Thursday, October 7, 2010

Point, Counter Point

I collect helpful information when I'm writing, either research or just tips on writing that I know I'll need. One of those tips I wrote down was on Point Of View. I am notoriously bad about switching in the middle of a chapter. Or a paragraph. Bad, right?

First of all, I like third person. I've written two books in first person, although one (still one of my favorites) was actually a constantly shifting perspective that was more akin to third person anyway. In particular, I like third person subjective (or limited) which is the most commonly used mode of narration today. It focuses on one character's thoughts and observations to describe what is going on, and the connection the reader with for the character helps draw the reader in.

I was editing my book the other day when I realized how blatantly I kept switching from one to the other. I was striving for a third person omniscient point of view and failing. It's a hard thing to achieve without detracting from the narrative. See, omniscient is when every character's mind is open to the reader and usually, the narrator is some outer voice a bit distant from the characters and situations. You'd think this would be easy to do, but it isn't. My problem is that most of the time, I stick with one character, but I occasionally bring in someone else's mind to fill in some information the main POV character doesn't have. I can't write in that "other" voice. I have to be part of whomever is telling the story at that moment.

And that just doesn't work. in omniscient It's disruptive to the flow of the story to jump somewhere else, no matter how much I like it. There will be some character switching, no doubt about that, but it will be greatly reduced and always come after a break. Which means once again, I have to go through my book , this time in search of the dreaded POV jump, which I fear will be all to easy to find. A lot will have to go. Other things will have to be added. I'm sure the same thing will happen with my next book, and I say let it. What are second drafts for if not corrections?

1 comment:

  1. The trick to omni is to remember that the POV is that of a narrator. It's that narrator who is telling the story with the sum total of their knowledge of events. Terry Pratchett is spectacular if you really want to study great omni.


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