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Friday, April 22, 2011

Can You Hear Your Characters Speaking? by Joanne Troppello

When I first started writing, I was terrible at keeping true to one character’s point of view at a time.  I was a head hopper.  Yes, I can admit that—now I feel so much better. 

All kidding aside, my lack of discipline when it came to POV totally ruined my efforts in creating a smooth flowing story.  After working with some wonderful editors, I realized my problem.  It was not easy to change my bad habits, but once I actually saw what I was doing wrong, it definitely made a difference. 

There are so many facets of writing well with regard to POV and as long as you start at the beginning, you’ll keep getting better at it.  Don’t allow discouragement to take over.  Rome wasn’t built in a day; although as my Italian husband always likes to joke, it sure fell in a day.  Back to POV…it takes time to develop good writing habits.  I can say this because I’ve been down the road to recovery when it comes to changing bad habits. 

I’m currently working on the edits for my fourth book.  I still have to remind myself that I need to get into character, just like an actor when acting out a scene.  Get into your character’s head and see what she or he is seeing.  Hear what she’s hearing.  Smell what he smells.  Touch what she touches.  Feel what he feels.  That is the only way that you’re going to get it right. 

You need to jump into the scene with your character and almost imagine that you are that character—at least for the moment, until you finish that scene and get into the head of another character.  Don’t just tell us what this character is feeling, but show the readers.  Telling won’t draw the readers fully into the story.  Showing will fully engage them and they’ll love your story.

What is the character thinking?  What’s on his or her mind?  The readers want to know that.  Here’s an example: 

          She cried out in pain and lurched forward as her foot got caught in the meandering roots of an old oak tree.  Landing on the ground, her hand smashed down on a rock and pain seared up her arm.  Great, twisted ankle and sprained wrist in the same day—pulling through the pain, she stood up and leaned on the tree for support.  She thought about Peter again.  The love of her life, he was also the man who broke her heart when he chose the agency over her.  Don’t think about him, just keep moving. 
What do we learn from this paragraph about the character?  Well, she’s obviously running somewhere and trips and gets hurt.  We get a glimpse into her thoughts when she shares about her lost love.  “Don’t think about him, just keep moving,” is a line that shows narration of the story from the character’s POV.  To write effectively, we need to get into the mind of our characters and write from their senses.

BLURB: Sophie Baird is looking for a way to escape the painful reality of her parents' deaths. Unable to live in their home any longer, she takes a job as a live-in tutor to Anastasia Shipley to remove herself from her painful memories and the feeling that God has abandoned her.

Anastasia has an illness that has prevented her from ever attending school and makes her father, Sebastian, over protective.

When Sophie first meets Sebastian, she cannot deny the intense attraction she feels toward him. When an unexpected romance begins between them, she starts to rebuild her relationship with God, with the help of a certain little girl.

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AUTHOR BIO: A romantic suspense and inspirational romance author writing contemporary romance with a classic feel, Ms. Troppello is also a freelance writer / marketing consultant, located in Pennsylvania.  She has two books published.  Shadowed Remembrances is a mystery novel and Mr. Shipley's Governess is an inspirational romance novel, published through Wild Horse Press.  She is contracted to work for several different companies, to write non-fiction, how-to articles each week.  She also works as a freelance marketing consultant for a local medical organization and manages facebook and twitter accounts for different clients.  Ms. Troppello loves to write and read and spend time with her family.

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Also from Joanne Troppello:

Shadowed Remembrances is a story about a young woman who has walked away from her past and her small town and started her life over in the city. On a visit back home, she is confronted with the hurts of her past, the rekindling of an old flame, and a murder. Torianna Silverman is a crime scene investigator, specializing in fingerprint identification. She is a NYC detective who is on vacation in a small Pennsylvania town. She encounters God in a special way and has to come face to face with her fears and find a way to move forward and solve the crime.

Joanne's Links:


  1. Thank you for letting me visit at your blog today! :-)

  2. Sounds a great read Joanne, puts me in mind of Jane Eyre - so that's got to be good.
    Love the cover!

  3. Super example of POV. Love the example and excerpt. Well done!

  4. Thanks, Grace. Glad you liked the cover. Thanks, Anne. Thank you both for stopping by!