in your character’s head. Show their judgements and opinions, and don’t filter them through the words ‘I thought’. E.g. The beam of headlights swung in across the parking lot. Jack. Late, as usual.