How To Effectively Handle POV Switches

As writers, we invade our characters minds so we can blurt to the reader all that we find. In a way, we’re Mind-walkers, and that’s a super badass name. You’re welcome for that.

Anyway, in many occasions, we use our awesome Mind-walking abilities to switch between different minds in a very short time.

***DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!*** Many Mind-walkers can’t handle the transition and get lost. This is also known as the Point-of-view (POV) paradox:  you can’t be inside two minds at the same time.

The POV paradox generated a super strict rule that says ‘Dude, don’t switch POV, okay? Just don’t. Seriously.’ But as with many things in life, no one knew it was possible until someone went there and did it.

THIRD PERSON MIND-WALKING:

So usually, if you want to jump from head to head, you need to either:

  1. Start a different chapter or
  2. Separate the paragraphs by ***, or
  3. Insert a double-line space.

Pretty simple right? Most people might tell you to NEVER GO for option 3, BUT if you feel adventurous, know that it’s totally okay.

i.e. “Thomas’ stomach fell to his feet as Carly drew her lips near. He had wanted this for so long, but now it wasn’t the time. Until the whole Maduke problem was fixed, they couldn’t be together. So he stepped back and looked away.

If Carly’s heart had been made of glass, it would have shattered. She gaped at Thomas, not knowing what to say, or better yet, knowing exactly what to say, but not having the courage to spill it.”

Did you notice we got out of Thoma’s head in order to jump into Carly’s? That’s the secret to short-time Mind-walking: distancing yourself from mind one, so you can jump inside mind two. But remember: YOU SHOULDN’T DO THIS FREQUENTLY.  Personally, I wouldn’t jump back into Thomas’ head for a while after pulling that one. So only use this awesome new power when strictly necessary and remember: with great power, comes great responsibility.

  FIRST PERSON MIND-WALKING:

The key is the character’s assumption. Your character is a living, breathing animal (well, at least inside your head). So if you’re writing in the first person, your character can assume what another character is feeling (and many times he can be completely wrong, and that makes for great storytelling).

i.e. “I glance at Peter, his eyes wet. He must miss Janet a lot, but then again, who wouldn’t? The girl was perfect. He scratches his right eye, as if he’s about to cry.

“Bob,” he says with a hoarse voice. “Damned fly bulls-eyed my freaking cornea. Can we go to a doctor?”

And another one: “Martin nods, but just before he leaves, he turns back to me, mouth half open. I think he wants to say something but for the life of him, he can’t.”

No blasphemy there folks, it’s all the character’s assumptions. Using modal verbs like ‘may’ and ‘must’, or verbs like ‘think’ or ‘assume’ , will help a lot, but you don’t necessarily need them.

So, today we’ve covered the basics of Mind-walking (a.k.a POV Switching). If you want to learn more, Emma Darwin has an excellent post on this.

Cheers and until next time!

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The FIVE Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel

It’s time, isn’t it? You need to put on paper the story that has been lurking in the back of your head. The need to tell this story echoes inside you like a thousand jungle drums. You’re ready to become a WRITEROh hail yes! Lemme hear a Hallelujah brothers and sisters!

The moment you decide to write a novel is a beautiful thing. It’s like going into labor, in a way. At first it’s scary and intimidating, and you’ll have a painful road ahead of you, but in the end, you’ll hold that story in your arms and know that it was totally worth it.

But before you being your journey, let me give you a few tips that will save you a LOT of time. And I mean a WHOLE  LOT of time.

The FIVE Basic Steps Before Starting a Novel

STEP 1- READ.

Seriously, READ A FRIGABOB LOT. Wanting to be a writer but not a reader is insane. Reading other people’s work is THE BEST way to improve your own. You’ll learn by assimilation and best of all, without particularly noticing.

Some will tell you to read all genres so you can bring a fresh approach to your book, and that’s 100% valid. Personally, I read mostly the genres I work with because 1) I exist therefore I benchmark, and 2) depending on the genre you read, you might end up with Frankenstory, a  novel with aliens, Victorian ladies, and a guy whose farts smell like cheddar cheese.

On second thought, that would be pretty awesome.

STEP 2- OUTLINE

Take this step with a grain of salt. A bunch of people go free style and it works for them, but I’m one to believe that knowing the beginning, middle and end of your story, before you start, is extremely important.

STEP 3- CHOOSE YOUR POV

Who is telling this story? Is it Bill, the old shop-owner with a drinking problem? Or his wife, Dorothy, a recovering Zombie? Maybe both?

I wouldn’t choose a bunch of different POVs, though. My limit is four, even if you’re writing in third-person omniscient.

STEP 4- CHOOSE YOUR NARRATIVE MODE WISELY.

There’s so many people who start and end a story in third-person past, and then switch everything to first-person present, or whatever, and it’s a HUGE waste of time.You basically have to change your entire novel, so please get it right the first time. You’ll thank me later. And if you don’t know what narrative mode is, check this.

STEP 5- DON’T THINK…TOO MUCH

You need to let it flow and create your own experience. Don’t edit meticulously, just write and write until you can’t write anymore. From time to time, I like to check if what I’m writing matches with my outline, and then decide what I should do. But I’m a control-freak, so you don’t need to follow me on this one.

Once you’re done, let your manuscript sit for a while, then pick it up and edit the schnitzel out of it.

Good luck!

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