Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's All About Your Point of View

Choosing a Point of View style for a book has never been a problem for me. Which character will tell the story, and what perspective they tell it from, always comes naturally as soon as I sit down to write. I've never really even had to think about it.

Wait, that's not true. When I was eight, I wrote a story that kept switching back and forth between third and first person. I crossed out "she" and replaced it with "I" and then "I" to replace it with "she" so many times, the entire manuscript became illegible. However, at the time I was just learning about Point of View and had to explore my options. Ever since then, it's been natural.

Until now.

(That seems so dramatic, putting "until now" as one paragraph. I feel like I need music to play: "DUN! DUN! DUN!" And then someone gets eaten by a bear or something. Anyway, moving on.)

When I started writing Magicland, I didn't think POV was going to be any more of a problem than it usually is. Jak Day is obviously my main character, and the book felt right in third person limited. The first chapter came smoothly in this style, no problems. So, too, came the second and third chapters. But the third chapter ends with Jak being thrown in prison. Where he stays for quite awhile. While exciting stuff happens elsewhere. Hmm... problem.

Not to worry! Maurelle was more than happy to step up to the task. She's Jak's sister, and comfortably became my second voice. Of course, there is the problem that the first three chapters happen from Jak's point of view, without transferring over to Maurelle's. I didn't want to be inconsistent, but I really don't have much for Maurelle before she goes running off to save her brother. I have enough for Jak while he is in prison that I can now alternate chapters between the two characters, but what about the beginning? Eh, I'll worry about that in edits. I had two solid voices for this story, and things seemed to be moving smoothly.

But this is when I realized that Clara no longer seemed relevant. See, my book takes place mostly in Fairyland, with a bunch of characters who know Fairyland's history and culture. Jak and Maurelle grew up there, so nothing is going to surprise them. This is a large part of why Clara went along for the ride. She played the part of Doctor's Companion -- the one who knows nothing about traveling through time and space and thusly gives us an excuse to explain things. This is the relatable character for the audience and keeps them from becoming too confused.

But, when magic starts happening (remember, from Jak's point of view) and gnomes show up and all sorts of drama, there really isn't a chance for Clara to ask any questions. It's kind of silly to ask, "Why are those people so short and blue?" when said people are shooting fire blasts at you. And then Clara is knocked unconscious. And then we go to Maurelle's point of view, meet a witch, travel through a magic portal, and start off through the swamp. If I haven't made it clear what's going on by this point, then my readers are just going to be confused, and Clara isn't around to help by asking obvious questions. Oh, and then she wakes up in her dungeon cell, and she doesn't even ask any questions -- apparently Clara is capable of just taking things in stride. Which makes her completely useless to me. Well, except that she's (probably) Jak's love interest. But I hate characters who exist only to be the love interest.

So, anyway, now Clara is on probation -- she has to prove that she's a relevant and useful character, or she's being cut from the book (she's awesome enough that she'll probably stay but I have to make her work for it.) What would really help, though, is if I could write some scenes from her point of view... it would give us a chance to see things through a human's eyes, get the love story from both sides, and get to know Clara better. But I already have two narrators, and this book isn't an epic.

Or is it?

While all this drama with Clara was going on, I went over to Charahub and started getting to know Hereward (the human member of The Council, remember.) And he's so awesome! He's involved in all sorts of political things, and he has secret plots, and he's ridiculously wonderful. And my heroes may never really come into contact with him. It would be really nice... if... I could tell part of the story from his point of view.


Oh, and it gets better. I've started getting to know my villain, Donella Rhoswen, and she's all sorts of interesting. There are a lot of scenes that would work really well from her point of view.

Hereward's sons are off doing exciting things that would be great to see.

And, of course, Suzerra is a swamp witch and would obviously make a good narrator.

Everyone wants to tell their side of the story!

I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do about it. It's possible that I could change to an Omniscient narrator. But it's easy for that to get messy fast. How I envy television shows, that can follow whoever the heck they want. (Ok, I don't really envy TV writers -- there are so many rules that being able to follow any character is small compensation.) But maybe I'll go read some articles on Omniscient writing, find some books that are good examples of the style, and try my hand at it.

I think, for now, I'm going to keep it from Jak and Maurelle's points of view and see if the story can flow that way. Too many cooks spoil the stew, and too many POV characters just make my head hurt.

So, yup, that's my progress (or lack thereof) on Magicland. I really should be writing instead of over-analyzing, that might help. Guess I'll get on that. (Who are we kidding? I'm going to go watch Hogan's Heroes.)




Anonymous said...

If I were you, I'd try to write the book as close to the main story as possible, and then go back and write the journals, or just the stories, of my favorite characters. Or write their stories first, and then the book, so that you have a better understanding of who you;re writing about. But, if you write the book first, you could see how each character changes throughout the story, then write about them correspondingly- like if someone dies.

The Hot Girl in the Comic Shop said...

That's actually exactly what I'm planning ^_^ I always make a big deal about having no idea what's going on, because it freaks me out, but I know it will come together after I write the first draft. I do wish I knew the POV, but I don't, and that's ok. I'll write it from Jak and Maurelle's perspectives, because the main story seems to be about them, and I'll see what happens from there.