Today I’m delighted to have fellow Sassy Sister and Entangled Indulgence author Robyn Thomas chatting about her take on Point Of View. The motto bandied around the writing world is to write in the pov of whichever character has the most at stake… today, Robyn challenges that idea!
My childhood was spent on a farm, and from a very early age I was taught to do things by watching then copying. My eyes tend to glaze over (in panic) when I’m faced with a lot of theory on how to do something practical. I want to roll my sleeves up and start DOING stuff!
My natural instinct is to store interesting snippets of craft until I have an opportunity to actually test them out. Turn them over. Walk around them and see what they look like from other angles. I’ve given up trying to avoid this step because it’s absolutely essential for me to know the parameters of what I’m working with. Only then can I include it in what I’m doing.
I find Point of View the most fascinating craft element, and I never tire of admiring it. At the moment I’m experimenting with a slingshot effect to propel readers forward from one character’s POV to the next. WHEN you change POV can make a HUGE difference to the power of your writing. I’ve found that the simple rule of thumb – stay in the POV of the character who has the most at stake – isn’t always the best one.
Sometimes there are parts of a character’s struggle that can’t be revealed to the other character until the time is right (but try to let the reader know as soon as you can!) So although this character has a huge stake in what’s going on, they’re not willing – or ready or able – to put all of their cards on the table. Their reaction will be tempered by a need for self preservation, and that has the potential to dilute your scene.
Sometimes a scene belongs to one character for a particular reason. Take a pregnancy reveal, for example. It could be done while we’re in the hero’s POV (nothing to stop the heroine telling him) but it’s likely to lack emotional impact unless you have a specific reason for doing it that way. Even if he is the one with the most at stake!
Similarly, allowing her to reveal she’s pregnant in her POV then switching straight away to your hero’s POV probably won’t give the best result either. Your heroine’s the one who is pregnant, and if your readers are invested in her then they won’t appreciate having her thoughts/reactions etc filtered through the hero’s POV. They’ll want some sort of hit from her first – such as relief, disappointment, or panic. Whatever she feels will ground your reader in her new reality before you move on.
If your heroine is expecting trouble but doesn’t get it, it could be that the real juiciness lies in what the hero thinks but doesn’t say. Allowing your heroine a few extra lines to be ecstatically happy that he’s accepted the news so well will give you leeway to springboard into his POV where it can all fall apart in an instant… giving you initial angst followed by a joyous high AND a dramatic low from the one piece of news. Emotional impact = maximum!
Not all characters are pregnant and not all pregnancy reveals are problematic, but whatever issues your characters are facing, there will always be decisions to be made regarding POV. It comes down to identifying what there is to exploit, and then using POV as one of the tools to get the most out of it. 🙂
Thanks Robyn – that was fascinating. I’m beginning to think I need to put more thought into this point of view thing!
Robyn’s debut novel will be out in July with Entangled’s Indulgence line. I’ll be sure to have Robyn back to chat about her book but until then, you can visit Robyn at her website, on Twitter and on Facebook.