Monday, June 1, 2015

Who Is Talking Now? Understanding Point of View

Getting that story across to your reader can be exceptionally difficult at times. There are things you want them to know, but can't seem to find a way to get that information there effectively. In many cases, this is not due to plot issues, but simply point of view issues (POV). In other words, who is doing the talking, at that particular moment, will dictate what information we have as readers.

POV problems generally start to show up well into the book. The reason is simple. Too often, the writers have established a pattern of  shifts between the characters, and can't seem to break these. We really see this in romance writing when we want to see both the hero and heroine's POV. A common practice is to alternate between the two characters. While this is great for a sense of balance, this can create a situation when the conflict of the story starts to kick in.

Let's say it is time for the villain to raise his ugly head, and for the sake of argument, let's say the villain is out to get back at the heroine for doing something prior to the start of the book. But we also have the hero who is supposed to jump in and save the day. If, you have structured the book in such a way that the story is in the hero's head, you may have some difficulty. All of a sudden, something is happening to "his girl" but the readers are left with no context to understand.

So how do you get out of this? You have actually two choices:

OPTION 1: Add in some random filler scene that is nothing more than a plot device. In other words, let the hero "waste time" long enough to get to the heroine's POV.


OPTION 2: Have the heroine have a POV 2 times in a row.

Now, although both options have some potential, there can be a potential problem with each. In the case of #1, this random scene could really drag down the story. Readers will wonder why there is a slow down in the plot. You may also add in something that is going to now detract from the central story line.

In the case of #2, if the prior POV was extra long for the heroine, then adding in a full second POV immediately after makes a long narrative even longer. But, this is probably the better of the two choices. Simply shorten the prior shift and let that villain do his worst.

The heroine can now see it coming and provide the back story the readers need to have, before the hero jumps through the door and kicks the "you know what" out of the villain.

I will say, the key to this is plotting. Yes, I brought up that ugly word for you pantsters out there, but it is true. Planning and thinking ahead is going to save you a lot of hassle with your point of view shifts.

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