Diving Deep into Point of View by Jackie Layton
When I began to write cozy mysteries, I changed from writing in third person point of view to first person. There was a definite learning curve, and for a long time I only read books written in first person to help me get the feel for it.
The change to first person point of view (POV) required a mind shift on my part. I soon discovered the change takes the reader deeper into the story.
If you’ve ever considered writing in first person POV, here are a few things I learned.
Avoid thinking verbs to plunge into deep POV. Believe, decide, consider, see, forget, guess, imagine, know, notice and remember are a few examples of words that take a reader out of the story.
Instead of writing, “I believed Susan was lying.”
Try, “Susan’s gaze dropped to the floor, and she twisted the ring around her finger.”
Make the most of showing the story. Instead of telling the reader the moon is shining, show it to them. Bite the Dust is set on the fictional island of Heyward Beach, South Carolina. If your character is inland, the moonlight might filter through the Spanish moss covering the ancient oak trees.
Many times, my character is on the beach, and I adjust to the setting. “The moon beams danced on the incoming waves and sparkled like diamonds in the night.”
A writer also wants to avoid passive voice. For example:
“She twisted her ankle while running on the beach.”
To make this active, try:
“My eyes were on a seagull flying overhead. I stumbled into a hole, and pain seared up my leg. Somebody hadn’t read the signs telling visitors to fill the holes left from building sand castles, and my poor ankle was paying the price.”
When writing in deep POV, you’re writing as your character. Andi Grace Scott is the main character in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series, and I needed to learn her voice. Andi Grace is a southern girl who loves God and loves her family. She’s a caretaker. She’s a fighter who sticks up for the underdog and fights for justice. She’s a big sister which makes her kinda bossy. (I’m a big sister and can identify with this trait.)
While Andi Grace may be used to telling her siblings what to do, there’s a lot she doesn’t know. I hope this makes her more likeable in her search for a killer and in her everyday life. I hope my readers love Andi Grace as much as I do.
Do you write in first person POV? Have you ever considered it? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts or concerns.
Debra, thanks for hosting me today. I’ve enjoyed spending time with y’all.
Bite the Dust is the first book in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series.
Back Cover Copy:
Secrets can be deadly.
One steamy South Carolina morning, Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott discovers a client’s dead body. Police quickly decide she’s the prime suspect. Horrified, she knows she’ll have to turn detective if she’s going to convince them they’re barking up the wrong tree.
Proving her innocence could be a tall order. The local police never solved the hit-and-run that killed her parents; Andi Grace isn’t sure they’ll solve this crime either…not when they have a convenient suspect—one caught with the possible murder weapon in her hand. She’ll have to follow every clue and call in every favor, even if that puts her in danger.
If you love strong heroines, coastal small-town life, and dogs, you’ll love Bite the Dust.
Available on Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/161194984X?pf_rd_p=ab873d20-a0ca-439b-ac45-cd78f07a84d8&pf_rd_r=H2SYHKRSBHYE8CKWNNGA
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bite-the-dust-jackie-layton/1136317276?ean=9781611949841
Jackie Layton spent her adult life raising her sons, loving her family, and working as a pharmacist. She’s always been a reader and often dreamed of writing. Before becoming an empty nester, she began to study the craft of writing. A move to Pawleys Island, South Carolina gave her time to focus on writing while working part-time in a local pharmacy. Dawn Dowdle is her amazing agent. BelleBooks offered Jackie a contract for a three-book cozy mystery series. Bite the Dust is the first book in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series. Dog-gone Dead is the second book, and Bag of Bones is the third. All are set on the coast of South Carolina.
Ways to reach out to Jackie:
28 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Jackie Layton – Diving Deep into Point of View”
Thanks for stopping by today. Good-luck with you new book!
Thanks for having me Debra. It’s been a lot of fun.
Congratulations, Jackie, on your debut novel! Looking forward to reading your new cozy mystery. 🙂
Writing deep POV certainly takes skill and discipline. I find it’s an ongoing journey and always a learning process. I don’t write first person, but I admire those who do!
Thanks so much Cynthia. It was definitely a learning curve, but I’m glad I tried.
Appreciate you stopping by today…. You re right that it takes skill and discipline, but I’m looking forward to reading Jackie’s novel. Based upon her blog, I’m convinced she nailed it.
I loved your post, Jackie, and cannot wait to read Bite the Dust.
I am so proud of you and really admire you for tackling first person POV! I’ve never tried writing in first person, but just might give it a shot one day. 🙂
Thanks for sharing about your book and your writing with us, sweet friend.
Patti Jo, thanks for stopping by and thanks for your encouraging words!
It’s special to have a debut novel — and special to have tackled first person POV. Thanks for leaving a message today.
I can’t wait to read your book/series, Jackie! And I’d love to try writing in first person POV but I write romantic suspense and that doesn’t lend itself to it. My editor suggested I might try a thriller next so, maybe? I don’t know but I love reading books in first POV. Congrats on your debut!
Thanks so much Laurie. I look forward to reading your thriller one day.
Laurie, writing romantic suspense takes a special touch, too. It’s interesting how different types of books lend themselves to different points of view. Thank you for leaving a message today.
Great post, Jackie! Congratulations on your debut novel! I write in third person POV for my historicals and contemporary romance, but use first person for middle grade. I love the blurb for your book – looking forward to reading it!
Thanks so much, Laura! I hope you enjoy Bite the Dust!
Thanks for commenting on Jackie’s post. I can’t wait to read her new book, either.
Nice post, and congratulations on the book.
I agree that active voice generally works better than passive voice. However, the example of passive voice in this article isn’t really passive voice:
“She twisted her ankle while running on the beach.”
The rewrite was more about adding more visual detail to the scene than about changing a sentence from passive to active.
A better example of passive voice might be:
“Her ankle was twisted during her run on the beach.”
Otherwise, great tips!
Gotcha, Sharon. I’m always learning.
Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for adding to this conversation. Looking forward to reading Jackie and your new books.
The pov thing is so tricky. Most of what I read is 3rd person so it takes a little getting used to read 1st person. You’re doing a great w/it.
Love the cover!
Thanks so much, Connie. And thanks for stopping by.
What’s really exciting is when you read a book and are so engaged in the book that you don’t even notice the POV…. you just get carried away by the story.
Writing in first person is definitely a major shift change but when it’s well done (as you do, Jackie), it makes all the difference in the story. I can’t wait for Bite the Dust to release! Congratulations!
Thanks so much, Sharee!
Sharee — thanks for stopping by…. I’m with you, can’t wait for Bite the Dust to release.
Jackie, great post on POV. I’m still learning to write in deep POV. It’s an art….which I hope will just click…one of the days. Congratulations on your debut! Cheering for February 28!
Sherida, the more I do it the easier it gets. Until I slip back into old habits.
But I have learned to enjoy it. Thanks for cheering me on!
I agree it is an art to learn and as Jackie notes… stay hooked in deep POV
Jackie, thanks for sharing these great tips! I’m a cozy mystery reader and I’ve been toying with the idea of trying my hand at one.
I’m super excited to read your book!
Thanks for leaving a message today – hope Jackie’s tips help you go beyond the idea of trying to write a cozy. Please keep me posted on your progress.