"What a clumsy man!" Stephanie thought. She yanked her dress out from under his feet. George kept moving ignoring the woman's glare. His mission was too important.
What is wrong with this passage? If your answer was a switch in the point of view, then you are correct! Point of view, or POV, is extremely important when writing a coherent, well-constructed literary piece. POV is the glue that holds the story together. It helps the reader enter the world the author created by placing them directly into the character's soul. They get to escape into the character's foreign world and experience it as though they are that character. (Of course this leads into another related topic of showing instead of telling; but, that is a topic for another date.) So think about it, would you want to be ripped from one character and tossed into the soul of another? No thank you! It is not pleasant and extremely unfair to the reader.
The worst part is your story can be ruined by this switch. You have just lost your reader, received a terrible review, and had your story tossed. Yikes! And that reader is going to tell their friends and family about the awful story they just read. (Never underestimate the power of a "word-of-mouth" conversation.)
The great thing is POV mistakes can be caught in the revision stage. How? Simply delete those scenes or, if they are vital, change them so the character experiences it. Take a note of the following example:
George pushed his way through the crowd. "I need to get past all of these people," he whispered to himself. As he shifted and stammered, he tripped over the lengthy dress of his colleague. The young woman shot him an icy glare before she yanked her dress out from under his feet. George avoided her eyes and trudged on. He had to complete his mission. The fate of the world rested on his success.
The original scene had the reader jump from George's POV to Stephanie's POV and then back to George. The revised scene follows only George's POV. Stephanie's POV was changed to show her actions versus her personal thoughts. This is one simple solution that address the problem.
If your story requires multiple POVs, please separate them with chapter changes or section breaks. A great example is Dean Koontz' book, Dragon Tears. He does an amazing job switching between the main character's POV and the villain's POV.
I hope you have learned the importance of point of view. Please feel free to add, share, and discuss this in the comments below.
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