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View Full Version : Moving On -- Deep Point of View in Dialogue



Laurie2
August 14th, 2008, 01:07 PM
I'm sorry I have been a bit quiet and am a bit behind going through the revised exercise 1's. A couple of days ago my middle niece decided that she would like to stay with me and my husband to attend high school here in Indiana. We have been jumping through all the hoops to make that happen (kind of after the fact really...as school has already started in our district). It's been an experience...but I think we are about settled now and I will be catching up on the revised exercises over the next few days. In the meantime though I am going to post the next lesson...which is on deep point of view and dialogue.

Dialogue is one of the key places that deep point of view often flounders (even among those authors who practice deep point of view everywhere else.)

If you find after a passage of dialogue that you don't know whose viewpoint you are in there is a strong likelihood that your viewpoint is shallow in dialogue passages.

Here’s how to incorporate deep point of view in dialogue.

First of all, remember that deep point of view is about showing the character’s experience.
Remember that character experience has four aspects, even in dialogue.
Remember too that even in dialogue someone is experiencing the dialogue, this someone is your viewpoint character.
The same rules that apply to writing deep point of view in narrative also apply to writing it in dialogue.

Remember…

Integrate all the parts of the character’s reality. This includes predominantly their mental, physical, and emotional realities but can also include their spiritual reality in some works.
Use small snippets to integrate all the parts of the character’s reality.
Carry the reader smoothly through the scene.
Consider the following dialogue…then I’ll mark it up….

The original:

“I told you yesterday that your brother’s case was a matter
for the police. So far I haven’t heard anything that has changed my mind about that,” he said.

Her expression tightened, and she bowed her head. “I know
you said you weren’t interested in taking payments but— Is
there any chance you might change your mind about it?”

He felt a jolt of sympathy. She was sweet and innocent. He
knew it hadn’t been her that had inflated expenses and
pocketed the difference. It bothered him to see her cowed in shame.

“It will take me a few weeks but I can get advances from
my credit cards and borrow against my 401k. I can give you
fifteen thousand as a down payment on what my brother stole and pay the rest in payments.”

“Kara,” he sighed, wanting to punch her brother’s lights
out for bringing shame on her. “My problem with taking
payments isn’t the money itself. I could afford to forgive the money entirely and it wouldn’t change my standard of living even a little bit.”

“If it’s not the money then why not take the payments and
move on?”

“It is not the damned money; I won’t get the money back
by going to the police, at least not for a long time.” His voice came out harsher than he intended and laced with the
frustration he felt toward her brother. Ted was talented, and up until the accounting department had brought the
questionable numbers to his attention he had planned to
promote him.

“What did Ted do with the money?” he asked his voice
softening. “Any chance he still has any of it?“

Kara shook her head and dipped her chin. There’s that
shame again, he thought. “He got caught up in gambling again. He’s had problems before and I should have known he was in trouble when he had money, but I didn’t.” She shrugged, her voice small and filled with guilt. “Things were really tight financially and I was just glad he was finally getting things together and was able to help out a little.”

The Mark Up:
There was dialogue previous to here which would have anchored the viewpoint. I’m not including it because I don’t want the post to be so long that it gets cut off. The first two paragraphs basically just set the scene. Kara has gone to see her brother’s boss Slade Westin to plead on her brother’s behalf.

“I told you yesterday that your brother’s case was a matter
for the police. So far I haven’t heard anything that has changed my mind about that,” he said. [speaking in and of itself is kind of physical and anchors the physical aspect]
Her expression tightened, and she bowed her head. [Notice that he is EXPERIENCING her reaction. It is not just he said then she said. He says, then he observes her reaction.] “I know you said you weren’t interested in taking payments but— Is there any chance you might change your mind about it?”

He felt a jolt of sympathy. [you have his emotional reality here with the jolt of sympathy.] She was sweet and innocent. He knew it hadn’t been her that had inflated expenses and pocketed the difference. [You have his mental reality here…he knew it wasn’t her] It bothered him to see her cowed in shame. [his emotional reality again...it bothered him]
“It will take me a few weeks but I can get advances from
my credit cards and borrow against my 401k. I can give you
fifteen thousand as a down payment on what my brother stole and pay the rest in payments.”

“Kara,” he sighed, wanting to punch her brother’s lights
out [his emotional reality again] for bringing shame on her. “My problem with taking payments isn’t the money itself. I could afford to forgive the money entirely and it wouldn’t change my standard of living even a little bit.”

“If it’s not the money then why not take the payments and
move on?”

“It is not the damned money; I won’t get the money back
by going to the police, at least not for a long time.” His voice came out harsher than he intended and laced with the
frustration he felt toward her brother. [his emotional reality again – also a bit of his physical reality with his voice] Ted was talented, and up until the accounting department had brought the questionable numbers to his attention he had planned to promote him. [his mental reality]

“What did Ted do with the money?” he asked his voice
softening. “Any chance he still has any of it? “
Kara shook her head and dipped her chin. There’s that
shame again, he thought. [his mental reality…he’s thinking] [Notice he is experiencing the exchange. He is noticing things about her body language and her tone of voice] “He got caught up in gambling again. He’s had problems before and I should have known he was in trouble when he had money, but I didn’t.” She shrugged, her voice small and filled with guilt. “Things were really tight financially and I was just glad he was finally getting things together and was able to help out a little.”

[The important thing to notice is that there are the words that the characters say…but there is also the viewpoint character’s reactions to what is said and the way that they are said. There are very few he said, she saids. They aren’t needed because the scene is experienced by the viewpoint character and the reader is carried through the scene by
his experience of it.]

Any questions about deep point of view in dialogue or anything else we’ve covered or not covered?