Okay, so after spending nearly an entire night trying to figure this one out, and after getting only a few hours of good-enough sleep, I am slowly but surely beginning to see what went wrong with the critique AND what is wrong with my writing from the readers POV perspective.
I need to apologize to myself as well. I know it wasn’t just a negative remark made that set me off yesterday. Heck, I received negative remarks with Chapter 1 and still felt over-the-moon about a critique! I knew and anticipated bad remarks about my writing. It’s why I posted it in the first place.
I need to know how to improve myself and my writing. I wasn’t angry about the fact that someone dissed my work. I was upset about hearing the same, old story again and NOT knowing what it means, where to find it to fix it, or how I always end up hearing that remark.
I know this. I’m sorry I let myself get worked up over such a frustrating dilemma, so I’m patting myself on the back right now and telling myself that it’s okay, I can work this out, and I will. I will figure out what this POV thing is all about and where it goes haywire in my own writing.
Going back over everything I submitted, and then re-reading the comments made, there is only one conclusion I can come to, and it isn’t any easier for me to swallow than for anyone else who might be following along. She was wrong.
She was wrong, but so was I.
I also re-read all of the articles and definitions of the various POV styles and came to the same conclusion. I am writing in 3rd person, and that is about it. And, I’m not breaking ALL of the rules, just wrongly wording the way that others – aside from the main characters – think and feel in that moment.
But, am I?
Here is an example of a 3rd Person POV description taken from the Scribophile website by Brian Davis.
Jonathan—a weak but honest man—entered the restaurant, and found Margie waiting at a back table. He notified the waiter and sat down next to Margie, playing with his tie to keep down his nerves. Margie was a harsh woman, and it was impossible for Jonathan to predict how she would react to his news.
The company Margie was heavily invested in had been struggling for a while. If it collapsed, she would lose nearly a hundred million dollars. She noticed Jonathan’s nervousness and frowned.
Unfortunately for her, the worst case scenario had come true. Jonathan was merely the messenger.
So, with this example, I can honestly and confidently say that I am right and am writing in a style that is consistent with and true to its nature. Two characters are mentioned within a single paragraph, and both are conveying opinion about the other.
Where it gets tricky for me is in another description of the same thing (WikiHow):
Third person omniscient is a point of view in which the writer masterfully switches from one character’s point of view to another’s. Using this technique allows you to provide information to your readers that they wouldn’t get if you used another point of view technique, because your narrator knows and sees everything and can move from character to character.
This information tells me that I am on the right track and am allowed to interject. Even if I use an outside character (not the main leads) IF they are present in that particular scene. I am permitted to offer up his thought processes, opinions, and feelings about that scene and the lead or leads in it. At the same time, it sounds as if the limit comes in how much information the author can share OR which of the scene characters should convey the information. I think I do this, but maybe not in a way that is easy to follow and THAT is what I should be searching for and changing in my own writing.
So, I went over Chapter 2 and made revisions in areas where I figured the mistakes were. And then I re-read the work, and it just sounded more weird. I’ve heard that ‘tell’ is worse than ‘show’, and at the same time, I hear that readers can’t stand too much ‘description’. This, to me, is contradictory information. Are you interested in what the characters look like, what they think, and how they feel – or do you just want to figure it all out on your own, as you read along? How much ‘show’ do you want if ‘description’ isn’t your cup of tea?
Alas ~ If I hear the same comment all the time, “POV confusion”, this tells me I am doing something wrong. I know this and I want to fix it, but I still can’t. I’m still not able to because I can’t see or find it in my writing. The examples that seem clear one minute end up fuzzy and confusing the next.
Last night, I read dozens of 3rd Person om passages and STILL likened it to the way I write. Nothing stood out, caught my eye, or made me see where the fault of my own writing lies.
This morning there was another message from the person helping me with my writing (I’m helping with hers, too) and BELIEVE ME, I like her and I think she likes me, too. I want to read more of her story, and she tells me she wants to do the same. I was upset WITH MYSELF yesterday, not the critiques. But, in the message, she admitted to writing in 3rd person.
So, I re-read the 1st chapter of her work that I critiqued for her and … I’m sorry, but if that is the case then how can the first word of the first sentence in the first paragraph start with “I” ? I and she, actually. As I re-read, I saw that she switched. I, she, her, me, and even the character’s name. They were all there.
At which point I just started to laugh. Something that started out casual and ended up sounding eerily maniacal.
But, then I stopped and thought again. Why hadn’t “I” noticed this strange variation in POV? Or, had I noticed and just … let it slide, because I really don’t care about that stuff when I’m reading stories. I think that’s the case. When I read, I am looking for something with substance. I’m glad to be meeting new people, and I’m nosy about their inner workings.
It is said that 3rd Person is ‘the fly on the wall’ or ‘the camera in the room’ and that is how I am when I read. I’m sure everyone feels this way, but their reasons for stopping by the same room are all different. I’m nosy by nature and will tolerate the occasional lag in conversation, the tonal changes in voice, or even the sudden, unexpected interruption or change of scene. I care less if what’s going on has already engaged me.
And while a lot of comments ‘about’ reading writing seem to agree that tennis-rally dialogue is their favorite, I have to disagree. And, I adore tennis. I played tennis all through high school and college. But, that’s tennis and a game, not life and adventure. I just don’t want to have to put up with return-return-return-return-return for five or eight pages. Monotony. Where are we, for cripes sake, and why are we here? Who are these people and what is the point of the exchange?
There is definitely something wrong here, but because I can’t pick up on it and deal with it, I’m left in a frustrated, maddening quandary … still.
One critic of my writing told me that I am a better orator than writer in that when I speak, I make better sense. Again, I had to hide my pain and sadness at that remark because until he said it, I had always felt that I couldn’t convey a sentence orally if my life depended on it. I never seem to make any sense when I speak. That what I am TRYING to convey gets misconstrued – often leading to hurt feelings and lost friends. When I write, though, it all seems to fall into place.
For me, at least.
So, today I’m going to post a plea for help to a critique website and ask that these discrepancies with POV be highlighted – pointed out to me – so that it makes sense. Maybe I can ask that they re-word what I’ve written so that it hopefully makes sense and THEN I can move forward.
Wish me luck.