Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The right point of view

A bit over halfway done now in my review reading of what I wrote so many days ago.  It's interesting, and it's exciting.  Frankly, I like what I've written so far, which is, I guess, the most important thing.  But soon I'll have to deal with all the margin scribbles I've been making. 

Other than "describe," which I actually don't inflict upon myself all that much compared to what I've heard of other beginning writers' weakness in that area, "POV" is probably my most common scribble.  Point of view...a much-discussed and oft-debated topic.  There's a good article about it in WritersDigest.com: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/fiction-point-of-view/, but there are countless other articles at other addresses, filling the Internet right up.  I can't help but imagine that, had I sought a formal education in writing, I'd have had an entire class or two where we wrote four different stories about, say, a car wreck, one from each observer's point of view.  Sounds like a horribly boring activity to me, but I've seen it discussed in the the World Wide Whirlpool out there. 

Given the breadth of information already out there, it hardly seems a good use of bits here to discuss the various options available to an author.  Or...to me, anyway, since I'm the author in question.  I could've probably chosen other options, but I went with a third person shifting point of view that is pretty common in fiction.  It's what you read in Harry Potter books as well as in The Twilight Saga.  Tom Clancy used it extraordinarily well, up until the point where all the zippity zipping around the world got annoying to me as a reader.  A story should, after all, be an enjoyable diversion from life rather than a memory check, and when the chapter shifts suddenly to Colonel Smith and I have to stop and flip pages back to remember where the heck Colonel Smith is and what he's doing, I get distracted.  And bored.  And bored's a bad thing for a reader of fiction.

So...knowing that shifting points of view is gonna happen in my book...why do I keep writing it in the margins as something to fix?  Because there's a difference between "OK, I've changed chapters, so now it's time to shift from RJ to Crystal's point of view in telling the story" and having three subsequent paragraphs, the first saying "Crystal saw this and thought that." and the second saying "RJ saw this and thought that." and the third saying...you guessed it...Crystal stuff.  As a reader, I expect the point of view to shift to someone else when it's a part that Crystal can't possibly know.  The smart literary experts call it "limited view versus omniscient view," I think, but I'm not that smart on it.  When it's the same scene, flipping back and forth in POV is distracting to the story flow.  It's subtle, which is, I'd like to think, why I didn't notice I was doing it in the writing of the story, but it's noticeable when you read it. 

So...I will fix it.  Soon, I promise! 

Word count: Oh, bite me

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