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Monday, 21 May 2012

Point of View

Being a mother freakin’ writer means my days are filled with a lot of mothering with some writing squeezed in.  I try to read as much as I can whenever I can and there are piles of books on my bedside table, which I slowly make my way through.

Recently I finished a book with various quotes of praise from other writers all over the front cover.  And yet, I waded laboriously through the entire thing, annoyed by the characters, by the writer’s slight pretentiousness, giving up hope the plot was ever going to go anywhere about three-quarters of the way through.  I have a hard time abandoning a book, so I stuck with it and finished it, albeit a skimming-kind of finishing. 

After finishing the book, I tried pinpointing where the big problem was for me because I love literary fiction, even the kind that rarely gets published, the plot-less kind that pulls you into another world with interesting, compelling characters.  This book should have been that kind of literary fiction, but for me, it fell flat, and one of the main problems in the book was one with point of view or POV.  The narrator in the book was a character with an omniscient point of view which did not work very well because I kept wondering how the narrator knew things that only other characters would know if the narrator was also a character.

Point of view is tricky business when writing and when done well, a reader is confident in the world a writer creates.  When not done well, a story feels as messy as a kid’s room after a play date.  Point of view confusion leaves a reader wondering who’s in charge.

Point of view can be tackled from multiple angles.   It isn’t always one narrator that can tell a story.  Several characters can have their own points of view, but they must be tackled in distinct chapters or in passages that are separate from other points of view.  Even seasoned writers can slip with point of view, because a writer knows what another character would think or feel, but they can’t leave their main character to hop inside another’s head, even for a minute. 

Since point of view is such a huge topic, we are so lucky and excited to have a guest blogger on Friday.  Harry Bingham from The Writer’s Workshop is with us, writing all about Point of View and answering some of our best questions.  So tune in Friday for some more about POV.

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