One of the most common issues I encounter in editing fiction is maintaining a consistent point of view. It is tempting for authors to want to include readers in every interesting thought and perspective that is happening with each character.
The author may want the reader to know the angst that is gripping Julie while at the same time feeling the fury of Julie’s boss. The problem is, although authors have an image in their head and carry the emotions that all the characters feel, authors cannot magically transmit every detail of the scene into their readers’ minds. Instead, the author must use words to communicate ideas, feelings, and actions. Readers then have to receive those words, interpret them, and form their own image.
This is a process.
And unfortunately, processes take time. If authors try to take their readers inside the head of every character, they will never leave enough time for this process to mature. Readers will not form any deep connections with the characters, and this will ultimately lose any grip the story had on them.
It’s one thing for readers to know that Jane is grieving, that Bob is angry, or that Sally is confused, but a completely different thing for readers to be overcome with Jane’s grief, to burn with Bob’s rage, or to experience the anxiousness of Sally’s confusion. If you successfully connect with your reader’s emotions, when they put the book down, they will carry that emotion with them. This experience is what makes a reader say, “I couldn’t put it down!”
In much the same way, point of view affects the way we experience life. You may turn on the news in the morning and see the world as a sensational and tragic place to exist. At work, you may perceive the world as a task driven arena where success depends upon whether your lazy co-workers decide to “show-up” that day, and blame depends on who happens to be where at the wrong time. Evenings might consist of television shows where the norm is broken families, jokes at others’ expense, rebellion glorified, and scandal glamorized. Perhaps you will wrap up your day with a chapter from the Bible or a favorite devotional book to help keep your life on the track you know you should be taking. And you might even end your night with another desperate prayer for forgiveness and a begging cry for help.
Trying to see your life clearly while wading through so much chaos can leave a person drained, confused, and powerless. It is no wonder that so many people wonder if there even is a God. This kind of living is similar to the experience of reading a book full of head-hopping. Just like being told Sally is confused doesn’t make you feel confused, being told God loves you and has a plan for your life doesn’t make you feel God’s love or destiny.
So what is the solution?
Choose one point of view.
Through whose eyes will your story be told? The more time you spend with God, the more you get away from your traditions and into the truth of His Word, the more you will experience life through His point of view. Soon you will be seeing every moment of your life through His eyes.
What does that look like? What does God see when He sees you? Forgiven. Beloved. Holy. Possessing His inheritance. Full of power. Righteous. Accepted. Bold. Courageous. Fearless. This is your life through His eyes. Is it hard to believe? Is it hard to feel? Then let me suggest you let go of the head hopping. Eliminate those views that conflict with His, and spend your time in His head. Receive of His free gifts through grace, and then share what you see with the world.