Guest Post: Becoming Your POV Character by Marcy Kennedy

Guest Post: Becoming Your POV Character by Marcy Kennedy

Thank you to Writers in the Storm and to Marcy Kennedy for this article.

One of the most common writing challenges is avoiding point-of-view errors. It doesn’t seem to matter where we are along the writing path—from newbie to multi-published—point-of-view errors crop up like many-headed hydra. Just when we think we’ve got them all, there’s another head coming around to bite us from behind.

Woman Rainy Window


When we start out writing, we’re most likely to head-hop, but as we understand point of view better, head-hopping usually disappears. The point-of-view errors we start to make are sneakier, harder for us to see in our own writing.

These POV errors happen any time we’re in a limited point of view—where we’re supposed to stay inside one viewpoint character at a time—and we write something that our viewpoint character couldn’t know, wouldn’t have experienced, or wouldn’t be thinking about. (My friend Jami Gold, who shared her excellent NaNoWriMo tips here earlier this week, calls them out-of-POV phrases. That’s a great way to describe them.)

So how do we avoid them?

Woman typing on laptop

We become the point-of-view character.

That might sound simplistic, but if we actually embrace this, we won’t have point-of-view errors in our book. Let’s look at what it means if we think about our point-of-view character in terms of ourselves.

We know our own thoughts and feelings, but we don’t know anyone else’s.

I can’t know what anyone else is thinking, or even if they’re thinking about anything at all. I can’t know how someone else is feeling. They might be smiling on the outside and in agony on the inside. Or the scowl I interpret as anger toward me might simply be gas pains.

I also can’t know why someone does an action. I can’t know if they turned toward me because they heard me enter the room, because they caught a glimpse from the corner of their eye, or because they were going to turn that direction anyway.

So, if we have a female POV character, and we write something like this…

Bob grabbed the signed baseball, angry she’d moved it from the shelf.

We’ve created a POV error. She can’t know Bob is feeling angry or what the source of his anger is.

Understanding that our point-of-view character is just like us in that their perception is limited to their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations is foundational to avoiding point-of-view errors. We can only write what our point-of-view character knows. If they’re making a guess or interpreting based on the evidence they see, then we need to make it clear through internal dialogue how they’ve reached their conclusion.

woman typing writing programming

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

We can’t sense things outside of our sight, earshot, or smell range, and we can’t experience things before they happen.

Sounds obvious, right? But sometimes we forget to think about how we perceive the world around us.

I can’t see something that’s happening behind me or that’s happening when my eyes are closed. If I don’t notice something happening, I can’t tell you about it. I can’t normally see my own face.

I don’t know what my future holds, and I can’t experience something before it actually happens (including the tone of voice someone else will use when they speak).

So if our point-of-view character can’t see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it at that moment, we can’t include it. If we do, it’s a point-of-view error. I’ll give you a quick example for this one. Let’s say our viewpoint character is Andrea.

POV Error: Andrea’s face turned red.

Andrea can’t see her own face. This is from the perspective of someone looking at Andrea, but if we are Andrea, we don’t experience it this way.

What We Experience As Andrea: Heat rushed up her neck and into her cheeks.

If we’re Andrea, we experience it from the inside—what we feel.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Video of the Week #167: Cirque Du Soleil Audition


Wordless Wednesday/Flower of the Day: Yellow Lantana





Check out Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Itzhak Perlman


Itzhak Perlman was born in 1945 in Israel. He began playing on a toy violin at age three until he was old enough to play on a real violin. His family emigrated to the United States in 1958, and at age 13 he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, launching his professional career. I remember seeing that broadcast and my mother commenting on his skill and his young age at the time. This might have been that actual performance; if not, it’s from the same time period:

Perlman contracted polio at age four. When he first started performing, much was made of the poor kid with the crutches, and people speculated that his career would be short because of his disability. He proved the naysayers wrong by becoming one of the most popular violinists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, playing as a solo recitalist and symphonic soloist with a varied repertoire, performing with the finest orchestras all over the world, and also on television (such as The Late Show with David Letterman, Sesame Street, The Tonight Show, the Grammy Awards telecasts, and numerous Live From Lincoln Center Broadcasts) and in movies. He also advocates for the disabled.

One of his most famous performances was on the soundtrack of Schindler’s List, playing the gorgeous music of John Williams’ score.

In January 2009, Perlman participated in the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing with clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Gabriela Montero, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In December 2003 the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts granted Mr. Perlman a Kennedy Center Honor celebrating his distinguished achievements and contributions to the cultural and educational life of our nation. In May 2007, he performed at the State Dinner for Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, hosted by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush at the White House.

In February 2008, Itzhak Perlman was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in the recording arts. His recordings regularly appear on the best-seller charts and have earned him fifteen Grammy Awards.

Click here to view a video of Perlman conducting and playing the solo in “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Perlman performed John Williams’ Air and Simple Gifts at the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama along with Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano), and Anthony McGill (clarinet). (While the quartet did play live, the music played simultaneously over speakers and on television was a recording made earlier due to concerns that the cold weather might damage the instruments.)

The Perlman music program, founded in 1995 by Itzhak’s wife, Toby Perlman, and Suki Sandler, started as a summer camp for exceptional string musicians between the ages of 11 and 18. Over time, it expanded to a year-long program. Itzhak Perlman and other string teachers coach the students before they perform at venues such as the Sutton Place Synagogue and public schools. The program strives to have musicians who would otherwise practice alone develop a network of friends and colleagues.

Itzhak Perlman is also known for his delightful sense of humor. Here is a portion of a performance with the Boston Pops, John Williams, and Peter Schickele.

At least three documentaries have been made of Perlman’s life. Below is the trailer for the most recent one.

Did you like this article about Itzhak Perlman? Make my day: click the “Like” button, and share this article on your social media.

Do you have something to add about Itzhak Perlman? Have you seen him perform in person? (I did, a few years ago.) Share in the comments below.

Monday Morning Wisdom #172

Monday Morning Wisdom #172

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. ~Katerina (Kate) Janoskova

From the Creator’s Heart #168


John 10-27

Why Do You Write?

Why Do You Write?

When I was a young wife in the mid-1970s, Woman’s Day and Family Circle magazines often published short stories. My friend Peggy and I read them and were consistently disappointed with them. “I could write better stories than these,” I said. “Me, too,” said Peggy. But I don’t think we ever submitted any.

In the 1990s I was a stay-at-home mom with five kids. I decided to become a freelance writer because that way I could earn money while raising my own children fulltime. I was published in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, A Closer Look, The Annals of St. Anne de Beaupre, The Arizona Republic, Women’s Touch, Media Investor, and Lutheran Digest. As for earning money, my biggest grossing year I earned $600, for two worship drama scripts I sold to Concordia Publishing. I started several novels and finished a couple, though they were never sold (although one did go to “committee”).

Why Do You Write?


In 2000 I started working a string of jobs outside the home, the last as an elementary general music teacher, which I resigned from in 2014. It was after that I got serious about writing.

I’d always said when I retired I’d go back to writing. I hadn’t meant to retire in 2014, but since I applied for jobs for a year and never got hired, I rejoined the critique group I’d attended during the 90s and early 2000s and resurrected my favorite novel. I contributed to a group blog and started ARHtistic License.

I write because my brain is swimming with ideas. I have a file cabinet of drafts that I want to rewrite someday, and notebooks full of ideas for future projects. I have a poetry chapbook on the contest circuit, three novels in different stages of progress, a bible study I’m rewriting and another I’m planning, and a book of children’s poems in the works that I want to illustrate myself. I’m also committed to posting on ARHtistic License every day.


Okay, you writers out there—why do you write? Let’s face it, it’s not the easiest way to make a living. So what drives you to put the words on paper? You can share in the comments below, or if you prefer, email me through my contact page. I’d like to tabulate the responses and address them in a future post on ARHtistic License. Thank you for your input.