How To Write With Immediacy In Fiction by Lisa Hall-Wilson - Canada
We’re continuing in our FAQ series on Deep POV. The question that came in was: How do you write with immediacy?
There are a few foundational rules with deep point of view and writing with immediacy and removing distance are two of them. If you don’t write with immediacy you add perceived distance between the reader and the story, which is exactly what deep pov tries to eliminate. As I considered this question, I realized that I haven’t written much about this here or in my book, so let’s break this down.
Simply put, immediacy is writing as though everything in the story is happening right now.
Is Past Or Present Tense More Immediate?
Some writers get hung up on writing in past or present tense when asked about immediacy. Are you writing He is… or He was…? With deep point of view, there isn’t a right or wrong answer here. You can write in deep pov with immediacy equally well in past or present tense.
Is First Or Third Person Better?
Again – wrong question. I see many blogs out there saying first person is more intimate than third person, but I disagree. Written equally well, a reader can immerse themselves just as well in a first or third person story. Some readers will have a preference, many writers have a preference, one or the other is more popular in some genres.
I would like to clarify that writing in first person doesn’t automatically make your writing deep point of view (or more immediate). I’ve written about first or third person here. This is a distraction in the discussion about writing with immediacy or deep point of view.
What Is Writing With Immediacy?
Writing with immediacy is capturing the story as the character moves through a scene. Think of it like strapping a GoPro to your point of view character (POVC).
If story is a car, omniscient POV puts the reader in the back seat away from the action. A limited POV puts the reader in the shotgun seat beside the driver. Deep point of view puts the reader in the POVC’s lap in the driver’s seat. They see/hear/know/learn/feel everything the POVC does, but that’s ALL they know. The entire story is filtered through the POVC as though they are living the story in real time. It’s a first-person shooter style of storytelling.
Avoid The Narrator Voice
The narrator voice slips in particularly if you’re more familiar with the omniscient point of view style (or, I’ve found this happens among writers who, as readers, detest feeling tension when reading themselves). This is a stylistic choice that makes sure the reader knows everything is OK before the conflict really heats up. I can’t give you a template or a list of words to do a search for. It all depends on the effect the phrase creates.
Some examples might be:
Later, he would realize this had all been a dream. (and then the dream sequence begins)If only she’d known how Brad would react, she’d have kept her mouth shut. (and then she says the thing she later regrets saying)
This idea of hindsight or looking back before the event comes off as author intrusion in deep point of view and it adds distance. Now, this doesn’t mean your character can’t second guess themselves, but it’s expressed after they’ve done something. It can also work in a self-fulfilling prophecy sense. This is a bad idea or I’m going to regret this… and then they step into the hard thing as an act of courage or whatever. That’s different than this all-knowing narrator slipping into the story foretelling the future.
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