January 2, 2013

The "all knowing" POV

Sorry, I know I haven't been a good blogger. For the most part, it's because I've always felt like I had nothing to share that all of you didn't already know. So I read, and browse through all of your posts, sometimes commenting, sometimes not. But In the 18+ months of full time writing/critiquing/reading (at least 35 hours a week of one or all), I feel like I've learned a ton of things. So, in case some of you are at the beginning of your journey, I'm going to TRY to start posting about different styles, techniques, and the no-nos. (Keep in mind these are my opinions and there are ALWAYS exceptions to each rule, so no need to tell me about the books that did exactly what I'm telling you not to do:)

Today I will talk (write) about POV.

POV is an art that has changed dramatically over the years. All through my teens I was an avid reader. But, when I reached my twenties, life took over and I rarely found (made) time to read. So when I decided I wanted to write, (because I have always been a dreamer with endless stories rattling around in my brain) I did it. I asked a friend (not a writer) to read some of my chapters (please don't do this!). She basically him-hawed for a few weeks before she "was too busy". The truth was, my writing was atrocious and she just didn't have the heart to tell me.

I researched and eventually discovered the magic of a cp!! (EVERY WRITER MUST HAVE A CP! THEY ARE ESSENTIAL! DO THIS! NOT A REQUEST--I DEMAND THAT EVERY WRITER HAVE A CP) Well my new cp, (Jade Hart) quickly pointed out my POV shifts.

"Huh, what's she talking about?" Was my reaction.

She explained, and I researched, and it turned out that writing had changed dramatically while I was away from books. All of those books that I'd adored as a child were written from the "all knowing" POV, and this was now a thing of the past.

So, what's the "all knowing" POV (point of view)?

Pick up any book that is more than ten years old and you'll see how the writer talks to the reader. They narrate the story as an outsider, seeing and knowing all of the characters' thoughts.

To me, when I read those books, it was like watching a movie, seeing all of it at once--and personally, it never bothered me.

So, I did what I should have done a long time ago, I started buying and reading "new" books. I read and devoured all of THE TWILIGHT books, then THE HUNGER GAMES. Then read MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, ASH, CINDER, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, BREADCRUMBS, THE LIGHTNING THIEF and what I learned from all of these is, by focusing more on one or two POVs, these books allowed me feel like I was the mc.

The "all knowing" POV makes me feel like an outsider, watching a movie. A book that focuses on the world through one POV allows me to connect on a deeper level with the mc. Now I'm not watching from the outside, now I'm in the book, playing the role of that one character.

Yes, in just about each of these books I still found "blips" where the writer talked to me, or bounced a bit in other heads, and once I knew how to spot it, it actually became annoying. I didn't want to be talked to, because it took me out of the story for a moment. And I didn't want to know the other character's thoughts, because it made me jump into that person's body... and by then I was attached to the mc and just wanted to stay there.

Now, obviously there will be times when 2 POVs are needed in the story, maybe because there are 2 mcs. My suggestion is, at least allow each POV to have its own chapter, so the reader doesn't get confused. And if you are going to jump POVs in a new chapter, make sure from line one the reader knows this is a new character. I hate realizing half way down a page that I'm in a different person's head and now I have to go back and reread because everything has a different meaning when it's this other person's thoughts/opinions.

So, that's it for today folks.




Johanna Garth said...

Jumping POVs midchapter is one of my biggest pet peeves and I see it a lot when people are beginning to write.

Nancy Thompson said...

I LOVE a super-close POV, preferably first person. Omniscient drives me batty. There's no intrigue if you know everything. The fun is figuring it out. And it's best when you are super vested in the MC's emotions. Can't do that from a distance.