Kill Your Darlings, Part III: Point of View and Debasing Your Language

Understanding Writer Lingo

I’m back from the Superstars Writing Seminar. It was fanatic. I learned a lot about the craft and business from authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, Jonathan Maberry, and Eric Flint and editors and publishers such as Mark Leslie Lefebvre. I’ll be sending out information regarding this in about three weeks for my first newsletter.

Now, on to debasing language and point of view (POV).

One of the many gardens in London where perspective and point of view reveal detail

Near the start of my MFA, I used diction that had no place being there. Part of this was because of the literature I teach and have read in the past. Mary Shelley and Charles Dickens certainly used diction that would not appeal to a broad audience today nor have any clear place in the literature of Postmodernism or Post Postmodernism.

Being aware of diction is key to maintaining the reader’s trust in the author or maintaining the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

This is tied to point of view.

The standard references for points of view are First-person, Second-person, and Third-person. Then, of course, there’s omniscient and other versions of those three. However, David Jauss uses terms and definitions I prefer. You may read his article on the Association of Writers & Writing Programs website or buy his book, which includes many useful essays I highly recommend.

Here’s a break-down of his terms using what I learned from Kali VanBaale when she was my professor during my MFA (Incidentally, she has a new novel coming out in June 2020.):

  • Direct Interior Monologue (DIM): If the sentence is unmediated (i.e., the narrator doesn’t say “he thought”), in first person, and reads like a verbatim thought, it’s DIM
  • Indirect Interior Monologue: If the sentence is in third person and would read like a verbatim thought if you changed the person and/or tense, it’s IIM
  • Close Omniscient: If the sentence is in third person and reflects a character’s diction and/or syntax but it doesn’t read like a verbatim thought if you change the person and/or tense, it’s close OM
  • Distant Omniscient: If the sentence is in third person and reports the character’s thoughts without reflecting the character’s diction and/or syntax (i.e., if the language is the narrator’s, not the character’s), it is distant OM.”

All my writing so far has been Indirect Interior Monologue (IIM). I use third-person pronouns, but the diction I use is what my character would use, and I don’t use tags such as “he thought” or “she thought.”

I’ve found that IIM helps me connect my characters with the reader without being so directly personal with first-person pronouns. I’ll get into why I don’t use first-person in a later post, but that’s a long, philosophical thing.

For now, I’ll settle with establishing POV. My next post will go further into how debasing diction relevant to your chosen POV establishes author credibility and creates a believable narrative where the reader trusts the author.

Author: Chuck Lang

Chuck Lang is a writer of science fiction and horror. Influenced by his years as a carpenter, four years serving in the US Navy, and his fifteen years teaching literature, he holds an MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Lindenwood University. After completing his first manuscript, the supernatural horror novel DEAD GODS, in 2019, he has begun work on its two sequels, DEAD GODS: INHERITANCE and DEAD GODS: RESOLUTION. He is currently developing two additional projects, an urban fantasy horror novel and a military science fiction novel. He lives and writes near the frequently flooded Red River in Fargo, ND with his wife and two redhead sons.

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