Point of view is a huge area of discussion for fiction writers. It’s a complicated topic, one that goes beyond who is telling the story. Within each kind of narrative—first person, second person, third person, and omniscient—there are different rules to be followed. Then when you decide whose point of view you’re going to write from, there are additional rules to apply.
One of the things to keep in mind is a character’s self-awareness. What I mean by that is, how much would a person realistically see and observe about herself? The most obvious problem that writers encounter is how to describe a character physically when the story is being told by that character. Many writers employ the old character-looking-in-the-mirror trick, which can work if you can find a clever way of doing it.
But unless a character IS looking in a mirror, there are certain physical observations that she simply wouldn’t/couldn’t make about herself. And I just read the perfect example.
I’m reading a novel by a New York Times bestselling author. In one scene, the main character (female), who is narrating the story, is talking to a love interest (male) and says, “I could barely contain the blush that colored my cheeks.”
What’s wrong with that sentence? I’ll tell you.
How does she know that her cheeks colored? One could argue that she knew that whenever she’s around this guy, she blushes. Or that she felt her cheeks flush. But that’s not what she said. She described how her cheeks changed color, which she could not possibly have known unless she was looking in a mirror.
How the author could have gotten around that was to simply reword it: “I felt my cheeks flush,” or “My cheeks became hot.” Or even “I’ve been told that whenever I’m around him, my cheeks look like beets.” Maybe those don’t sound as good as the original, but you should never sacrifice “correctness” for “prettiness.”
I doubt very much that the author in question would give a flying squirrel’s butt about what I’m saying because, hey, she’s a NYT bestselling author and I’m not. But, most likely, she’s not going to read this blog, anyway. I don’t care about her, but I do care about YOU.
So, there you go.