Different Kinds of POV Slips and How to Avoid Them

Photo credit: Sonnar3 on Flickr
One of my most common critiques when editing samples or full manuscripts revolves around POV slips. POV slips are incredibly common, in large part because there's a variety of them and because, well, when you're the author who knows everything it's easy to forget your POV character isn't privy to everything you know.

POV slips,  however, can be incredibly jarring and are a glaring, guaranteed way to remind the reader they're reading a book—in the sense that the writing draws attention to itself and distracts from the story, which is the opposite of what you want.

So what are the different kinds of POV slips? Let's take a look at some:

  • The switch. This happens when the POV outright changes to another character's perspective without a scene break. While not technically a mistake in omniscient POV, in just about any other POV (first person, third limited, etc.) this is absolutely a mistake, and a confusing one at that. While it's fine to write a story from multiple perspectives (although you want to make sure you have a vital reason for doing so), you definitely want to make sure to break up the POVs. Jumping back and forth between two or more characters in a single scene without breaking them up is a surefire way to give your readers whiplash.

  • POV character knows something they shouldn't. This has a lot of varieties too, and happens most often in third person. Your POV character shouldn't know what other characters are thinking (unless they're telepathic), feeling (unless they're empathic), secretly planning, smelling, seeing, etc without the other characters telling them. So, for example, if Arya is the POV character: 
Arya laughed. Helena thought it was the most beautiful laugh she'd ever heard. 
That doesn't work because Arya can't know what Helena is thinking.  
  • POV character sees themself (without a reflection). This happens most often with blushing, but there are other similar slip ups. Basically, while a character can experience what it feels like to blush, they can't physically see their face reddening without a reflection. Which is why I tend to go with "My face warmed" rather than "My face turned red." 

There are other varieties, but the common thread of POV slips is your perspective slips outside of the limitations of the perspective. There's a reason first and third person limited are limited perspectives—it means the readers can only know what the perspective characters know. They can only experience the world of the book through the eyes of the perspective characters. And even if you're writing a book with multiple perspective characters, you have to stick with one at a time within each scene and consider what that particular perspective characters knows and experiences at that particular time. 

It can be a challenging thing for sure, but hey, no one said writing a book was easy. And in the end, the challenge can force you to think in different ways, which is never a bad thing. 

Have you made any of these mistakes?

Twitter-sized bite:
What are different kinds of POV slips and why should you avoid them? @Ava_Jae breaks down this common writing error. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: On Writing Marginalized Characters

What should you know about writing marginalized characters? Today I'm talking about some of the important things to remember.


What do you think?

Twitter-sized bite:
Thinking about writing marginalized characters but don't know where to start? @Ava_Jae breaks down important things to keep in mind. (Click to tweet)

Writing Plans for 2018

Photo credit: aescoba on Flickr
So it's 2018! Now that I've done a semester of grad school I have—shall we say—a more realistic understanding of what I can accomplish while juggling grad school, part time work, and freelance work, which is to say, not a whole lot. But! I still have writing goals for the year, and given that I'll be starting a writing mentorship in the fall for school, I think grad school may even help me along.

With all of that said, here are my writing plans for 2018:

  1. Revise & turn in The Rising Gold. This one I'm actually nearly done with. I have the MS out with sensitivity readers and a CP one last time before I revise it again and then send it off to my agent and editor. After that of course will be more edits from my editor, but I'm actually nearing that stage where it's not just in my hands which is...wow. This is the year I finish my first published trilogy.

  2. Revise my #ownvoices af YA Thriller. I've been working on this book for well over a year now, and I'm actually going to try to dive back into it this weekend to give it one major revision before I send it to CPs, revise it again, and then send it to my agent and also sensitivity readers. Ideally, I'd like to get this on sub this year so fingers crossed.

  3. Draft one new book. I have two very real possibilities with lots of potential and I want to do both eventually. I'm not sure which I'll prioritize this year, but I imagine one of them will be the book I draft this year. I'll be delighted whichever one it ends up being.

So those are my plans! I think they're all manageable, especially with said aforementioned mentorship meaning I kind of have to draft something new this year ha ha. But you know, two birds, one stone, and I'm pretty psyched to see where this year goes both in my professional and personal life. I think it's gonna be a good one. 

What are your writing plans for 2018?

Twitter-sized bite:
What are your writing plans for 2018? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Things to Remember While Writing Description

How do you come up with description? How much is too much? Today I'm talking about an all-too important element of writing a story: description. 


How do you tackle writing description?

Twitter-sized bite:
Struggling to get description right in your WIP? @Ava_Jae shares some description-writing tips. (Click to tweet)

End of Year Countdown: 5 Top Fives of 2017

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Somehow, it's time for the last post of 2017! Wow. Strange to think 2018 is basically here—and what a whirlwind of a year it's been.

But of course, last post of 2017 means it's time to continue Writability's annual tradition of sharing my five top fives. So here we go!

Top 5 Most Popular Posts (on Writability) of the Year

Like last year, I used Google Analytics to find the most popular posts of 2017. Interestingly, while some of them overlapped with last year, many of them didn't.

  1. Why Use Past Tense?
  2. Why Use Present Tense?
  3. Young Adult vs. New Adult: What's the Difference?
  4. Writing Tip: Describe with Telling Details—Setting
  5. How to Write a Great Twitter Pitch

Top 5 Favorite (Writerly) Tumblr Blogs of the Year

Tumblr is awesome and there's lots of great bookish stuff there. Here are many of the writerly/readerly blogs I reblog the most from.

Top 5 Favorite Books of the Year

Top 5 Favorite Twitter Accounts

  • @Celeste_pewter for her accurate, patient, and incredibly useful political knowledge and down-to-earth advice. 
  • @Bibliogato for their perfect blend of writerly and political tweets. 
  • @ericsmithrocks for his seriously adorable corgi and baby pictures mixed with hilariously relatable writerly and readerly tweets. 
  • @veschwab for her incredibly open and sobering writerly tweets. 
  • @RileyJayDennis for her consistently great information on trans issues. 

Top 5 Favorite Movies of the Year

What? Top five movies? Yes, this is a new category, but I like movies and this year had some truly great ones. So without further ado, make sure you catch these if you haven't already.

  • Wonder Woman
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
  • Logan

So those are my top fives of 2017—do you have any favorites of the year you'd like to share?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Twitter-sized bites:
Writer @Ava_Jae shares their top fives of 2017—what are some of your favorite writing resources of the year? (Click to tweet)

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (For Writers)

A fun yearly holiday (re-)post tradition, with apologies to Clement C. Moore, written by yours truly.

Photo credit: John-Morgan on Flickr
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the night
Not a writer was writing, not word was in sight.
Blank pages were scattered on desks and on floors,
In hopes that the manuscripts would leap from their drawers.

The radio was humming a song of good cheer,
Yet I, tortured writer, wished a muse would appear.
And I with my coffee and family asleep
Did stare at the page trying hard not to weep.

When out in the snow there came such a noise,
I fell from my chair, disregarding all poise.
I ran to the door, my heart in my throat,
And did throw it open, forgetting my coat.

And Christmas lights glowing on glittering snow
Seemed just for a moment to put on a show.
When to my astonishment—I’ll admit I did shout,
Came a sleigh from the sky led by reindeers on route.

A driver with eyes spilling over with laughter,
His face I did know I’d remember thereafter.
With a beard so white and his cheeks set aglow,
He waved and he smiled, “It’s me, don’t you know!”

I gaped for a moment and stuttered and said,
“This cannot be real—it’s all in my head!”
But Santa, he snickered and said with delight,
“I hear, my dear child, that you love to write.”

“It’s true,” I said, looking down at my feet,
“But a writer I’m not—I’ve admitted defeat.”
And Santa, he frowned—looked me straight in the eye,
And he said, “You’re a writer, don’t let your dream die.”

So I told him my troubles, how the words wouldn’t come,
And he said, “It’s a gift—it won’t always be fun.
It won’t always be easy or simple or kind,
But for writing, my child, is what you were designed.”

And he lifted my chin with his finger and said,
“These troubles you’re having—they’re all in your head!
So go back inside and rest for the night,
But know that tomorrow, you’ll write at first light!”

He climbed back on his sleigh and took off in the air,
The reindeers—they trampled the stars with their flair.
So inside I went and turned off the TV,
And sat by the fire with a hot cup of tea.
Asleep, there I fell, and I dreamt of the page
And when I awoke—my mind a golden age!
I rushed to my computer and typed until dawn,
His words, I soon realized—they were right all along!

In hindsight I suppose, I shouldn’t have been surprised,
For that day it was Christmas, true and undisguised.
And that man that I saw, whether he was Santa or not,
He brought to my mind things that I had forgot.

A writer’s a writer every day of the week,
On good days, on bad days, on nights that seem bleak.
But I do what I can and what I can is to write,
As Santa reminded me to my delight.

So next time your writing refuses to flow,
Remember what Santa said to me and know,
You’re a writer tonight and always will be,
For writing is truly what makes you feel free.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Twitter-sized bites:
Author @Ava_Jae shares a special version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" for writers. Enjoy! (Click to tweet)

Vlog: My 2018 Resolutions

It's that time of year again! Today I'm talking my 2018 resolutions. What are your resolutions for the new year?


What are your 2018 resolutions?

Twitter-sized bite:
The end of 2017 is here and @Ava_Jae shares their 2018 resolutions. What are you resolving to do next year? (Click to tweet)
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