Thursday, April 9, 2009

Point of View Twists! by DL Larson

Yes, I'm still judging contest entries and enjoying each one I read. The deadlines are approaching and I'm wondering if I have enough time and energy to see my way to the end. But I know how much work has gone into each WIP, so I will forge on.

Amongst all the stories, another murky problem has surfaced ~ Point of View! Or perhpas deciding on the correct POV for a plot. I won't bore you with a POV 101 class, but how about a few options to use to help decide what POV will work for your story.

The most obvious tool is to write a scene in first person, then rewrite it in third. (or viceversa) Then ask yourself: which POV describes the dramatazation best? Which moves the story forward in a timely fashion without too many sidebars or inserts of information from outside sources? And most important, which POV jump starts your creative juices and gets the words on paper quickly? That is most likely the best POV to use for that particular story.

Are you using the correct tense for your story? This involves POV to a great extent. If you want to continue with the POV you are using, would present tense or past tense work better? Rewrite a scene and decide. Which tense makes the story come alive?

Is your POV stifling your story line, bogging down how to convey the needed information? If this is true, try adding another character's POV, whether you are writing in first or third (present/past, etc.) Let another character carry some of the burden of distributing part of the plot. This will open up your script and your plot will develop new twists and turns you hadn't expected.

Perhaps you have the story where both first and third point of view will work. I say this with caution however, because I think it takes a special story and storyteller to make this an effective tool. Too many times I feel the author didn't take the time to rework the story into either first or third. The few contest entries I read that had both first and third person POV in their storyline - didn't work! I'd much rather see several POV in either tense than this hopping style. With that being said, I also have to mention one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon, wrote in first and third in her best seller, Dragonfly in Amber. She accomplished this task beautifully, but remember this is also a time travel setting and it all made sense.

In deciding which point of view to use, ask yourself a few basic questions:
- What POV will strategically tell your story?
- What POV will develop your characters best?
- What POV motivates you to write your story?

If you can answer those questions, then your point of view is established and you are ready to forge ahead!

Perhaps others have similar questions they ask themselves, and/or techniques they use in establishing POV. Tell us, please.

Til next time ~

DL Larson


L. Diane Wolfe said...

As you stated, I think 'will my POV be enough?' is critical. Often it takes more than one character's POV to properly tell the story.

L. Diane Wolfe

Deborah Talmadge said...

I find it really difficult to write in a point of view I don't enjoy reading. I suppose that makes a difference in how I approach my own style.

Deb Larson said...

I enjoy offering more than one POV, too. That technique creates conflict and tension, another good layer for a story.
Thanks for sharing.

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm a third person POV girl in fiction, but in non-fiction I'll write in first or second.

Morgan Mandel