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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Writer's Insomnia and Multiple Points of View

I've got it. It's not really a painful thing. If you're a writer, you know what I'm talking about. Five hundred ideas dancing half-formed through your head, anxiously waiting to be born. And your fingers itch to tell the story. And you lay awake in your bed, tired, but formulating chapters, scenes, dialogues.

I stayed up until 1am b/c I had to finish chapter 8 of Branca. This book is about to be put on hold for several years, probably, and the ideas I have for it must be put down before then. And of course I already have the revisions for Walk Beside Me spinning around in my mind. I'm ignoring the sequel for the moment.

I've been thinking a lot about Multiple Points of View, or MPOV. I've always been in favor of this, but thought that the general public found it distracting. I spent a lot of time taking out the POVs in Walk Beside Me. I am thrilled that WiDo asked me to put more in.

Here's a fantastic quote I found on MPOV from a fellow author:

"Writing in multiple points of view has many advantages. It allows an author to piece together a complex story without requiring a single character to know and see everything. It makes it possible to give more information to your reader than you’ve given to your main character, which in turn makes it possible to rachet up the tension and the sense that your beloved protagonist is in danger. And finally, as my comments about omniscient voice imply, it helps with character development, by putting your reader inside the thoughts and emotions of several characters." http://magicalwords.net/david-b-coe/point-of-view-single-vs.-multiple/

Boy, that just says it all! I want to make the tension more for my reader. They are privy to information that my main character is not. He mentions the benefits of a single POV as well, and I agree. I was quite pleased w/ the 'mystery' and 'closeness' that developed between the reader and Jaci when it was entirely her POV. There won't be quite as much mystery, and for many of my readers who were annoyed that they didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world, that will be a good thing. I will work hard to maintain that closeness! I want my readers to feel like they know Jaci!

Another website said this: "In novels the point-of-view can easily be changed at a chapter break, and 2 or 3 clearly distinguished time-lines or story-lines are juggled." http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~tpl/texts/multipovs.html

Ive had some issues w/ the juggling in the past. The problem w/ both books was that I started them in omniscient POV, not realizing it is a kiss of death. So while I'm about to add more POVs to Walk Beside Me, I'm trying to eliminate some in Branca and make the ones I have appear at predictable times. Particularly when we are switching back and forth between dimensions, it's important that the reader not spend too much time away from one dimension, and thus lose all interest in what's going on there.

3 comments:

David J. West said...

Could you explain a little more on why you think Omniescient POV is the kiss of death, I just want the hear your take on that.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Actually, I had no idea that it was until I joined a writer's forum. As you saw, both of my books were written in omniscient POV and I took great offense when they told me that was an 'archaic' style.

Well...it only took a little bit of researching agents and publishers before I believed them.

There are authors that do it--and do it very successfully! But it seems most publishers don't want to give a newbie the chance on it. So, I went through and changed my POV to third person limited. Turns out I am not one of those authors that can do omniscient successfully. My book is much much better now!

It's not that it's a kiss of death to the book. It's that it's a kiss of death to the would-be author. Most agents/publishers won't even read the book. Most readers don't even know the difference.

I don't really have a take on it...I just follow the crowd. :)

Jordan McCollum said...

Hey Tamara,

(Remember me? I'm Elisa's friend and I have a little boy who's like a day younger than Jacen and DH and I sat with you and Mark at Elisa's wedding luncheon? Anyway...)

I'm actually doing a blog series on deep POV this month.

Deep POV is the trend these days. It's not that omniscient is bad—sometimes it can even be useful, even in our deep-POV-centric world—but just like Tamara said, it seems archaic. And like she said, it's still used ALL THE TIME, though usually by prominent authors who can get away with "head hopping," as those of us who can't get away with it call it.

Congrats on your contract, Tamara!

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