Well, it’s Friday. The day my segment shows on the 700 Club—and the day I die. That’s right, it’s dentist day. I report at 8 a.m., Pacific time. Already doped up on some pill I’m supposed to take at 7:00. I am so sensitive to that kind of stuff, the dentist gave me a “baby pill” to take. Then, at his office, I’ll get hit with more stuff. “Doc,” I told him when I saw him Monday, “I wannna be totally out, understand? I wanna be in a coma.”
“No coma.” He gave me apologetic look. “But you’ll be way out of it. You won’t remember much of it later.”
“I don’t care whether I remember it later! I don’t wanna know when I’m living it!”
He soothed me. Told me I’ll be fine. Said a man who’s scared to death of dentists had a similar procedure done, and when it was all over, commented, “It was pleasant.”
I bugged my eyes. “Pleasant? Doc, you are a great guy and all, but you will never hear me say anything like that about what you do. The most you can expect from me—if you put me in a coma—is, ‘hey, it wasn’t quite so bad.’”
He held up a hand. “If I heard that from you, I’d be . . .” he searched for the words. “Thrilled beyond measure.”
So that’s what we’re going for today, folks. Y’all pray that the Doc is thrilled, okay?
Also today is the 700 Club thingy. That show is on a lot of channels, a lot of different times during the day. I plan to watch it here at 6 p.m., thinking by then my dopiness will be worn off enough for me to distinguish between the TV and the microwave.
Now, besides the events of this auspicious day, we were discussing third person POV. Some comments to you commenters. Cara—don’t take me too seriously when I mention your profession. I’m one of those people who loves lawyer jokes. Stuart—waytago, man. Very cool excerpt. I felt sorry for the guy. Dragon. Creature. It. Whatever.
Bonnie—some comments to perhaps clear your confusion. A paragraph break often means the author is switching from one person talking to another, or from a person talking to the thoughts of the POV character. This is the case in that Eyes of Elisha excerpt you mentioned. You also asked this: I now understand that one scene should be one person's point of view, so is it mostly the editor's point of view on whether you've accomplished this (since there's close third person and removed third)?
The author sets the tone for the work. The author should do all he/she can to stay in one POV per scene, and not to switch too much from one kind of third person POV to the other, i.e., from the close to the removed, as the removed may then sound contrived, or out of place, or too “telling.” But the editor is there, with his/her fresh eyes, to help make sure this happens. By the time we poor authors finish a book, we’ve looked at the words so many times, we can’t see them anymore. A fresh read can see all sorts of things we’ve overlooked.
We still need to take a look at the third kind of third person POV—Omniscient. Here’s a thought to leave you with. True omniscient is not the same as “head hopping.” The problem with head hopping, at least as I see it, is that it flits from one character to another, boring into the brain of each with close third person POV, then flitting on. The result is that the reader never quite knows where to settle. True omniscient is a camera in the corner of the room, watching all, telling all. But it remains removed. It has that distant, more formal tone. This is the POV of the classics, and one that’s generally now fallen out of favor.
By the way, I think omniscient POV isn’t popular today because of the intimacy and pacing our culture has created through TV, movies, video games, etc. We’re used to close-ups of the camera. We’re also used to skipping from one quick scene to another.
Therefore, when aspiring authors point to the classics, or even fiction published a decade ago, and say, “They used that POV, so I want to also,” they’re not really thinking of writing in that classic, formal tone of omniscient. They’re thinking they want to be allowed to head-hop.
In other words, they’re comparing apples and oranges.
Do you agree?
More on Monday—if I survive.