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Monday, February 25, 2013

What's Your Point of View?

Remember back in whatever grade it was when you had to learn point of view? You know, stuff like first person, third person, omniscient and all that. Boring stuff, huh? Unfortunately, some of us are a little different breed and actually get excited about things like this. I think I just admitted to one of my idiosyncrasies but you probably already knew it anyway.

Well, here’s the thing. I’ve wanted to be an author for a VERY long time. I think that ‘when-I-grow-up’ wish dates back to second grade – even before I knew about John Boy Walton or had met up with Laura Ingalls Wilder on the library shelves. That might explain why certain pieces of information that are fairly meaningless to most of us kind of stick with me and make an impact on future decisions. Case in point:

Several years ago – probably many years ago because I don’t remember when exactly, I read one of those pieces authors are fond of writing titled with some variation of “What advice do you have for those who would like to be writers?” I can’t remember who the particular author was either but the gist of her article – that I remember vividly.

The advice she gave to would be writers is always use a single point of view. Now this terminology is a little different from first person or third person thing. What she meant was to tell your story from only one vantage point, most probably that of your heroine. Therefore the reader would see only the thoughts and feelings in the heroine’s head without the advantage of “head-hopping” or going from one character to another to find out what they’re thinking. This author had been very successful with this approach. Her reasoning was that in real life this is the way it happens. In our own life circumstances we don’t know what others around us are thinking unless they tell us. More realistic then. Made perfect sense to me at the time.

When I wrote the eight romance novels that I currently list in my repertoire, I used this technique of single point of view. Some of you reading this have read some of those novels. You know what I mean. I never, not once, ventured out of my heroine’s head and hopped over to someone else’s, aka, the dreaded “male point of view.” I find myself pretty much unqualified to write from a male perspective. Who knows how a man thinks? Certainly not me. Any ladies out there, if you understand male perspective perhaps I could convince you to share some insights with me.

So, it took all this time, 8 books and many rejections later to figure out that THINGS HAVE CHANGED. Hello. Time to come out of the 1980s and step into the here and now. No one writes books from single POV anymore. I can’t name one fiction romance I’ve read, written within the last ten years (and I’ve read a LOT) that uses single POV. So, I had to be sort of hit over the head with this concept. I participated in an online editor chat a few weeks ago where this point came up. Industry standard is now at least two POVs (hero and heroine) with an approximate even split between the two. Most publishing houses won’t even consider anything else. A few are still out there that might, but when you’re a newcomer wanna-be like me, straying from the norm is not the most recommended road to travel.

First, I went through utter dismay. All 8 of my novels were trash. Hide them. Never let them see the light of day. It’s too embarrassing that I actually wrote like that. But, I couldn’t do it. Those are my babies. But what to do? I couldn’t send them out into the harsh real world without the proper upbringing.

I consulted with several of my author friends and also the highest authority I could find in my tight circle of literary advice-givers. My sister knows everything and doesn’t hesitate to tell me!  Jill, and every other author friend I asked including my 1K/1Hr group on facebook said the same thing. Just change your stories. Hmmm…. Easy for you to say!

One friend said this. Change the first story to make about half of it from your hero’s perspective but keep it the old way too. Lay them side by side and see which you like best. Or better yet, which one a future editor might like best. Good advice.

 All I could think of was how much time this would take and how awful it would be to decide how to cut half of my heroine’s story in favor of my hero’s. I hate cutting. I’m terrible at it. I jumped in anyway. Guess what? I had so much fun getting acquainted with my hero I didn’t want to stop. He actually turned out to be a pretty cool guy – though not nearly as perfect as what he seemed to be from my heroine’s eyes. I enjoyed it so much I was done revising my first book within a week. A week! That’s all it took. Of course I had some sick days and snow days thrown in there and I’ll probably have to go back to work eventually so the others won’t go as fast, but still. There’s reason for my scissors to plow forward. I can hardly wait to get connected with my other heros and find out more about what makes them tick. Sigh!  I’ll have those poor girls falling in love with them all over again in all kinds of different ways.

If anyone read my printed version of my first book from a few years back and picked it up to read it  today, you would not recognize it. Same story, same characters, told in a completely different way. But this is a good thing. And onward I go. 

Oh, btw, I will share more about this later when I have further info but check out this link and THANK YOU to all of you that voted!                   Family fiction contest

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