Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Are The Rules To The Game?

This issue (or a slight twist of it) came up recently on another website that I like to hang out on. The writer was asking the question of what the right approach was when it came to the troublesome Point of View. In this case, the writer was trying desperatly to follow a rule she had been told, but in the end, realized the scene was in the wrong POV. She had done it from the heroine's POV and it really needed to be in the hero's. Needless to say, she was VERY troubled.

So, with that said, what are the rules?

The simple truth is there really isn't any rule. The goal is to tell a dang fine story and to make it work. In her case, I told her that if the ratio of POV shifts was 75/25 and it worked, then do it. And really, the rule works for all of those other wonderful "rules" that writers like to preach in sessions at writing conferences or on their blogs.

Now, please don't get me wrong. I am not saying this is a time for a complete free-for-all writing fest where writers do anything. Remember the goal is to tell a story that makes sense, is marketable and draws the reader in.

I had a conference with my son's fifth grade teacher today and she was describing the perfect type of story. She wanted her kids to find that story that when they were finished with it, they were upset it ended. That is the rule you shoot for when it comes to writing. Write a story that works just like that and you have a best seller. Hook me from the first line and keep me hooked until the end.



  1. Interesting. Thanks for the post.

    This is a great way to look at it: "She wanted her kids to find that story that when they were finished with it, they were upset it ended."

    Great goal to strive for while writing!

  2. Question: I wrote a story with the heroine in first person, and the hero in third. I might add I only used the hero's third person scenes where I thought it was critical to the story. I've seen this in mainstream novels and tried it out in this book.

    But, to be honest, I've not seen this first/third person switch in the women's contemporaries I've read. Will this be an acceptance stumbling block in the women's fiction/contemporary genres?

  3. BW-IL...

    I really don't think there is a problem with this if the story flows properly. Sometimes, shifting like this becomes a bit awkward for the reader to keep track of things. We get our minds going one way and the shift can be a bit jarring.

    Like you, I have seen writers use this but IMHO, I have always felt it not that effective.