As I work like a mad woman on finishing this book, I'm faced with choices that sometimes stop me in my tracks. Which POV to write the scene in? Which way to take the scene? Sometimes I highlight all the wrong things; I summarize what should be explored and explore what could be summarized. I don't know why I do this. This may only be my second contracted book, but it's not the second book I've written.
They (the anonymous they) say you should write about a million words before you're ready to publish a book. I imagine that's pretty close to correct. My first novel was more than 150k, and that doesn't include all the rewriting I did. I probably wrote close to half a million on that sucker alone.
But I digress. Which is typical for me, LOL.
In SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE (Presents, August 2009), I specifically wrote one scene from the heroine's POV that is now, in the final version that will be in print (ahem, Aug 2009), in the hero's POV. I'm not sure why I decided it would work better that way. My editor didn't tell me to do it (not that she hasn't told me to do other things), but somehow in the rewrite that's what happened. And I liked it far better.
What I want to know, however, is HOW to figure out which POV to write the scene in in the first place. Common wisdom says to write it in the POV of the character with the most to lose; I've also written it in the POV of the character observing high emotion. Sometimes it's easier to show anguish through another's eyes than to live in the pivotal POV at that moment.
But man, I wish it was easier to figure out. Right now, I'm working on a scene that could be in either POV just as easily. It's highly charged emotionally no matter which character I'm with. So, I'm thinking about it. And I'll probably end up with two versions as I try them both. I hate doing that because it's writing the same thing twice. *sigh*
I find deciding which POV to use (when it’s not blindingly obvious) nigh on impossible. I read somewhere that if you’re dithering then it’s probably best to go with the heroine’s, but who knows.
Do you think it’ll get easier the more you write?
And you can't write it from both points of view because. . .?
Ok I know that for some people there are 'rules' and one of those rules that a scene can only be written in one POV and one only – and that the change of POV can only come at the end of a scene. Some people think that those rules are carved in stone – and probably etched in gold and if you ever break one then the heavens will open, the end of the world as we know it will arrive – and you will be struck down by lightning.
And I say – as all the editors always say "It's all in the execution". As one of my best and brilliant eds once said 'the only rule is to write in the way that makes it the best book you can- telling your story in the best way you can'. And for me if that means telling a scene from both POVs – and changing that POV within the scene to be with the person whose POV has the most impact at that moment, then I do that.
And you'll find that many great writers do – specially if they're edited from M&B Richmond. So maybe you can have both and not have to decide on one or the other.
Lucy, I hope it gets easier!! 🙂
Kate, you couldn’t have shown up with these comments at a better time. Because shortly after writing and scheduling this post, I went back to the scene and clearly saw where I could switch POV. I hemmed and hawed — and ultimately didn’t do it.
I *want* to be able to switch, but I’ve been a purist (in my own writing; I have no problem reading multiple) for so long that it’s a mighty big leap for me. But I know that if ever there was an opportunity to learn how to do it and do it well, it’d be writing for Presents!!! Because so many of you do it so well and so seamlessly, and no reader on this planet cares. It’s a writer dilemma, not a reader dilemma. And yes, I completely agree with you about rules!!
I’m not sure how I ended up with this one POV per scene mindset, but I’m sure it happened when I was a baby writer and someone explained head-hopping to me (which I was doing, and badly).
I also think part of the reason I write in one POV is, usually, it’s easier. Because when do you switch to the other character, etc? If you have a “rule” that you can’t switch until a scene break, you don’t have to make a choice. But maybe I’m growing and learning and coming to the point where I am *capable* of making a choice now.
Hmm, food for thought! Maybe I’m ready to move into changing POV because I’ve matured as a writer and will make good choices.
Thanks so much for the comment, Kate! It’s helped me to think a bit about this and see why I’m having problems. Maybe I’m ready for the leap. 🙂
The only advice I can give you, Lynn, is to go with your gut. You’ve read so many Presents that you’ll instinctively know what to do.
Listen to your inner voice. You won’t go wrong 🙂
I honestly don’t think much about which POV a scene needs to be in. Sort of organic, I guess. If I want both sides to a scene, I’ll usually break it in the middle and switch. I don’t swap back, but I will pick a pivot moment to swap it around.
That said, I know I tend to (subconsciously, at least) pick the POV based on the emotion, as you mentioned. Maybe its because I’m just not comfortable with emotion or feel like I can’t adequately capture what the character would be experiencing, but I always write it from the opposite side. If someone is freaking out, I’d rather write from the person’s POV watching them freak out than try to describe it.
That’s just me, though. I don’t think there are rules. Just do it how it works for you.