Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNo, POV, etc.

It's the fourth of November, and I'm going crazy with my NaNo story! I've never written anything before without editing and revising as I go along, and not doing it now is driving me up a wall. But my story is bursting out all over...and I do mean, all over. I have no idea where it is going to end up. At least I have a semblance of a plot, and some really neat characters, but where they are going to take me, I'm not at all sure. I guess I'll just wait and be surprised on the 30th of the month!

Some of my writer friends tell me they usually have a problem with point of view, so let's talk about that a little.

Do you usually write in 1st person or 3rd person? Until I began my most recent novel, I had always written in 3rd person, which many seasoned writers recommend. But AJ's story begged to be told from her POV, so I wrote in 1st person, but past tense. The problem with 1st person is that your MC has to be in every scene. Everything that happens has to occur, and be interpreted, through the eyes of the MC. That can place a lot of restrictions on what you are writing. What is said behind the MC's back? What happens when she is not present? Sometimes these things are important to the storyline, and if so, then you really can't write in 1st person.

I believe that I did a fairly intelligent job with AJ...of course, that remains to be seen when the editor reads the manuscript. Because this particular novel was character driven, it wasn't hard to have AJ in every scene. But what about those of you who have stories that are plot driven? That's when you have to make the decision to write in 3rd person, so all of the important characters can make their individual contributions to keep the plot active and on track. One character can't do that.

Another thing about 3rd person is that it gives you, the writer, a lot more leeway and flexibility in your writing. You can be more descriptive as the author, but more important, you can move in and out of your characters' lives, thoughts and emotions, as well as showing their reactions to issues and events in a more reflective way.

Sometimes authors like to use an omniscient POV, where every character has his or her own POV, There are two problems with this, in my opinion. One is that for younger readers it can get very confusing as to who is saying and thinking what. When you have two or three characters telling or showing their interpretations to one incident or one event, it not only can be disconcerting but it can be repetitive. The other problem is that most kids, even teens, like to be able to focus in on one character, and to "feel" for that character, to bond, in effect, with that character. An omniscient POV doesn't allow the reader to do that.

When you begin your story or novel, think about your characters. Who is going to be your main character? Is your story going to be character driven, or plot driven? If character driven, is it basically going to be told from the MC's POV? Can you successfully use a 1st person POV with your MC, or will 3rd person be better, so that some of the plot can be revealed through eyes other than those of the MC?

Not only are these questions that need to be answered before you begin writing...if possible...but you also need to consider the tense. Personally, I don't like reading in the present tense, whether it is 1st or 3rd person, so I don't write in present tense. Past tense is much easier, regardless of 1st or 3rd person POV. Take time to decide this before you begin writing. Sometimes...although not will find as you go along that you need to change either the tense or the POV, but making a decision first, I think, is the best way to start.