Sunday, March 04, 2012

Reflection: Point of View

In March, I always do a series of reflections about the writerly life. This month I'm going to reflect the whole month on one of the most elusive elements of story to me and that is point of view (POV).

POV is the "head" the story is told from. First person POV is told from "I". It's intimate. The next one is Second Person POV; this is told from "you". It's the "leading the reader around by the nose" POV and in fiction almost no reader wants this, so use it very sparingly if at all. Non-fiction readers like to led around by the nose, so knock yourself out, nonfiction writer. Third person is the "he, she, and they" point of view. This one comes in multiple flavors and I will get back to its complexities later on in the month. It's the most versatile POV. Epistolary POV is another POV floating around out there. This one is a hard sell because the POV is written in letter form -- "Dear John, I'm freaked out...". It's certainly related to first person POV and since I have written in this POV I am going reflect on it too as the month rolls out.

POV has been something I've struggled with. It's embarrassing how many submissions I've sent out to have a note come back to me -- "will you try this in first person" or "first person isn't working for me". It took me a long time to figure out what was going wrong with my writing in terms of POV. This problem rested in my lack of confidence. I mean it. POV is the heart of the suspension of disbelief and if you have any of this in you: "I'm not sure anyone will love this book, I'm not sure I love this book, I'm just not sure this story will stand out in the crowd, etc." You are in real trouble. Doubt will kill your POV. You must have seas of confidence within you to pull off your POV, whatever the choice.

So what can you do? First put in your 10,000 hours of practice -- the recommended amount to truly become an expert at something. Second, really know what your character wants and who they are. Third, I learned this in kindergarten btw, be yourself. No one ever comes out and says this but it's true, no two writers approach POV the same way. You will do something unique with POV that no other writer has ever brought to the page before. Doesn't that just put a warm glow in your heart? You must reveal your story your way, and after you've practiced and practiced, you will stretch your POV wings and bring to full life the characters that dwell so richly in your soul. It makes me cry because now I really want to read your book.

Come back next week for more POV reflections.

Here is this week's doodle: "Sheep Doodle"

Here is the quote for the week:

There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


Faith Pray said...
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Faith Pray said...

I spent years on my epistolary POV novel. The thing about epistolary books: it's difficult to maintain suspense. At least, that's the feedback I got. I revisited that novel, scrapped the letter POV, threw out most of the old story bones, renamed it. And now I'm happy with it. And yet... those 10,000 hours, they were like my writer dues, weren't they?

MollyMom103 said...

Hi, Faith, an epistolary POV creates extreme challenges, but it I wholly believe it is possible to it pull off.

Yes, your 10,000 hours of practice serves as your foundation to create expert writine ability. You could call that your "dues". Why not?

Mirka Breen said...

When it comes to POV I find Beta Readers and critique-group partners to be most valuable. They can detect a ‘slipping out’ I managed not to in many revisions. I don’t feel other readers can help with voice (at all) but POV was made for this exchange.

MollyMom103 said...

Cool, Mirka. Readers and critiquers can help you see POV issues. Totally helpful point. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!