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View Full Version : Signaling, Anchoring, and Passing the Baton



Laurie2
August 5th, 2008, 12:01 AM
We've already talked about head hopping being unsignaled point of view changes that occur in an unplanned fashion taking the reader on a ride that bumps and jars and keeps them from really sinking into your story.

So, how do you change point of view in a way that doesn't bump, jar, or jostle your reader out of the story?

There are three parts to a smooth point of view transition.
The first part is to signal the reader that you are going to change point of view. The second part is to anchor the viewpoint in the receiving character. The third part is to actually pass the baton. The parts do not always occur in the same order, and sometimes parts overlap each other, but the smoothest transitions include all three parts.

To signal the reader that you are going to change viewpoint have the character who has the viewpoint look toward the character who is going to receive the viewpoint or have the character who has the viewpoint notice the receiving character do a physical action. The next part is to anchor the viewpoint in the receiving character. You do this by naming the character who is receiving the viewpoint and then having that character feel something only he or she could feel. Once you have done this the baton is successfully passed and you are in the new point of view.

Let's look at some samples from some BVS books and take apart the viewpoint switches.

From Chapter 2 of Contract Bride by Ayn Amorelli

“I know. Just take your time. There’s no need to rush.” Truth be known, her slow, unskilled movements were more erotic than anything he’d ever experienced. He felt seventeen again, wanting her so badly it hurt. But he didn’t dare voice his thoughts. She was nervous enough as it was. If she’d had any idea of how hard his penis was, she would’ve run out of there. Fortunately, she was too shy to even look where she would’ve seen evidence of his desire against the rough denim fabric of his jeans. [Viewpoint character looks toward or notices something about the character who is going to receive the viewpoint]

Although Kayla [The anchor...you've named the character] was grateful [the feeling that the character receiving viewpoint feels...completing the baton pass smoothly.] he was being so kind, his green eyes had enlarged slightly, clearly showing his sexual interest. And he hadn’t once looked at anything but her since she’d started unbuttoning her coat. That made her even more awkward, her fingers fumbling badly with the buttons.

From Chapter 2 of Contract Bride

Hiding his satisfaction at her receptiveness as he hung up
her coat in the large cedar lined closet, he watched over his
shoulder as her nipples beaded tightly. [The character who has the viewpoint looks toward or notices something about the receiving character] She was ready for him now. Just as ready as he was for her. Soon, very soon, he’d make her an offer. Mentally, he relaxed a little. He’d made his choice. Next on the agenda was getting her to accept it.

Turning to face him, [anchor with a physical action] Kayla [The Anchor, you've named the character] was more aware [the feeling or perception that only could come from the new viewpoint character...completing the handoff of the baton and the change of viewpoint.] of her body
than she’d ever been in her life. He was close enough to her she could feel his body heat which intensified his fragrant after shave.

From His Perfect Submissive --

“It sounds like you’d be getting the bad end of the stick
on this whole arrangement,” she said. He watched as she
shifted in her seat and raised her gaze, pinning him, her
expression watchful as she continued. [He turns toward her or notices something about her. Sometimes in dialogue the change of viewpoint signals are elongated.] “You’re suggesting all this because my brother stole money from you, but you’re not going to recover any of the money and in fact you’re going to spend even more money taking care of me and my mother. From a financial standpoint it doesn’t make any sense Mr. Westin.”

“Slade,” he corrected. “It makes perfect sense Kara. I have
simple needs. I’ve already told you, I want an old fashioned
marriage and an obedient and submissive wife. I want an
enthusiastic partner in my bed and someone to explore
sexually with me. Truthfully, I’m tired of being alone, and
I’m willing to turn loose of some money to get the kind of
wife and marriage I want. There isn’t anything shady or behind the scenes going on. I’ve told you what I want and
relinquishing some money to get it makes perfect sense.”

Kara [The character anchor--you've named her as the party receiving the point of view] stared at him, unseeing, her blood cold, [an emotion or physical sensation or thought only the receiving character could feel...which completes the baton pass and the switch of point of view] her sandwich forgotten in front of her. She opened her mouth to speak several times but closed it again without having uttered a single sound.

From His Perfect Submissive

She took a bite and chewed methodically, not even tasting
the turkey on rye. Swallowing helped push the hard ball of
tears down and made her feel a little more in control of her
ragged emotions. [This one breaks the rule a little...as she doesn't look at Slade or notice anything about him. That she doesn't makes the viewpoint shift just slightly less smooth than if that part had been there.]

Guilt kicked at Slade’s [The character anchor...you've named him as the receiving character] chest [The physical or emotional sensation that only the new viewpoint character could feel--which completes the baton pass and the viewpoint switch] as he watched the tangle of
emotions that chased across her pale face. She seemed lost in some deep, sad place and he ached to take back every word that had caused her pain.

From Temporally Yours

A clatter of cutlery and the slowing chatter of the other
diners sank into Patrick's consciousness, reminding him of
how public they still were. In truth he was so focused [This kind of plays the role of looking at her...it draws the reader's attention to her.] on Susan he didn't really give a shit how public they were, his need to have her clouded everything else.

Susan [The character anchor as you name her the receiver of the viewpoint] smiled and said, "I have been counting down the seconds." She beamed and reciprocated his action, [This one doesn't use the emotion that only the viewpoint character could experience...but it does clearly anchor the viewpoint with an action that Susan is taking, so it works to complete the baton pass and complete the viewpoint switch] her fingers feeling his buttocks beneath the soft material of his suit pants. She stroked the rounded contour of his bottom. She loved the feel of his tight muscular ass. She felt herself moisten, in anticipation of the fun and games that were yet to come.

Does everyone understand the signal, the anchor and the baton pass? Any questions at this point?

Mary Margaret
August 5th, 2008, 12:19 PM
I think I understand the mechanics of switching POV. Your explanation and examples are excellent. Please tell me that if I practice the mechanics enough, it will become second nature to me as I write. Right now, I feel that I have so much to keep straight, and I'm not even talking about my characters or plot. Mary Margaret (MM)

Jacqi_Montano
August 5th, 2008, 02:13 PM
Great examples and very helpful :)

Jean Kelli
August 5th, 2008, 03:45 PM
I understand this perfectly. Thanks, Laurie, this is very helpful!

Laurie2
August 5th, 2008, 06:03 PM
Hi Mary,

I don't know if practicing the mechanics of POV enough ever makes it so that POV is natural to the point that you don't have to think about it. I still have to think about it when I write.

I think that what it does do is give you knowledge with which to weigh your options when it comes to viewpoint. You do begin to see the head hops in your own work and in others as you practice the techniques. You do begin to see a scene differently when you are thinking about it. You begin to think of the task of writing the scene differently because you think about all the parts of the character's reality and you began to weave them into your work. When you go back to revise you know what to look for and it is easy to spot the missing emotional reaction or to realize that you are not deep enough in point of view because it has been several paragraphs with nothing that conveys to the reader anything of the character's emotional reality.

It does become MUCH, MUCH, MUCH easier. :-)

Laurie


I think I understand the mechanics of switching POV. Your explanation and examples are excellent. Please tell me that if I practice the mechanics enough, it will become second nature to me as I write. Right now, I feel that I have so much to keep straight, and I'm not even talking about my characters or plot. Mary Margaret (MM)

Laurie2
August 5th, 2008, 06:04 PM
Thanks Jacqi,

I'm glad the examples were helpful.

We're about to move into more of the meat of doing deep point of view.

Laurie


Great examples and very helpful :)

Cindy Maday
August 6th, 2008, 09:14 AM
I've read this over once again, and see what you mean. Can you have one of the POV characters remove them from the scene by looking the other way when switching to the POV? Then go into his POV. Problem is the thoughts and feelings of each of my characters in my mind drive the story as much as the dialogue. I like this signaling, anchoring and passing the baton. I'm going to go back and read this section again. Other writers keep telling me I'm switching POV in this section and I can't do it. If I'm a new writer will this hurt my chances of being published.

Laurie2
August 8th, 2008, 02:41 PM
Hi Cindy,

I'm not sure that I understand your question. You are asking if you can have the new point of view character remove the previous point of view character from the room by looking the other way? No...you would need to have the new point of view character see the other character leave the room.

You can pass the baton back and forth between your characters...using the signal, anchor, pass the baton method outlined here. Some authors do it a lot. Others don't do it as often. When the baton is passed back and forth using the signal, anchor, and pass the baton method described I've never rejected a piece for too many viewpoint shifts. In editing I have sometimes suggested staying in a viewpoint longer if the switch isn't imperative.

I have rejected a bunch for no point of view, for shallow point of view, and for head hopping or for not showing the hero's point of view, or for not motivating his behavior (which would be done through his point of view usually.)

I suppose it depends on where you are submitting your work whether changing point of view will hurt your chances as a new author. I guess the question to ask those who are telling you it will hurt your chances is whether the changes in point of view would hurt your chances if you were not a new author.

I don't look at work by new authors any differently than I look at work by established authors. It either works or it doesn't work. If it works I am happy...if it doesn't work then I am not as happy.

I do think that in some cases authors who are viewpoint purists do themselves a disservice...as they often sacrifice a stronger story in an effort to maintain point of view for a whole chapter because someone told them that was the "rule."

I think if you are not hearing the advice from an editor at the house you are thinking of submitting to that you need to take it as someone's opinion.

I actually like viewpoint shifts (not on every page...but maybe a couple during a chapter) so assuming that the viewpoint was deep, that it wasn't head-hopping, that the changes were appropriately signaled and anchored they would probably not hurt your chances at Black Velvet Seductions.

Laurie


I've read this over once again, and see what you mean. Can you have one of the POV characters remove them from the scene by looking the other way when switching to the POV? Then go into his POV. Problem is the thoughts and feelings of each of my characters in my mind drive the story as much as the dialogue. I like this signaling, anchoring and passing the baton. I'm going to go back and read this section again. Other writers keep telling me I'm switching POV in this section and I can't do it. If I'm a new writer will this hurt my chances of being published.

Cindy Maday
August 8th, 2008, 02:50 PM
Laurie,
Before I confuse the issue more, will we be doing excercises on this? I will show you what I mean. In my example, the characters have not left but just turned their head away as a signal, then the next hero thoughts and reactions pick up as I pass the baton. I'll wait if we will be doing this as an excercise later and show you. Thank you. I am really enjoying this class. I love reading everyone's excerpts and how you analyze them. This is great.

Cindy

rgraham666
August 10th, 2008, 08:21 AM
Thanks again, Laurie.

I'm working on my first novel, a menage romance. With three major characters there's going to be some shifting of POV. I was planning on handling it by having each chapter be in one character's POV. Perhaps I'll take a shot at switches inside chapters as well. If I feel it adds to the story. ;)

Closest I've come to switching views is in one of my vampire stories. I started and ended it from the heroine's POV, in third person. The bulk of the story was in the hero's first person POV. It worked okay. No complaints from the readers. ;)

Laurie2
August 11th, 2008, 10:26 AM
There is nothing wrong with changing viewpoints at chapter breaks...if it fits your story...and if the emotional cadence of your story is suited to staying into one point of view for that long.

What I find with authors who stay in one point of view for a whole chapter is that the emotional drive of the story might change from one character to the other, in which case to give the reader the best experience of the scene the viewpoint needs to shift with the character who has the strongest emotional stake in the scene.

What I find is that there is an almost optimal moment when that energy shifts. If you wait till a chapter break and then go back and try to cover what the hero was thinking when she told him they were finished, it is too late. The response is no longer immediate. It might have been emotionally stronger to handle the scene first from her viewpoint...showing that she really doesn't want to end things with the hero and it is killing her to do so. Her emotional energy is pretty much gone once she tells him that it's over. His reaction is then the place which has the most emotional fodder...and is where the viewpoint needs to go. In this example the tension would be pretty high, and you might be able to just end the chapter with her breaking it off and open the next one with his response. But if you couldn't do that for some reason (like you have a bigger cliff hanger in two pages and you want to end the scene there) it might be stronger to change the viewpoint to follow the emotional peaks and valleys of the story.

Remember that every rule that we follow and every rule that we break in writing should be followed or broken in order to give the reader the greatest experience of the story. Staying in a single point of view for a whole chapter because someone said that was the rule makes sense some of the time...but it doesn't make sense all the time. It depends on the experience you want the reader to have at which points in the story. EVERYTHING revolves around the reader's experience.

Laurie

Thanks again, Laurie.

I'm working on my first novel, a menage romance. With three major characters there's going to be some shifting of POV. I was planning on handling it by having each chapter be in one character's POV. Perhaps I'll take a shot at switches inside chapters as well. If I feel it adds to the story. ;)

Closest I've come to switching views is in one of my vampire stories. I started and ended it from the heroine's POV, in third person. The bulk of the story was in the hero's first person POV. It worked okay. No complaints from the readers. ;)