Thursday, May 19, 2011

Deep POV Tips from Author Jules Bennett

Harlequin Desire author Jules Bennett gave an awesome workshop about deep point of view (POV) for those of us who attended the Cleveland Rocks Romance Conference this past weekend.  Jules gave me permission to post her helpful pointers about writing deep POV and ramping up the emotional stakes in your own work:

  • Before you begin writing, imagine yourself in your scene.  Specifically ask yourself, what am I seeing?  What am I smelling?  Take a virtual look around and experience the scene through your senses.

  • Strive to put an emotional up-and-down in each scene.  Just as a scene has a beginning, middle, and an end, so it must also have emotional ups and downs.

  • Who’s head to write in?  We’ve all heard that we should write the scene from the POV of the character with the most to lose.  If you’re having trouble deciding that, jot down a paragraph or two in the heroine’s POV and another paragraph or two in the hero’s, then decide which is most effective.

  • To get deep into the minds of your characters, do a quick, five-minute journal entry pretending you are that character.  The question you are answering is:  how would you feel if this happened in your life?     Jules said don’t get carried away with it, do it quickly and briefly and get back to writing.

  • Setting often makes a big difference in how the characters act and feel.  It needs to come alive, as well as the characters.  Jules shared a tip that everyone loved—when she researches different places, she often calls realty agents in the area to ask details like, what are the popular attractions, how do people dress, what are the nightclubs like?   Having set a book in Miami, Jules was very honored when her editor, who had family living in Miami, said she wrote as if she had lived there herself (despite the fact that she had never been there).

  • You can use your own mood to help your writing.  Once she has her rough draft down, Jules hops around when revising depending on her mood.  So she tries to channel her current mood, good or bad, into her writing. 

  • Openings need to be packed with a punch, so work hard on them.  A tip from Leanne Banks:  before you start a new manuscript, really quickly, list 20 things you want to happen in your book.   This is a creative way to explore and focus on what you really want to write about.
  • When asked about her process, Jules says she begins with one scene in her head and then keeps asking what if? over and over.

Jules was a very dynamic speaker—comfortable in front of the crowd and also very friendly—and she looked just as sparkly as her website!  Her latest book Her Innocence, His Conquest, is a new Harlequin Desire release for April. Read more about Jules at

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