Monday, March 9, 2009

Point Of View (POV)

So now you have your idea and you are perched on your favourite chair, in the best writing place in the house (not the place with the best view please, we need to write without distraction) and you are ready to begin. Do you just begin and let the words flow or do you plan?

Both ways work but for you, one will work better then the other. There is no doubt you need to plan at least a little though, if you want to write a complete manuscript that might one day be a novel of great significance.

As writers we often do research and some of us plan out our novel in loose terms while others like to plan out every scene in every chapter. I prefer the surprise that comes with not knowing exactly where the characters might lead me but I do need to know roughly where we are heading so I can make the most of it. One of the things I have never planned though, until now, is Point of View (POV). I have always just written and let the POV take care of itself, however I am now in the midst of rewriting two thirds of my current work because I did not put enough thought into POV at the beginning.

What difference does POV make? First of all we all have a preference of POV, or at least our writing style does, and yet we do not always write in that way. Sometimes the story dictates we use a different angle and we listen to that. The best way perhaps, is to write in the way that is most comfortable fir us but at least forst consider the pros and cons of POV as it pertains to your planned adventure (some of you may call it a story or manuscript but for me they are all adventures, why else would I do it?).

First POV will give the reader greater intimacy with the narrator and you will be using terms like I and we. It is my favourite style but makes you are limited to what you see, hear and think and you cannot say what other people are thinking. You can of course, write from multiple view points as long as you do it in a way that will not confuse the reader.

Second person is rarely used in fiction and in this style the narrator refers to the main character as you. It can get very personal and takes great care.

The most popular viewpoint to writer is in third person. He, she, it, and they are all terms used with third person and there are many sub categories to write in under this style. I do not want to get into a full POV lesson here (as somebody might correct me!) but I did want to make the point that we need to consider POV before we write our manuscript. We spend a huge amount of time on the writing of our works and a few extra minutes planning might turn it from a book that is one of the mix to one that stands out.

All the planning in the world will not always get you the perfect answer of course, so if things change, be prepared to be flexible and rethink your decisions and your view points, and don't be afraid to write from multiple view points.

I'd love to hear from you on this subject. My writing group embarked on a ten minute discussions re POV last week and the discussion had to be called to a halt forty minutes later. There are many questions on this one small subject and lots of opinion.

What's your favourite POV to write in and does it differ from what you like to read in? Does the tense you write in change with the POV?


No comments: