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Feb 24, 2020

Scene Setting Using Deep POV

By DJ Cracovia.

One of the toughest lessons to learn as a fiction writer is how to think like a writer. No, no, let’s rephrase that a little bit. What I meant to say is – the hardest lesson to learn, as a fiction writer is to think like our characters.

In recent years, more and more popular fictions are written in first person or third person close. Both POVs, aka Point of Views, lend themselves to deeper character-centered stories with less and less of the intrusive narrator’s voice. Today’s readers want to experience a story as it unfolds, and through the eyes of the main characters. Readers no longer want to be told a story, nor do they want to be told what to think by an omniscient storyteller.

We’re going to incorporate this idea of deep POV in the context of our characters and scene settings.

Below is a short passage where the all-knowing narrator tells the reader about the setting and what the characters are doing. Some might recognize this universal story, and even think this the passage is perfectly acceptable as is.

Massive gray clouds spanned the horizon promising torrential rains. The first strike of lightning zigzagged its way to a nearby tree and lit the branches on fire. Noah scrambled to corral the animals into safety.

Based on the reading, do you know what Noah is experiencing? Other than knowing rain is on the way, and he is scrambling to get the animals to safety, what else is going on in his mind? I have no idea either, and I wrote the passage. To illustrate my earlier point of deepening the point of view, let’s take the same scene and show the setting from Noah’s perspective.

Massive gray clouds flooded the horizon like the impending rains promised to do. There wasn’t enough time to get the thousands of species on board. Sweat slid down Noah’s neck as he waved his arms in an attempt to corral the remaining stragglers. Why in Heavens name were the Unicorns cantering across the field in the opposite direction? He didn’t have time for delays, not now when the foretold rains were upon them. He chased after a small heard, but they moved more swiftly on four legs then he could with just two.

With a tattered rag, he swiped across his brow, sucking air into his burning lungs. Damn the almighty, he was too old for this task. Overhead a thunderous boom exploded, followed by a flash of white light. The smell of singed wood made Noah pivot on his heels. A nearby oak took the lash of lighting, its branches sparking flames of orange, red, and gold. Time had run out and if he didn’t get the rest of God’s creatures aboard, they all would perish like the fiery tree.

Both examples are written in third person, but which do you think gives a richer experience for the reader? Why? What elements were included in the second example to make it a better read?

The next time you sit down to write about setting, ask yourself the following   
1.    What is my character experiencing?
2.    How is the setting affecting him/her?
3.    What mood is the character in, and how does it make him/her see the world?

If you consider the above questions each time you write, you’ll give your reader a fulfilling experience.


About the Author: DJ Cracovia
DJ Cracovia was born and raised in NYC and currently lives in a close suburb about twenty minutes outside the Big Apple. As a former corporate trainer, she loves to share her experiences, and hopes others will be inspired. If they happen to learn a thing or two, even better. Currently, the Campus Coordinator for OIRWA where anyone, no matter the genre, can enroll for writing related workshops.
She also has two philosophies to live by -
1. The day you stop learning turn off the lights and exit the building.
2. People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. *Maya Angelou*

DJ loves to connect with other writers, editors, or anyone who is a fan of the written word, so visit her blog