#SaystheEditor Don’t Tell Me What She Sees

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Author: Susan Helene Gottfried

Strangely, I’ve been seeing this one a lot lately, mostly from some of my younger writers.

She saw him enter the room.

Umm… Okay…

I get it. You’re worried about point of view, because I am a stickler for POV. (Okay, I point it out and it’s up to my clients to change it. I’m an editor, not a drill sergeant and not a dictator.) So you want to make sure it all comes through the screen of your POV character.

BUT.

You’re telling me what she saw. You’re not showing it.

He entered the room with a flourish, jazz hands flapping until they froze into place. One leg extended, toe inside the bulky hiking boot as pointed as it could get and ever-so-gently touching the tile floor.

It’s still the narrator’s sensibility. You haven’t broken POV at all. In fact, you’re sharing a deeper POV with us, by letting us see him in action. The details the narrator and/or POV character choose to show wind up revealing things to the reader. Maybe a different POV character or narrator would tell us about the guy’s hair. Or clothes. Or his sparkling eyes. Or. Or. Or.

So take a minute and go back through your Work in Progress. Are you telling me what the character says? What he knows?

He knew the sun would be hot in the morning. versus The sun would be hot in the morning; it always was at the end of July.

Try and get away from those telling statements. Show. Take a few minutes and play with your descriptions. Show me the colors, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel. Maybe (read: definitely!) not all at once, but reach for those sharp, pointed, telling details that paint a picture.

Your reader will thank you.

So will I.

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