SO. Let's talk about point of view.
First, some quick stats, just so you know where I'm coming from.
--Of my recent (read: decent) books, two use more than one point of view (hereafter POV.) These two are THE ANIMALS WERE GONE and ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING, both of which you will have heard of if you are a regular reader of this blog, but the latter only if you are a REALLY regular reader. Because it has been in hiding for a little while. If you're curious about either of these, they're tagged at the end of the post. Click on the link and you'll see all the posts about 'em.
--THE ANIMALS WERE GONE is my favorite of all my manuscripts, and I love ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING, too (though I like INVINCIBLE SUMMER more. In fact, if I ranked my top three of my YAs, it would probably be 1. ANIMALS, 2. INVINCIBLE SUMMER, 3. ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING. Am I allowed to say this shit?)
--Here are some of my favorite books written with multiple POV, some of which are epistolatory, which may or may not be the word I'm looking for: Will Grayson, Will Grayson, The Realm of Possibility, Love Is The Higher Law, Are We There Yet, (can you tell I love David Levithan?) The Kings Are Already Here, The Year of Secret Assignments, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Caddy Ever After, P.S. Longer Letter Later, 33 Snowfish.
--Despite that long list, the VAST majority of my favorite books are written in one POV.
So. It is fair to say that I am far more experienced, both in reading and writing, in single POV than in multiple.
I love writing multiple.
I don't know. I just love it.
I wasn't planning to write THE ANIMALS WERE GONE in two POVs. In fact, I'd already considered and dismissed the idea. It was all going to be in Craig's POV. And then I finished the first chapter, hit enter a few times, and typed LIO at the top of the page. Because apparently it was Lio's turn.
Listen, I don't pull all that shit about how I'm controlled by my characters or my books have a mind of their own or something like that, because frankly, I think that stuff is stupid. I'm sorry if I offend anyone (but seriously, if you're reading this blog and you choose THAT to be offended by...)
I love the roles my characters play in my stories. I love writing them. I smile when I write good lines for them. I don't ever forget that they aren't real people. They are words on a page. I'm happy you like them. I like them too. But they're here to tell a story--my story--and, even though I'm a romantic (I am, damn it, don't laugh) I don't like to get stuck in that sensitive writer mode of thinking your characters are real people with real minds of their own. It sounds cold-hearted, but characters are tools. And point of view is a tool. And words are tools. All of these are tools to tell your story. Characters are not beautiful and unique snowflakes, etc.
So. Lio did not jump off the page and insist I write his viewpoint or anything like that. I just knew, in that second, that Craig's part was closed for now, and it was Lio's turn, or we were only going to get half of the story. But it was a revelation that came after I'd started writing.
ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING, on the other hand, came into my head as four different points of view, because it's a story about four kids in a high school chorus--one soprano, one alto, one tenor, and one bass. (Yes, yes, girls, I'm writing girls.) The point of views, in this case, are a bigger toll for the story than the are in ANIMALS. They form the premise of the story, while, in ANIMALS, they're just making sure that you hear from both the quiet character and the loud character.
Which leads to another problem I'm having, now that I'm hardcore revising ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING. Keeping voices distinct. This gets harder and harder the more POVs you have, and four is definitely in tricky territory for me. I'm concentrating a lot on speech patterns, rhythm, and word choice--my bass, if run through one of those scanner things, would result in a much higher reading difficulty than my tenor. But I'm still struggling with this. My alto and my tenor are still blending together a little, and sometimes my soprano starts to sound a little like them, too.
So. Let's wrap this up. What are your thoughts on multiple POV? Do you read it? Do you write it? If you do, how do you keep the voices distinct, and how do you approach revisions? (basically, HELP ME.)
Sunday, June 20, 2010
SO. Let's talk about point of view.