Beth Barany, writer and writing coach, did an hour-long live twitter chat today. I tweetily asked “What is the best way to really get your reader into the POV character’s head?”
She tweetily answered, “Create empathy by showing the thought processes, emotions, action from the inside out. #askawritingcoach”
Thank you, Beth. You packed great advice into 140 characters, including the hash tag.
I asked because I am working on two short stories due on Oct 1 (Scripting Change and Fault Zone). They feel dry. Why? I related actions and dialog, but not nearly enough of the point-of-view (POV) character’s thoughts and feelings. For nearly every action to the POV, the POV should have a thought/feeling reaction.
One story POV: Karate Queen, a supervillainess gone straight. Confident, poetic, arrogant, but regretting her past and helping poor abused women. What does the Karate Queen think after tossing Super Holly (the woman who put her in jail) onto the mat three times to help teach those women self-defense? Happiness? Satisfaction? Boredom that Holly didn’t make her sweat even a little? How does she feel when a villain tries to steal one of the abused women by turning Holly’s repressed anger at the Queen up to 1111, and then the Queen discovers that her powers can no longer stop Holly’s super-sledge-hammer fists? Fear? Desperation? Courage? How do I say that in her confident, poetic thoughts?
Another story POV: Cal the Intellectual, a mix of Roger Ebert and Mr. Spock, and a little bit of Batman for scaring crooks. What does he think when the super-hulking Harry Headbutt glares down at him while Super Holly, the love of his life, is preening and posing for paparazzi? Confusion? Fear? Frustration at Holly not doing her job? Calculating how to dodge Headbutt fists that can squash him flatter than a Swedish pancake? (I know those things, I have made and eaten them for decades.) How does he feel when Holly, who was possessed by Bobby Breaker (the evil Soul Surfer), finally fights back against Bobby by machine-gun punching herself in the face because she can take it and Bobby can’t? Love? Pride? Hope? How do I say that in his super smart, movie critic thoughts?
My current critique group said that in my Kittygirl story, they rode in Kittygirl’s POV head. Goodie. I was doing some POV thoughts and feelings in my latest two stories. But I need … nay, I want … nay, I LUST for more!
I can’t wait to work on my two stories again! Strap myself in and ride those two heads! Cranial rollercoaster, here I come! Except I am limited to 2500 words. I’ll likely need to cut some. There is always a little fat.
P.S. This POV lust started burning with me reading Call Me Pomerory. James Hanna strapped me into Pomeroy’s head, and I rollercoaster-rode every arrogant thought and lust-charged feeling of that crazy narcissist in reaction to everyone in the people who need to know his greatness. FUN!!!
P.P.S. In my previous post’s YouTube link, Alfred Hitchcock did not care about what the story was about, just how to use that story to evoke an emotional response. Action is the story, but without emotion, action dries up.