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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Point Of View Problems

Telling your story in a certain point of view can make or break it. In fact, that's what broke my first book. I had six key characters that each felt equally important to me. I told the story from all points of view. Can you imagine how confusing that was? I was switching back and forth on every page and I never really got the reader inside any one character's heads with good monologue. Can an author tell a story from multiple points of view? Sure, Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson all pull it off beautifully in the Dune series. For any of you who have ever tried to read Dune and had to put it down, point of view is probably why. While it can be done that doesn't mean you should do it. Once I realized I was no Frank Herbert I knew I had to change the way my first novel was written.

The question you have to ask yourself is, whose story is it? Among your characters, who is the most important to you? Upon asking this of myself I realized the answer was obvious. Problem was, it was still two characters. That I can deal with though. With only two main characters it's easy to switch points of view from one chapter to the next. Just remember not to do it within the chapter or you could lose the reader and jumble the story.

Now that I've had this epiphany I'm really excited about pulling that manuscript out and giving it an overhaul this year. Two bad it isn't written on my calendar's to do list until August! But that's okay. In the meantime it's percolating in my mind and becoming something richer and deeper with each passing day.

Here's a great link from Writer's Digest titled 21 Tips to get out of the slush pile (in which they talk about point of view):  http://tinyurl.com/ylnaus3

6 comments:

  1. Heather, this is great! Maybe we've all been there. My first page, of my first draft had three points of view! But it made sense to me. Thanks for your wonderful tips!

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  2. That's true. The critiquer that read my first book said multiple points of view is a common mistake first time writers make. If I had known that from the beginning it really would have shortened the amount of times I've had to rewrite that! LOL! We learn as we go, which is why our books get better and better. ;)

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  3. So I think maybe your brain actually belongs in my twin sister's body and she got a random brain somehow in the making process.

    The fist three books I wrote (out a five book series, still working slowly on the rest) followed six friends. The series is epic fantasy and I felt I 'had' to show the reader each character and their way of thinking. It was, epically horrid. By halfway through the third book, I realized that I needed to stick with only the two real main characters and that I could (and should) allude to other characters' feelings WITHOUT actually giving the reader the pov of those characters. I've since gone back and rewritten the first book and I intend to do the same to the others. I still believe in the series, but even if it never sees daylight beyond the walls of my own home, it was still a huge learning experience!

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  4. Great advice! I am writing a book with different points of view, mostly between the two main characters. It can get confusing, so I may have to re-write some things. This was a very helpful blog!

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  5. Wow, that is wierd A.Gray! Sounds like we're in exactly the same boat with our epic fantasy series! You're right, whether or not they see the light of day (I have faith they will!) the learning process was well worth it. :)

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  6. I'm glad this post helped you Charlie! My good deed is accomplished :) You can pull it off! Good luck with the edits.

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