DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
Connect with DiAnn here: www.diannmills.com
Creating Emotional Distance
Varying degrees of point of view (POV) allows the writer to establish emotional distance between the reader and the character. The distance is set in direct relationship to the role the character plays in the story, the mood, and voice.
The POV character takes the spotlight and has the most to lose or the highest stakes. Every word in the scene and subsequent internal reaction is filtered through the character’s sensory perception and life experiences.
The mood of the scene is the writer’s GPS. Adjusting the emotional distance creates a level of emotional tension that parallels the mode of the story.
The distance the writer chooses for the character to internalize what previously occurred varies per:
1. The action prompting the character’s reaction.
2. The traits assigned to the character guiding how the character views life in a range of introversion to extroversion.
3. The character’s fears and past wounds.
4. The character’s goal or problem to solve.
5. The character’s knowledge of the incident.
6. The ability of the character to honestly process information.
Some scenes require a close emotional distance, such as a character’s revelation or facing a hard truth. Other scenes may have more impact with greater distances such as a character who doesn’t have all the information. An unstable character, especially one who is insensitive, evil or selfish, can set the stage for a gripping scene.
Everything is told from the narrator’s viewpoint of “I.” The advantage is intimacy. It’s easy to believe what the character says, thinks, does, and experiences—like a friend telling you about an event or reading someone else’s diary. Multiple first-person POVs with varying degrees of emotional distance are powerful stories.
The following are examples of first person from distant to close. Note how each sentence brings the character closer to the reader.
I saw more trucks than cars in the heavy traffic.
Julie’s BMW emerged from the heavy traffic like a silver bullet, and I held my breath until she exited safely.
I followed the young woman dressed in jeans through the mall.I followed the young woman dressed in jeans and red stilettos through the mall and labeled her as my next victim.
Multiple first-person is becoming more prevalent.
In third-person, the writer uses “he,” “she,” or the character’s name.
Third-person is the most prevalent among writers. Multiple third-person POVs gives the writer a variety of perspectives from which to show the story.
The following are examples of third person from distant to close. Again, note how each sentence brings the character closer to the reader.
He saw heavy traffic from his office window.
He saw more trucks than cars in the heavy traffic.
Julie’s BMW emerged from the heavy traffic like a silver bullet, and he held his breath until she exited safely.
Jean agreed to go to the baseball game.
Jean agreed to go to the baseball game although the opposing team was favored.
Jean feared the home team might lose again since the opposing team’s pitcher had pitched three straight shutouts.
Look at your own story. Do you see where varying the emotional distance can add dimension to your story?
DiAnn is giving away a copy of her book, BURDEN OF PROOF, eBook or print. (Print copies in U.S. only, please!) Leave a comment, along with your contact information for your chance to win!
BURDEN OF PROOF
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.