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On Writing – Point of View

So I freely admit it: I’m a multiple point of view (pov) whore. I love to read stories where we know what all the main characters are thinking. That’s absolutely the kind of story I love best. It means I can see not just the motivations of each main character, but also what’s going on with the other characters when we’re not with “the hero(ine)” of the story. Because let’s face it, Star Wars would’ve been seriously boring if it had just been from Luke’s pov and we’d never seen anything else.

I also almost exclusively read third person stories for that exact reason. And I’m sure there are a ton of awesome first person stories that I’m avoiding, but I just can’t get into them. It’s just so damn limiting to see everything (and in such depth) from a single person’s thoughts/actions that I haven’t been able to get into them. There are a few exceptions, of course, and if people have truly awesome novels they’d like to rec to me that are 1st person pov, I welcome the attempt to change my mind.

All of my novels – and tv scripts – have been ensemble pieces where we get to see multiple povs. Granted, most are only 2 povs, but Flux is up to 4 and I honestly can’t envision that one any other way. I love getting into the heads of all my characters and showing the crazy thing that happens to B, C, and D while A is out saving the world. It totally adds to the richness of the story’s tapestry to fill in multiple colored threads instead of leaving it all monochrome.

Having said all that, I’ll tell you that I now have mad respect for the people who write from a single pov. Why is that, you ask? Because I just did it. Holy crap that was hard! I just finished writing The Arbiter & The End of Time last night and I swear to God it was like pulling teeth through the entire process.

I outlined it no problem. Was very excited about the plot. Loved all of my characters (we’ve met before in shorts). And yet when it came to the actual writing of the novel, I had to force out each and every chapter because it was so different from what I’d written before. I’ll tell you something… if I’d added even a second pov to this novel, it would easily stand at 130k words because just with the one, it ended up at 72k.

Through the whole thing, I very seriously worried that it wasn’t enough. That one pov wouldn’t be enough to a) hold anyone’s attention, and b) fill up enough words to make a novel (so far, the Arbiter stories have all been novellas). I felt confined and restless as I wrote because I wanted to tell the world what Justin and his fellow guardians were up to. I wanted to show what sort of spells and evil mischief Harold concocted in his magic shop. And let’s not forget Michel, the suave fae who has… an interest in Cecily… just what does he get up to in his mansion on the hill? Instead, all I had was Cecily being sent pillar to post as she tried to save time.

Don’t get me wrong, Cecily is an awesome heroine and I love her sarcastic self to pieces, but writing a whole novel with just her pov? Still scares the crap outta me and it’s finished. Now that the first draft is done and the initial panic is finally out of the way, the editing process begins. This is where I really find out if I have legitimately written a single pov novel that works and is good to read. And really, I aim for great to read. ;o)

I haven’t changed my mind about reading first person pov, but I may try my hand at writing it. I think challenging yourself as a writer is absolutely essential. And if it doesn’t work, who cares? You’ve tried something new and stretched your writing muscles.

So yeah. Kudos to those writing from a single pov. It’s damn hard.

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

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Nancy at the Tim Burton exhibit in L.A.

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