Sunday, January 16, 2011

Point Of View

Or POV as all us hip-with-the-writer-lingo call it *guffaws at calling herself a writer in a public arena*.

Once upon a time a very famous comedian made the observation that in nature films, we tend to cheer for which ever of the animals is the focus of the film.  For example if the film is about lions and we see a lion chasing an antelope then we're all like "Go Lion!  Catch that antelope!  You can do it!  Yay the Lion caught the antelope and now the Lion will live!"  but if the film is about the antelope we're like "Run Antelope!  Duck.  Dive.  Run faster damn you!  Don't let him catch you!  Oh, you let him catch you!  You horrible lion.  We hate you lion!"

That, my friends is the power of POV.

The extremely clever K M Weiland from over at Wordplay put it very succinctly in her post about how many POVs are too many when she gave the tip that
"POV is most affective when assigned to the character who has the most at stake in any given scene".

When I heard that it was like hearing something you kind of instinctively knew but really needed it to be affirmed by a higher authority before actually believing it. 

But you have to be careful not to spread the love too thinly.  Too many POVs and the reader runs the risk of not investing enough in your main characters because your minor characters have had too much to say and the main characters not enough.

How have you handle POV in your work?

6 comments:

Nas Dean said...

Hi Lisa,

Great topic you rose today. I struggle with POV. So far I've been going with my instincts.

Elissa Graham said...

I think that's the best way Nas, you do what comes naturally and then, when you're revising, you can go through and apply all the craft rules and regs. But sometimes I think we ignore our instincts too much - mind you some people tend to confuse bad habits for instincts so what do I know?!

Talei said...

I'm writing from my MC's pov mainly, I've toyed with changing it to include another but I feel it would lose her voice/story...if that makes sense. Its hard. The story I write I'll definitely have 2 POVs.

Btw I like the Lion and Antelope example! ;)

Elissa Graham said...

It's a fine line to walk isn't it Talei? That whole not wanting to dilute the essence of your MC by including another POV but sometimes needing to jump into someone else's head.

Wish I could take credit for the Lion and Antelope but a far funnier mind than mine came up with that one.

Jackie Ashenden said...

I HATE head-hopping. That's my number one pet peeve. Where the POV changes from paragraph to paragraph. So annoying. But anyway, what you say about being in the POV of the character with most to lose/gain is the best way of doing judging which POV you need to be in.
With category romance, you have to be in the heroine's POV and the hero's. Including another character's POV is not a good idea, though I have seen it done.

What I have found is that when a scene is particularly difficult to write, writing it from another POV can work really well.

Elissa Graham said...

I agree Jackie - hopping from POV to POV in subsequent paragraphs makes me feel totally ill.

I think that's one of the most comforting things about category romance is that there is, at the most, two POVS (I've not read any where there has been more so I'd be interested to read one where there is) and you can become totally invested in the main characters - not having to spread your interest and affection across lots of characters.

And as a writer, category romance offers other POV pros and cons - pro being you don't have to worry about secondary characters quite so much ie their motivation, background, relationship etc and a con would be that you are limited to seeing the whole story from just two POVs.