Those of you who are my facebook friends knew this was coming, didn’t you?
Point of View.
How do we decide which POV to write in?
Drawing of straws?
Flipping a coin?
Eeny meeny miney moe?
No! Of course not!
But I did something far worse than any of the above, something far more unforgivable. In the eyes of my POV character, anyway.
I decided for myself.
At first glance that doesn’t look like a bad thing. Of course a writer has to decide which POV to use. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s your story, after all. Write it the way you want.
My current work in progress is a sequel and although the POV was to be written in a different voice, the voice of one of the secondary characters in book one, I didn’t think it would be a problem at all. I’ve spent literal years with my characters and could write any one of their life stories as easily as I could write my own. I know them that intimately.
But this book has been one of the most difficult, trying, frustrating things I’ve ever written. Ever. Why? Because I foolishly thought it was my story to tell the way I wanted to tell it.
You see, had I truly known this particular character as intimately as I’d thought, I would have known right from the beginning that there was no way in hell, heaven, or on earth that he’d willfully blab the events of his life to the world with his own voice. No way. But guess what? I was forcing him to. Just like a parent when questioned by their child, “But why do I have to?” I said, “Because I said so.”
SMUDGE’S MARK is written in Smudge’s first person POV. But he’s a different kid. He’s got a different personality. He fully cooperated with me, and even had fun doing it. So, I simply assumed Gil would too.
Anyone who’s got a second child knows that they are nothing, and I mean nothing like the first, even if they are the same gender. Quite possibly they are polar opposites and you wonder how it’s even possible these two beings came from the same womb.
That’s the way it is with Smudge and Gil. And had I known Gil as intimately as I’d thought I did, I wouldn’t have spent the last two years trying to make him something he’s not. The poor kid. I traumatized him. I forced him into a situation he’d never put himself into. But luckily for both of us, he dug in his heels and wouldn’t let up.
I am pleased to say that Gil and I are now patching up our relationship as I’ve let him off the hook. His story is now being told via a 3rd person POV and we’re re-filling the pages with a newly found freedom of expression. I have learned a whole new definition of the term “rewrite”. Aaaand I hope I’ve learned my lesson.
If you’re struggling with getting the story on paper, and you’re not writing your autobiography, maybe ask yourself this question: How did I land on this POV? If you chose it yourself, consider asking your characters who they think should be telling it. They’ll probably be right.