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writing: point of view

I’ve been thinking a LOT about writing this week because a) I’m writing a lot and b) I’m talking about writing at the WIFYR Conference in Sandy, Utah, this Thursday. They have opened up the keynote address (which I’m giving!) and the autographing afterwards to the public, which is awesome. All of the presenters at the conference participate in the signing (at least, that’s how it’s been in the past) so if you come you can have books signed by Holly Black, Emily Wing Smith, Martine Leavitt, Kathleen Duey, Claudia Mills, and many more. The King’s English will be there selling books so you can get everything you need right on-site. (Have I mentioned before how awesome this conference is?) Hope to see you there!

Anyway. Back to the writing. I have seven books published now (I’m counting CROSSED because it’s in ARC form and so it is, to some extent, out there in the world in print). And of those seven books, four of them are told from more than one point of view.

Including CROSSED.

Why is that? I think it’s simply because it’s the way that feels natural, most often, to me to tell the story. It’s because I like knowing what everyone is thinking and I like the freshness of seeing the same event, world, etc., from different points of view and realizing that it is not the same at all.

I remembered this once again while we were on our family vacation. My poor boys. We put them in the car and then drove them from the mountains of northern Utah to the beaches of southern California in one day, with horrendous traffic. Fifteen hours in the car are enough to try any small soul, and they did not have the luxury of that awesome DVD player (I found this picture on the interwebs).

At one point, near the end of the drive, they were all just so tired and done. So I wedged myself in between the two car seats in the last row so I could be as close as possible to everyone and change things up a little. And I was kind of stunned. I’ve ridden in the middle row before, but not often in what we call the “very back.” Look at this place! I thought. It’s so huge! And there are so many melty crayons on the floor! It was like I was riding in a whole different car.

Sometimes this is a great way to get unstuck when you’re writing. Even if you’re not planning to write the entire book from another point of view, you can try a scene from a different angle just to feel it out and sometimes you’ll see, Ooh, I’m missing that. Or, it would be much more interesting if I showed this instead.

It can really pay off, in real life as well as writing life. Had I not gotten in the very back and checked things out, I would have entirely missed the extra pack of Cars fruit snacks that I ate later when everyone fell asleep.

What do you think? Do you like writing/reading from more than one point of view?

+ comments (13)
  • LovesBooks
    June 14, 2011

    I love different POV, it gives us perspective from the other person, we get to experience their emotions through this type of writing

  • Bethany Hudson
    June 14, 2011

    I am currently working on a 4-book series (first one is finished and querying now) that is told from 2 POVs. The 2nd book in the series actually adds a 3rd POV.

    I LOVE reading books told from multiple POVs. Sometimes, they can get to be tooo many–I think that each of the POVs should come from a VERY central character. (Just my opinion), but from As I Lay Dying on forward, I have always loved getting inside multiple characters heads. And, as you said, when I write, this is sometimes how it comes. Different voices demand to speak, and as the author, what can I do but let them?

    I wonder if this is all a product of being an actress in a former life (meaning that is the art form I trained and worked in before I started writing full time, not that I have been reincarnated or anything). You read a script, and it’s told from multiple perspectives, even if there is one central protagonist.

    What I have found challenging in the series I’m working on right now, though, is that I actually have 2 protagonists, in addition to 2 POVs. My series follows a traditional hero cycle, so building hero cycles for both protagonists has been a really exciting challenge–think LOTR with Aragorn and Frodo both completing their own quests. Also, one of my MCs is female, which builds in the additional challenge of making on hero cycle a heroINE cycle, which truly is different no matter what the gender studies courses tell you. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for your perspective! I loved the van analogy. So true. I have 2 littles, and just getting down on the floor to see the house from their level does the same thing for me. I love it!

  • ChrissyCooper
    June 14, 2011

    I love reading different POV’s! I think reading other POV’s really helps the reader connect to other characters in the book, although I really loved Xander and Ky throughout MATCHED. I’d love to get a glance into their minds as well 🙂

  • AlexAnacki
    June 14, 2011

    A different point of view is neded in certain types of stories. It really depends on the genre.

    And I agree with ChrissyCooper about knowing Xander and Ky’s POV. Maybe the third book. 😀

  • Ivie Porto
    June 14, 2011

    I like to read POV, and write POV, this is easier when you ask the opinion of friends and other people, you can see the things differently from another angle.
    Serious that CROSSED has POV? *——* From Ky’s or Xander’s POV? I’m increasingly anxious to read!!! *O*

  • Elle Strauss
    June 14, 2011

    I’ve done both, it just depends on the story. The wip I’m working on now is in two POV’s. At first I was just going to use one, but the story seemed to demand two.

  • Blue
    June 14, 2011

    I am going to be 38,000 feet in the air for the rest of the week or I would SO be there Thursday night! I still hope to take you and JDG to lunch sometime! 🙂 I’m working on a book with different POV, and I am not much of a writer, so I appreciated this post. I’ve worried about giving each different character “equal time”, and wondered how to handle it when it seems like one is more of a main character than the others. I’ll figure things out later, I hope! For now I just hope to get the 1st draft down. That would be a big personal accomplishment.

    Wishing you a wonderful event this week!
    ~Blue ♥

  • Jeigh
    June 14, 2011

    This had helped me a lot with my WIP. I have about 50 pages from a different character’s POV, even though I’m not using his for the story. It really does help with certain scenes, though, and it also helps me understand him better.

  • Heather Macbeth
    June 15, 2011

    The book I’m writing currently is told from about eight different points of view. I’m calling it the “LOST” concept because each chapter delves into the character’s personality and past while the story continually progresses for everyone. I LOVE writing this way. I think it makes it far easier to bond with characters. I think knowing what drives someone is a way to make more interested readers.

    Knowing that you have written CROSSED this way makes me 10x more excited to read it (and I was really, really, really, really excited to read it before!)

  • D. Watson
    June 15, 2011

    It really depends on how it’s used. When Sanderson does it, it slows the pace down tremendously. He’s really telling multiple, tangentially related stories at once. The flow would often go better if he broke them into separate stories and called it a trilogy. Tolkein doesn’t do different PoV until the latter half once all the backstories are already set. That keeps it from dragging on. When the Book of Mormon does a different perspective, it’s always flashback storytelling and you eventually get back to where you were. Then you have Mull or Crichton who asks which character is the most interesting one to contribute to the current scene and uses them, but it’s still just one story and an even flow to follow. Confidentially, it took quite some time before I started to get the characters and their relationships straight in Yearbook. Would it have been nice to get in some of the friends’ perspectives in Freshman? Yes, and it could have added a lot of character depth on the other pair of friends, but it wasn’t needed to make a good story.

    Probably more than you were looking for. Sorry.

  • LorenRose
    June 15, 2011

    I usually think about a story from more than one point of view, but I write it from the main characters POV, waiting until THEY find out what the others were thinking about. I usually only do different POV’s when I’m writing with a friend, so she’ll write a chapter from her POV, and then I do one form mine. Right now I’m working on a book, and I just reached 11,000 words. Not much when you think about it in large scale, but I guess it means a lot to me. For now I’ve written it in one person’s POV, but I’m thinking about switching it, just to keep things interesting. But I can’t wait to read CROSSED (Hope I get the arc), because I read MATCHED for the book club, and am DYING to read the next one!!!! 😀

  • Iesha
    June 20, 2011

    While reading matched I always wanted to know what was going on in Ky’s mind during the moments when Cassia couldn’t figure out what he was thinking. If Ky’s point of view is in Crossed (which by the way I am nearly spazzing at the thought of it being released this very fall) i will be a very content reader. ha ha ha. 🙂
    I dont mind what POV is in a book, as long as it is intriguing to the point where you keep flipping pages. I am insanely in love in how the way you write it so the words seem simple, yet not all compressed. You probably wont understand, or you might, but it’s just my personal opinion. Oh yeah, I forgot to add that I dont particularly like full length novels with a second person POV. Like “You open your eyes and the sun is already high in the sky. You’ve slept away the whole morning. You roll over on the hot sand, scrambling to your knees. The events of last night come rushing back to you…” It just that it feels as if someone is ordering you to do this and that when you are really aren’t doing it in reality, and are just reading the demands. I have no trouble with it being in a travel guide or a short description, but a whole book is too much for me.

  • Angela Evans
    June 20, 2011

    I love reading both 1 POV or multiple. But for some reason I find it easier to write in 1POV. To me it makes it more personal, on a writer level that is.

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