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Friday, 4 January 2008

Playing with POV

This morning I started reading a book by a well-known author and by the end of the first chapter was frustrated by his use of point-of-view. I kept going back to read paragraphs over again as the author seemed to change POV mid-paragraph several times. I have read and studied the rules of POV often but I had never noticed how disruptive it is to the reader until I picked up this book.

I finally pulled out the novel I'm writing so I can start working on Tristi's BIAM challenge. Because I haven't looked at it since November, I had to back track a little and re-read a chapter or two. This project has caused me to really examine POV. When I started this book during Tristi's first challenge last fall, I wrote it in third person. Every sentence was a struggle and I soon grew frustrated with my lack of progress. After several thousand words, I stopped and did some brainstorming. The story idea still seemed good, but it just wasn't working. Putting aside every word I had already written, I started from scratch for NaNo and changed the point-of-view entirely. Now the book is written in first person and the story is flowing easily. Several people have told me how difficult it is to write or read a story in first person, but that is what seems to be working right now.

It is an interesting exercise to take a story and re-write it using different POVs. I find it fascinating how the emphasis of the story changes depending on which character is telling it. This is a skill I'm still learning and experimenting with. I think my book is better now that I have gone to first person, but until I give it to my readers, I won't know for sure. That's the great thing about being a writer...playing with the words until they tell exactly the story I want to tell.

7 comments:

Dan and Wendy said...

When I first started trying to write, I knew nothing about POV, and my writing showed it...I still have a lot to learn about how to best use it, but you're right, I'm now more cognizant of it as I read other's writings and as I write myself.

Dan

Don said...

Every time I rewrite, my POV changes - third to first, then back to third.

For this draft, I'm sticking it out with the third person POV, although when I compose in my head, it's often in the first person. So I may switch again for the next draft.

I've found there are advantages and disadvantages to using either POV for this story, and I'm curious to see what I end up with in the end.

Traci Hunter Abramson said...

The most important thing is that if it's working, stick to it! I think many authors experiment with different POVs until they find the one that fits them. Good luck working with your work in progress!

Linda Adams said...

Experimenting is key! With today's technology, you don't have the headache of re-typing entire MS just to play with POV. You can save the old file and toy with a new one - so there's not even risk involved. If you don't like it, you still have the earlier draft.

Was the author Frank Herbert, by any chance? Huh? Huh? I've been trying to read one of his this week and the POV shifts are making me crazy - among other things I've been trained to recognize as "flaws." I posted more on my author blog.

Ajoy said...

Exciting that you have found something that is really working out for you. :)

I've been keeping mine in the first person so far- but have struggled with itsomw what. Then I switched and tried third too- but have had some hard times with that. For now- first person is working better...though it could change later!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Hey, if 1st person works for you, use it! I used it for my first book because it worked for the story I wanted to tell. My others are third person. I think people who have a hard time reading 1st are people who don't have enough imagination. :)

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.

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