Monday, July 21, 2014

Choosing Point of View

If you read my book reviews, you'll have noticed that I begin my "Narrative" section by describing the point of view of the book, and whose perspective we see it from. This detail of writing is probably one of my most important (as far as the technical aspects of it go) because it influences the voice of the words; it can pull a reader in or shut them out.

Guess which one you want to do?

Kisa Whipkey, the Editorial Director at Reuts, wrote an excellent post on her blog that outlines the different kinds of POV; read it here. Since she's already done an excellent run-down of it all, I'll save my own descriptions and get to the real meat of what I'm going to talk about: how to narrow down which POV is the best one for your novel.

You know the basics: the main POVs that're used in fiction include first ("I") and third ("he/she"), and third can be broken down to omniscient (the reader knows everything) and limited (the reader knows only what a limited number of characters know). The lesser-used POV is that of second person ("you").

As the author, you get to decide how you tell your story. The problem that many people can run into when they begin a new WIP is that they don't know which option would be the best way to tell their story.

Sometimes, it comes to you right away. I have the tendency to narrate a few ideas in a my head when I'm beginning, to try out different voices using my own imagination before getting words down on a page. So, sometimes, I know right away which is the best; it's whichever POV comes with the idea.

Then there's those ideas where I can imagine both third and first person. My main character might have such a strong voice that it just makes sense to attempt first person; at the same time, my strength comes with third person. Going back and forth like that, I will honestly start pulling my hair out, and I know of a few friends who occasionally have the same problem.

The question: Which POV should you write your idea in?

The solution: Write them all.

Take a scene from your idea, and write it in every POV you can think of, or every option you're playing with, at least. Then read them all and figure out which one suits it.

The thing is, there is no right way to write your book. There's no POV that's going to be a sure-shot to sell your book. The popular POV is that of first person, but there are many books that're told from third person that are (in my opinion) absolutely fantastic (check out Not a Drop to Drink, by Mindy McGinnis, and Cinder, by Marissa Meyer).

Figure out which POV is the most natural, and run with it. Heck, play with it all you want. The most important job is to figure out the best way to tell your story, and if that means writing five different versions of the same scene, then so be it. Ask yourself whose perspective the story is being told from, then figure out if the reader needs to be directly in their head or if there should be a little bit of distance.

Another great way to study these POVs: read. I already pointed out two good YA books told in third person, and there's a whole slew of books told in first. Pick up one or two or each, read them, and pay special attention to the things the authors can and can't do with each type.

The best you can do is follow your gut. Once you figure out which POV is the right one for your book, it tends to stick with you. Find it, write it. Go forth and create a novel.

Tweet It:

Which POV should you tell your story in? Blogger @Rae_Slater has a simple way to figure it out (Click to Tweet)

Follow your gut and find your voice. @Rae_Slater explains how to decide on a POV to write your novel (Click to Tweet)


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