Learn about the different POV's and tenses

 

 

POV: Point of View (everything happening as one character sees it. EX: I saw it, she saw it, you saw it)

TENSE: past, present, or future (EX: saw, see, will see)

 

Here are examples of different ways to use POV and TENSE:

 

1st POV, PAST TENSE: “I thrashed with every part of my body that could move but too many hands held me fast. The sack around my head tightened, controlled me, angled my body as someone else grabbed my legs and lowered my boots to the floor. I bucked and coiled but arms and hands clamped me tightly. (Hint: attach “ed” at the end of verbs, and change words like “hold” to “held”.)

 

1st POV, PRESENT TENSE: “I thrash with every part of my body that could move but too many hands hold me fast. The sack around my head tightens, controlling me, angling my body as someone else grabs my legs and lowers my boots to the floor. I buck and coil but arms and hands clamp me tightly. (Hint: attach an “s” or “ing” to the end of verbs, or take off the “ed”. Also change words like “held” to “hold.)

 

1st POV, FUTURE TENSE: “I will thrash with every part of my body that will move but too many hands might hold me fast. The sack around my head could likely tighten and control me, while someone else might grab my legs and lower my boots to the floor. If that happens, I will buck and coil if arms and hands don’t clamp me tightly. (Hint: add words like “will” “could likely” “might”)

 

2nd POV, PAST TENSE: “You thrashed with every part of your body that could move but too many hands held you fast. The sack around your head tightened, controlled you, angled your body as someone else grabbed your legs and lowered your boots to the floor. You bucked and coiled but arms and hands clamped you tightly.

 

2nd POV, PRESENT TENSE: “You thrash with every part of your body that could move but too many hands hold you fast. The sack around your head tightens, controls you, angles your body as someone else grabs your legs and lowers your boots to the floor. You buck and coil but arms and hands clamp you tightly. (Ever read a “choose your own adventure” book? That is where this comes into play)

 

2nd POV, FUTURE TENSE: “You will thrash with every part of your body that can move but too many hands might hold you fast. The sack around your head could likely tighten, controlling you, angling your body so someone else might grab your legs and lower your boots to the floor. You might buck and coil but arms and hands will likely clamp you too tightly.

 

 3rd POV, PAST TENSE: “He thrashed with every part of his body that could move but too many hands held him fast. The sack around his head tightened, controlled him, angled his body as someone else grabbed his legs and lowered his boots to the floor. He bucked and coiled but arms and hands clamped him tightly. (This is most the most popular of POV and tenses used in fiction books.)

 

3rd POV, PRESENT TENSE: “He thrashes with every part of his body that could move but too many hands hold him fast. The sack around his head tightens, controls him, angles his body as someone else grabs his legs and lowers his boots to the floor. He bucks and coils but arms and hands clamp him tightly.

 

3rd POV, FUTURE TENSE: “He might thrash with every part of his body that can move but too many hands will probably hold him fast. The sack around his head will likely tighten and control him, angling his body as someone else might grab his legs and lower his boots to the floor. He might buck and coil but arms and hands will likely clamp him tightly.

 

As you can see, some POV’s and tenses are more practical than others, and some don’t work at all. Now for the rule breaking…

 

HOW TO BREAK THESE RULES:
 

1) 1st person present tense is strictly for one character, and nothing in the book happens unless that character knows it. So what if you have 2 main characters and you want to write in 1st POV present tense? A good book to look at is “These Broken Stars,” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. They have 2 main characters and the book is written 1st POV, present tense. How they did it, is every other chapter is written in the other main character’s POV, and it worked out beautiful.

 

2) Another rule breaker is “The Help” written by Tate Taylor. There are 3 main characters, and the book is written in 1st POV. The author got away with this because each character has their own special way of speaking (think of uneducated deep south black woman for one character, and college savvy white girl for another character). So when the character spoke, you could tell who it was. Plus, naming the chapter after that character so there were no confusions helped too.

 

3) In my own book, The War Queen, it is written in 3rd person, past tense. The first 50 or so pages of the book is all written in Altarn’s POV. Then I start writing some chapters in Kaelin’s POV after page 50. It’s easier to get away with multiple points of views in 3rd person, but usually a rule for that is to introduce those characters who will hold a POV in the book at the very beginning so the reader can start warming up to them. But I broke this rule for the War Queen. While all of my POV holding characters were introduced in the beginning chapters of my book, I held out on Kaelin’s POV until after page 50 (for obvious reasons). So since the reader was not expecting his POV and I didn’t want to confuse them by randomly giving him his own POV chapter, right before his chapter begins, I inserted a nice blank page that says “Part II”. This lets the reader know that something is about to change, so when they turn the page and see Kaelin’s POV chapter, they aren’t confused.

 

4) So what’s a catch-all rule breaker? Just make sure you do not confuse the reader. As long as you are clear about which character holds the POV, you are fine.

 

NOTE: Don’t mix tenses (meaning, don’t have one chapter present tense and the other chapter past tense). I read a self-published book where the author wrote some chapters in 1st person, present tense and other chapters in 3rd person, past tense. It makes for a severely choppy flow and yanks the reader out of the “reading rhythm” every time they force their brains to readjust to a new reading style, which takes a couple of pages for the adjustment to take effect. (Self-published books have a bad reputation already, and it’s because of things like this.). Readers read to relax and enjoy. If they have to work to understand what you wrote, they won’t read you. 

 

 

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