Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Posts Tagged ‘POV’

Respecting the POV

In ruminating, writing on June 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

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.

Hmmm …

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.


In Reading, ruminating, writing on February 20, 2011 at 9:14 am

I saw a unique and very telling review of a book the other day. It wasn’t a review of my book, but it was of a children’s book. The reviewer was evidently the parent of a young child and she said something along these lines:

She thought the book she’d read was clever and she really enjoyed it. But her six-year-old didn’t. And considering it was a picture book and her child was the intended audience, she rated the book accordingly; by giving it a one-star rating.

Think about it. She really enjoyed the book. She thought it was clever. She may even have given it a four or five-star rating, like so many adults before her had already done. But she didn’t. Instead, she chose to read and rate the book via the POV of the intended audience. 

And all I want to say to that is this: Thank you, mom of the one-star rating. You’ve given the opinion of the intended audience precedence. You’ve muted your own inclinations by turning up the volume on the voice that should be heard. And by doing so, you’ve shown that accurately determining the merit of  children’s books requires a lot more insight, wisdom, observation, and astuteness than some people may think. It requires us adults – especially writers of children’s lit – to reach beyond our familiar, if not pretentious, ways of thinking; to dig deeper than our own understanding; to step out of ourselves and view the world around us through the eyes of a younger generation, a generation that doesn’t see the same way we see. It has nothing to do with dumbing-down (*cough* Martin Amis *cough*) but has everything to do with creativity, exercising our intellect, increasing our worldview, making the most of and appreciating fully these wonderful things called words, and mastering the craft. All for the pleasure of an audience other than ourselves. There’s nothing easy or simple about that.

No one loves a one-star rating. But that one really shines.