Write Better Fiction: Point of View Goal and Plot

Today on Write Better Fiction we’ll cover How the Point of View Scene Goal Relates to Overall Plot. Write Better Fiction is a process to help you critique your own manuscript and give yourself feedback. This will help you improve your novel, so you’re ready to submit it to an editor. Check the bottom of this post for links to previous Write Better Fiction articles.

The column in the spreadsheet has long title, and if you can think of a better one let me know.

This is column where I analyze both the internal and external goal of the point of view character.

Each scene has a point of view character. This character must have a goal for the scene. If there is no goal, then what is the character doing?

Let’s deal with the external goal first. This is the goal the reader is aware of.

Finding a murderer is Kalin’s main goal throughout DESCENT. She also has goals within each scene where she holds the point of view. In the opening scene her external goal is to go skiing. Her internal goal is to be good at her job.

The reader is shown Kalin wants to go skiing. She doesn’t achieve this goal because a skier falls and is terribly hurt. She has to put her own wants aside and deal with the situation. This is the start of Kalin’s journey of searching for a murderer. At the time she doesn’t know she is witness to a crime, she’s only thinking of taking care of the skier. The external goal of skiing places her on the hill at the time the skier falls.

Kalin’s internal goal is to be good at her job. In the opening scene, she doesn’t know yet this will involve chasing a murderer.

For each scene, think about how the POV character’s goal is related to the plot of the novel. If you don’t know the answer, perhaps the scene isn’t relevant to the story, or perhaps another character should have the POV for that scene.

Your scene may just need some updating. Can you strengthen the character’s goal? Is there a way to add a goal to the scene so it relates to the novel’s plot?

You can also use this column to check for consistency. Let’s say your character is a tea drinker, and you put the character’s scene goal as finding a cup of coffee. That should trigger you’ve made a mistake.

When you’ve finished the spreadsheet for each scene, you should be able to scan this column and find any entries that are weak.

Your challenge this week is to check the previous column for internal and external character goal and determine if that goal relates to the overall plot.

I critiqued DESCENT and BLAZE using the techniques I’m sharing in Write Better Fiction, and I believe this helped me sign with a publisher.

Descent & Blaze

Please me know in the comments below if you found this exercise challenging. Did it help you write a tighter scene?

Thanks for reading…



Keeping Point Of View Consistent

I’ve always thought Point of View (POV) should remain consistent. Maybe not for a whole novel or even for a chapter, but at least within a scene.

I’m reading a mystery novel that changes the POV within a scene. It’s a novel published the traditional way through a well-known publishing company. I find the POV change within a scene distracting and think it takes away from an otherwise good story.

Are the standards changing?

Anyone else have a view on this?

Thanks for reading . . .


Starting A Novel Scene

This week I’ve been thinking about starting points. On Monday, I blogged about when to begin your novel. But what about a scene?

Once you’ve decided when to start your scene, as in before the action, in the middle of the action, or after then action, what about how to start your scene?

There are different ways to do this. These include with:

  • Action
  • Dialogue
  • Thought
  • Narrative

To choose which one, I think about what I want to accomplish with the scene, what happened in the previous scene, and what’s going to happen in the next scene.

For example, if the previous scene was high on action, I might want to start the current scene with narrative, perhaps describing where the POV character is. This slows the story and gives the reader a break.

When a first draft is complete, the next step is to check whether the scenes begin in different ways. If all the scenes start with dialogue, the novel might be tedious to read.

As usual, I keep track of scene starts with a column in a spreadsheet. This allows me to quickly glance and check that I haven’t been monotonous.

What’s your method for deciding how to start a scene?

Switching POVs

#writetip. I find reading novels with multiple POVs entertaining and enjoyable. So what’s the trick to writing multiple POVs. As usual, this is only my opinion, so here’s what I think.

If you’re going to have multiple POVs in your novel, it’s important to let your reader know this early on in the story.

I could be jarring for a reader to get half way through a novel, and the POV is ripped from underneath their feet and a new character steps in.

Changing POVs in the first few chapters will warn the reader this is your style and hopefully they’ll enjoy your book more. They’ll expect different characters to have their say, to drive the novel, and to provide surprises. They won’t get so attached to one POV that they can’t bear the change and toss the novel aside.