Point of view, by SM Spencer

As a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, I get opportunities to host some amazing authors. SM Spencer is the beneficiary of a “Spotlight Week.” As such she will be popping up all over Blogland to promote her wares and introduce herself.

She's here today to tell us how she chooses a point of view.

HOW I CHOOSE POINT OF VIEW

A lot has been written about the various POV options, as well as the pros and cons of each. I’ve Googled the topic, read articles and a multitude of chapters in editing books and even so I find some of the discussions can get rather confusing. So, how do I go about choosing between the various POV options? Well, let me start with a simple definition and then I’ll tell you how I do it.

Works of fiction are narrated by a person (or sometimes an animal) that is telling the story. Point of view (“POV”) is, put simply, the perspective from which that narrator speaks.

So, who is the narrator of any given story? Is it a single character from within the story, or is the story told by more than one character? Or is the narrator not part of the story at all? Is the story to be told by an omniscient being with knowledge and understanding of all the characters? The decision as to who the narrator is determines whether there is a single viewpoint or a dual, multiple or omniscient viewpoint. The type of narrator can be first person (“I”) or third person (“he” or “she”).


So, armed with a definition, how did I choose? I put on my reader hat and thoughtabout what books I’ve really enjoyed as a reader, and then I went back and had a look at how those books were written.

Take the Janet Evanovich books for example. Stephanie Plum is a sassy bounty hunter who I found it incredibly likeable. These books are written in first person single viewpoint.


Another style of first person, first person present, is gaining popularity and can be found in books such as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. I’ve read a few books written in this fashion, and while I find that the writing can seem somewhat abrupt initially, if the story is good enough I do settle into the style. However I suspect it must take a great deal of concentration to consistently write in this style without slipping up.

If you don’t want to write in first person, as in “I”, then there is third person. Narrated by “he” or “she” and considerable use of the character’s name, third person can have single, dual or multiple viewpoints. Third person dual viewpoint is often used for contemporary romance books as it allows for a much greater development of the hero. This provides greater insight into the feelings and motivations of both characters, not just the female protagonist.


Third person multiple viewpoints is the technique used in many books, but a warning to authors: make sure the changes are clearly identified by spacing, and use of the characters names in the course of the narration.

So, having said all that, how do I choose the POV for a particular story?


I answer the following questions. Is it best for the story to unfold through the eyes of one main character, knowing that the reader will only know what this main character knows? Or will the story work better if told from two or more viewpoints? Then I decide whether I would prefer to write in first person, or third person. Again, going back over books I’ve read and liked helped with both decisions.


Another key factor for me in determining the POV to use is to keep the reader’s best interests in mind. It is crucial that the reader never be in doubt as to who is telling the story.


In writing the Absent Shadows trilogy I chose a single point of view, being that of the main character, Lili. This was her story, told from her perspective entirely. As many of the other characters in the story were not human, I felt it best for the reader to see them as Lili saw them rather than to delve too deeply into their thoughts, desires and motivations.


However I am employing other POV’s with my current works in progress. The contemporary romance is written in third person dual viewpoint. Another, which I am still struggling to categorise, is currently being written in third person with multiple viewpoints.


My advice to authors would be to read articles and books to expand your knowledge but above all, keep it simple, and trust your instincts.


S M Spencer’s first series is called Absent Shadows Trilogy. To find out more about the series, and obtain free samples of each of the books, visit Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=series_rw_dp_labf?_encoding=UTF8&field-collection=Absent%20Shadows%20Trilogy&url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text

You can also follow her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SMSpencer.writer for advice about upcoming promotions as well as updates on the books she’s currently working on.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Point of view, by SM Spencer

  1. I like to mix POVs (never in the same scene and always clearly defined). In my latest, I’ve used deep 1st for the protagonist, deep 3rd for the detective, and deep 3rd for the antagonist, who is a blast to write. For crime thrillers it’s very effective. I enjoyed hearing about your process, SM. Good luck with your books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Lori Beasley Bradley my writing and commented:
    This is a great article for writers!

    Like

  3. A well-written piece, SM. POV is a very important aspect in telling a great story. My favorite novel, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, utilizes multiple POVs. Each chapter belongs to one of the five female characters–the mother and four daughters. Each chapter exhibits a different voice, a different view of the unfolding events that eventually pull their family apart. This works wonderfully. However, when I wrote Jazz Baby, I chose a first person, single POV, as the main character is telling her story as she sees it. This is my personal favorite. My current WIP is a third person, single POV.

    Beware the POV shift, where it changes within the same scene, or even within the same chapter, where it’s not clearly defined as to which character is now telling the story. I’ve given up on reading many novels due to this cloudy confusion. Best wishes on the remainder of your tour.

    Craig, thanks for hosting SM. Your support is truly appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So agree that you need to keep your PoV character strands well defined – I had mostly 3rd person multiples in my debut novel (with one character going to 1st for her journal entries) and mostly kept to one PoV per chapter. I also separated flashbacks for that character when needed. I think PoV writing’s fun to do as the character perspective grows and gets more interesting for the reader, or even challenges them more as well. Most people seem to cope with more than 1 PoV quite well, but, as you say you need keep the storylines tangle-free! 😀
    Thanks for hosting Sandy, Craig 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. S M Spencer

    Thank you, mine host – much appreciated 😉😎😉😎😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve found that a lot of indie authors who have no clear idea about POV tell the world they are writing in omniscient POV. But what they are really doing is writing whatever they want, switching from one POV to the next. The head hopping is quite distracting. I’ve see a few who do omniscient well, but most crucify that POV.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    I found your POVs very interesting. We don’t talk a lot about them so this is a timely blog. I do remember giving it some thought as to how I would write my first book. You have to. I love what I learn from other members. Thank you SM for your thoughts on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great blog, SM! I appreciate you insight!
    Thank you for hosting, Craig!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well said. POV can be a real challenge for writers. It was for me with my first novel. Thankfully, my editor provided invaluable guidance and techniques with my rewrites.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Right now I am reading Carl Hiaason and Janet Evanovich novels. After a slew of serious historical fiction I need light hearted and humor for now.

    Liked by 1 person

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