The Secret Link between Telling and POV

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I've got a secret to share with you. But unlike most secrets, I want you to tell everyone you know. Ready? Here it is: Telling and POV are interlinked. If you're truly in deep POV, you won't tell us your story, you'll be showing it to us through your characters thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Here's some tricks to help you figure it out:

1. The following phrases are often used in "Telling"
He felt ________
He knew ________
He wanted ______

2. Repetitive use of a Subject, verb, Direct Object pattern.
-Tina was skinny.

3. Not using deep POV (duh!)

4. Narrator intrusion (narrator (that's you) interjects statements and/or ideas that would not be the main characters).

5. Information dump-you unload a lot of backstory or irrelevant information.

Writing tip: Writing the character's actions before they speak eliminates the need for a dialogue tag.

Q4U: What other things tip you off to telling or not being deep enough in your POV?


  1. Chris said...:

    Good advice! The sentence beginnings were very helpful.

  1. This is excellent! I've found that "to be" verbs are often telling. Nonspecific adjectives. Too much dialogue (I guess that can be infodumping), and weak verbs (moved, walked, jumped), can also show a lot of telling instead of showing.

  1. Dave said...:

    Good thoughts, especially the advice on putting in an action first.

  1. Chris: Glad you found it helpful.

    Glamis: Also good tips. Thanks!

    Dave: Just make sure it doesn't get formulaic. :)

  1. Dave said...:

    Good point on making sure that it does not get formulaic. Sometimes I like to read George R.R. Martin and just look at how he constructs paragraphs. The next time I do that I will take another look at different ways that he adds in a dash of action, along with the other elements that go into his paragraphs. Do you read him? I'd be interested in knowing some of the fantasy and/or YA authors that you like.

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