How do you do Point of View?

Happy Cinco de Mayo, folks. Hope those celebrating are doing so in a fun (and safe) fashion! Since tequila makes me sleepy, I’ll indulge in a virtual strawberry daiquiri instead. 😉

Several weeks ago I happened on Tips When Writing Multiple POVs at Writers Helping Writers. This very helpful article got my writer’s-side-of-the-brain’s-synapses snapping, and this post was born. Thanks to Angela Ackerman and her guest blogger, Lisa Gail Green for allowing me to quote directly.

Since I tend to be wordy (No!!! Really???  😉 ), I figured I’d challenge myself to one (or three) sentences for my thoughts on each of the areas—shown in quotations—that Lisa covered in her post:

“Understand each character’s goals, stakes, and pitfalls”: When I don’t overthink, hang in long enough and just write the danged scene(s), the nuances of that POV character’s goals, motivation(s) and conflict (GMC, from here on) begin to reveal themselves. Every round of editing helps me see more.

“Don’t redo the same scene from multiple POVs”: Every now and again there’s a call to do so—in a ‘scene and sequel’ format that SHOULD forward the plot. At ‘big’ moments involving both POV characters, I’ve ended the scene in one character’s POV, but opened up the next chapter picking up (almost) where I left off from the other’s perspective.

“Have a reason a particular chapter is in a particular point of view”: This goes back to the basics: GMC. Often, the character who has more ‘at stake’ in a given scene gets the POV honors. Try working the scene from the other POV character’s perspective if you’re not sure—about to do that with a scene of my own.

“Ground the reader as soon as each switch takes place”: I love Virginia Kantra’s technique of “zooming” the lens deep into one character’s POV, “pulling away” then honing back in deep, but in the other character’s perspective. The Wild Rose Press, who trad-pubbed my debut novel, kept it simple: Jessica thought… or something similar.

“If you’re still unsure whether you should undertake a multiple POV manuscript, try it out and see how it feels”: Trying my hand (for the first time) at four POVs in my current WIP . Wish me luck!

Do you agree with the Lisa’s tips? Is POV a challenge or just come easy for you? Which POV do you like to write in?

For more talk on the topic, here’s a great article on self-editing by Rachel E. Newman at The Book Designer.

Have a great week,

Joanna

©Joanna Aislinn, all rights reserved, 2015.

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “How do you do Point of View?

  1. “Don’t redo the same scene from multiple POVs”—I definitely agree with that. I get frustrated as a reader rereading the same scene, even if it is from a different perspective.

    My second novel is told from three POV characters. I did it that way, because there were things I needed to show that I couldn’t show from my main character’s POV. But my first novel and my current WIP are only from one POV.

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    1. Every scene should somehow advance the plot, even one that revisits previous events (or so I was taught by some very skilled story tellers 😉 ). Repetition has its place, but it needs to be for a valid reason.

      I read one Jodi Piccoult book in which she did multiple POVs (6?) all in 1st person. That’s quite an undertaking, or so says MHO. I’m thinking she did so for the similar reasons your going multiple now, Carrie. Thanks!

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      1. That would probably make me close the book. Too much like Groundhog Day (the movie; I was probably one of the few people who didn’t enjoy it). 🙂

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        1. Hmm. Not sure I would equate the two, but I didn’t care much for GHD either. Jodi handled the multiple POVs well, by my standards. I did, however, get a little tired of her formula, as I did Mary Higgins Clark too.

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  2. I’ve been playing with the idea of various POV characters, but haven’t started it yet. This is a new approach for me. The story is still cooking. Great tips. Thanks for sharing, Joanna.

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    1. You’re welcome, Tess. I’ve never written less than two POVs, which is pretty standard for romance. For some reason, I really like writing from the hero’s perspective more than the heroine’s. Go figure.

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