Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday

Be true to your point of view.

What do I mean? Let's look at the opening paragraph in the new Nikki Heat novel, penned by a ghost author writing as Richard Castle. (This is a novel that's tied to Nathan Fillion's show, Castle--which, by the way, I really enjoy!)

It was always the same for her when she arrived to meet the body. After she unbuckled her seat belt, after she pulled a stick pen from the rubber band on the sun visor, after her long fingers brushed her hip to feel the comfort of her service piece, what she always did was pause. Not long. Just the length of a slow deep breath. That's all it took for her to remember the one thing she will never forget. Another body waited. She drew the breath. And when she could feel the raw edges of the hole that had been blown in her life, Detective Nikki Heat was ready. She opened the car door and went to work.

First, let me say I think this is a great opening paragraph. My nitpick comes in just one area. "...after her long fingers brushed her hip..."

Because we're in Nikki's point of view, personal descriptors are out of place, in my opinion. If you take this and flip it into first person, would Nikki think/say "...after my long fingers brushed my hip..."? I think she'd just think/say "...after my fingers brushed my hip..." Descriptors of Nikki would come from either another character while we're in his/her point of view or, if the entire book is in her point of view, given in another way. But, having said that, do we need to know her fingers are long?

What do you think?


Colleen Love said...

I have to agree completely!

You have to be standing in that person's shoes when you are in their POV.
I don't think it would be a usual thing for a person to describe themselves in that sense. I always think you have to BE the person you are channeling the story from. That description detatches the story from the person, if that makes sense, and goes into 'telling' rather than 'showing'. At least that is my opinion. :)

But what a great opening paragaph! It gets your attention right away!

Jamie D. said...

As a reader, I never would have picked up on that. Long fingers is a very "elegant" descriptor that implies much more, and I would have just automatically used it to form an image of her (tall, slender, etc), rather than thinking it was out of place.

As a writer though, I think you're absolutely correct...and I like how you flipped it to first person to "test" the POV. It seems obvious now that you've pointed it out, but I hadn't thought of it that way before. I'll definitely use that to test my own writing from now on.

I haven't seen much of the show "Castle", but the few episodes I've caught have been pretty good. Love that actor...

Sherrill Quinn said...

Well, I read the entire first chapter and there were several instances that made me just go "aaargh!" The writing is clever, but an omniscient point of view seems to creep in and just yanks me right out of the story. :(