Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Perspective on Point of View

I woke up this morning doubting the POV in my current work in progress.

I also woke up thinking I should try a combination of baking soda and vinegar on my ceramic stove top, but never mind that now.

When I conceived this novel, I knew I would write it in first person point of view (POV). All those psychological nuggets, the ease of slight of hand when you limit the perspective of the story to just one pair of eyes. While still constructing the story structure, I wrote a first chapter. Splashed some words across the page to listen if the story had voice or not.

I liked the chapter. Liked it so much I expanded it and ended up with part of chapter two. The voice sang.

Ahh. All is well.

Then, I woke up this morning, and had the following tussle with my brain:

First person. I need to change the POV.

No. I like First person. Think of the psychological insights! And besides, I LIKE first person.

It won't work. You can't tell the story correctly only from Suzanne's POV.

I can. She's got voice! Or, I can switch chapters between two first person POVs.


I've done it before.

Knock it off. I'm right and you know it.

I don't know it. I'll fight you till the end!

You really need to curb your melodrama.

I've already put months of planning into this, I can be melodramatic if I feel like it.

Poor baby. Wanna call your mommy?

No. Maybe later.

Choosing POV seems as if it should be the work of the writer, but my experience (scant as it may be) shows that its story who choses. The story itself will decide which perspective to trim, which to fade, which to highlight, and which will take the reins. An honest examination will reveal to the writer a bevy of choices and alternatives that, while subtle, can make the difference between a good novel and a great one.

The hard part for the writer is to sit with the story (unwritten or otherwise) long enough to hear how the story wants to be told. But listen you must, otherwise the writer ends up pushing story from behind, rather than allowing it to unravel naturally. Impatience is not the writer's friend, nor is it a friend to story.

My continued challenge is to sit long with this novel, hold its hand, and listen. This is strange and lonely work.

Cheers to awaking in the morning, doubting your work.

I bid you good writing.

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