It’s all about me! (or you? or them?)

Yesterday at our monthly Saturday Writers meeting we got into a really interesting conversation about point of view, as in “writer’s point of view.” Jean (you know her; she was one of our bloggers until recently when life got in the way – Hi Jean!”) decided she’s going to write in a new point of view, which is what prompted the discussion. And in the process, we learned a couple of things, including the fact that I can’t say the word “Omniscient.” (You try it. Not that easy!) There are three primary Points of View (and a few twists on each of them, as well):

 

First Person – “I” point of view. Seen strictly from inside the protagonist’s head.

Third Person – “He/she” point of view. Seen from one or more characters, one at a time, and experience only what that character experiences.

Omniscient or Narrative– A narrator, who can be external or a character in the story, presents the tale to the reader. They can show us anyone’s thoughts or actions. It’s the most difficult POV to master.

 

Personally, as a reader and a writer, I’m a big fan of third person omniscient. I like being able to tell my story through the eyes of a number of characters (with appropriate scene changes and indicators to keep the reader following along nicely). I think this form has a number of benefits; it gives the narrator (me!) reliability because it’s clear I know everything. It lets the writer layer experiences and views, creating a rich landscape. And it covers more ground, because the writer doesn’t have to wait til the one-and-only viewpoint character comes across something to share the information. And make the POV universal omniscient instead of third-person – and things become tricky: I the writer can share with the reader things my characters don’t know.

 

There’s been a POV trend for the last decade of so – first person narrative. The story is told exclusively through the protagonist’s eyes. What he/she doesn’t see, neither does the reader see. What he/she doesn’t know, neither does the reader know. In some ways it’s more person… we’re living with and through the character, so we’re as closely “along for the ride” as we can be. But it’s also very limiting, in my opinion. It prevents a story from having all the layers it might have with the addition of other characters viewpoints. Often I won’t purchase a book that’s written in first POV because for me they tend to drag a bit. But I’m trying to broaden my horizons, and I just finished Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris, and I admit, I liked it. I’m also reading Lois Greiman’s Unzipped, another 1st person POV, and I’m enjoying it, too. So maybe as with all things, it’s the writer’s ability to handle the technique well.

 

So, I’m going to give in and test it for myself. Sometime this week I plan to rewrite Gemma’s opening scene in first person, and see if it improves, or doesn’t change at all, the strength of the piece. It should be an easy scene to experiment on, since it’s relatively short, somewhat active, and full of emotion.

 

I’ll let you know what I come up with.

 

In the meantime, what POV do you find yourself most easily immersed in? 1st person? 3rd? Omniscient?

 

 

 

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day!

“Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

                                                                                Fitzhugh Dodson

I have been gradually whittling away at writing a novel now since Nano in November.  I can’t say that Nano gave me anything close to a novel.  It did give me a boost of self esteem that – yes I can write that number of words.  It did give me a lot of scenes for a novel but no where near a complete novel.  During December, I was able to assimilate all that writing and see what I really had and I discovered that I have been trying to write the same novel for quite some time. Each time that I tried something new, I found myself headed in the same direction.  It felt like an epiphany.  I hadn’t really been starting over, I had been writing the same story from different starts.  Each attempt gave me a little more of the story that I wanted to tell and Nano gave me a hugh chunck.  So during December, in between the holidays and gathering with friends and family, I came up with a more cohesive story idea.  I was able to take a story that I played with earlier in the year last year and by using scenes from my Nano project, I feel like I can moosh it all together into something that looks like a book.  That has been my journey since my last post.  I have been working on the plot and characters and I have written the first two chapters.  This weekend, I’m meeting with my writer’s group and will be sharing chapter one.  I plan to keep notes on their critique but do not plan to make any changes until I complete the novel.  I know deep down within my writer’s soul that I have to complete the project before I can revise otherwise I may miss writing the story that I am meant to write. 

My goal for the year, is to complete a novel.  I do not expect perfection.  I do expect to revise and edit a lot.  I will know when the project is complete and then I will set my next goal of sending it out for publication.  It is a lofty goal and I know it will not be easy but I will continue to take small steps until I am done.  I will stay focused and not be drawn off track.  I will report in each month and hope you will be cheering me on. 

If you have completed a novel and have any advice, please feel free to comment and share.  I know that I am very interested in learning more about the process. 

Virginia