Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Point of View – Pick One (some exceptions allowed)

A plea to authors, especially the aspiring kind: choose one point of view. I promise, it will do your book a world of good.

I spend a lot of time reading and critiquing and reviewing books at various points of publication. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the point of view shifts. I get nice and comfortable in the head of the protagonist, and I am bulleted to another head. Most often, the shifts are unnecessary and detract from a good story. They chop it up.

Now, I know it can be done well. "Flipped," by Wendelin Van Draanen, is famously written from two different character's perspectives. "Little Women" is written from an omniscient point of view, dropping in on each character in turn (although it should be noted this was published so long ago, it may not be relevant to today's market). 

These are fine examples of doing it right, and if your story demands more than one point of view, study the masters on how it was done before. Most of the time, chapter breaks help the reader get in the right head. Changing the speaker by scene breaks gets messy. Really messy. You don't want your reader wondering who is in charge while reading your book. 






1 comment:

  1. I work pretty hard to keep it to one point of view, but sometimes in editing I find that I have strayed and have to clean up the perspective. It's tough, because I do know everyone's thoughts and motivations, but I agree that shifting creates choppy prose.