Throughout my writing life, I’ve been a maverick with POV, character point of view. The real problem for me on POV is the fact that I really enjoy using multiple POVs, and that can easily lead to story confusion.
If you consider the following two endings, used in different versions of the same story, you can understand how POV can change things. The first paragraph is the ending from an FBI agent’s third person POV, and the second ending gives the first person POV of a killer.
(FBI agent): “He thought of Julia and Trey, whom he’d had to raise singly following their mother’s fatal cancer, and was warmed by the vista of dirty dishes, scattered rock cassettes, rooms untidy with clothing in need of laundry service, and one, or two, of their teen friends draped across his favorite recliner. Normal things.”
(Killer): “My mind throbbed with those ‘normal things of the day’. The FBI twins had known my name. They hadn’t been thrown off at all. Didn’t matter. It was all done. I smiled.”
The two endings themselves convey a completely different mindset — one positive, one negative — using the prop of ‘normal things’ connected to their different POVs. The agent’s job is crime, but the heart of his life is his home. The killer is happy only to have accomplished his despicable deed.
Now, imagine the story written and completed with both POVs and both voices. And that would be the story I wrote! I understand the importance of not confusing my readers, and sometimes, certainly, I fall short on that with my enthusiasm for writing in my own maverick way, etc.
However, in multiple viewpoint stories, I normally use stars and double spacing to indicate a POV shift, and I stick with that character’s POV throughout one scene before making a switch. Even published wonders Danielle S. and Barbara Taylor B. don’t do that. Their reads include POV switches from paragraph to paragraph, even from sentence to sentence. And yet I love their stories! And that makes me think my way is less maverick-ish than theirs, and so maybe my way isn’t too bad a way, after all.
Now we come to POV with story Pace and story Point. It’s all about the “P” triplets. I understand total, non-stop pace in today’s reading world. Get in, get it, get out. But I needn’t like it, and I don’t. What I don’t understand is not taking the time to browse over a story, to absorb it, to catch its little ironies and corners of thought.
I enjoy interspersing my writing efforts with actual passages of thought. I call it thought-absorption, a tool used to let a reader catch his breath from exciting, break-neck pacing. And I believe that can be used in a short story, as well as in a novel, where, I believe, it actually is recommended. Let the reader breathe now and then between heart-stopping action scenes.
In my own book of writing enjoyment, total pace is just too breathless, and it doesn’t speak of real life, in which we slow down between splashes of action. As in life, I need relief, humor, and thoughtfulness in my reads.
Of course, suspension of disbelief and not droning on and on with scenes of less action are both essential ingredients to good writing. That’s where controlling the pace comes into play. That’s art.
Stories and books are my life-long buddies. I want to enjoy them, take them all in and remember them for the experiences they offer.
It’s difficult for me to relate to a young reader of today who never held a good, hard-back book in his own hands, nor enjoyed the ramifications of leisurely reading, who never even learned to write cursive when he attended grade school, who learned early on that his thumbs should rule his world.
Give me some truth, some beauty, a hard-back book in my hands, some artful thinking and flow. I’ll try to give the same. I want my readers to think, not just settle for periods of swift entertainment.
And at the age of 72, I don’t want my writing world rocked too much.
A maverick can adjust, can learn, but she can’t tolerate complete reversal of everything writing she’s already accepted and applied in her own way, with her own voice of reason.
My writing life continues unshaken. I love American freedom, baseball, hot dogs, and spice cake, and Charles Dickens’ sentences.