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It’s been a long summer for me. Health issues among my loved ones have twisted my personal life up. Lots of emotion, lots of drama. And it’s not over yet.
At the end of July, I told myself that I needed to get back in the saddle, finish my WIP. I had 25-30K left to get to the end of the first draft, completely doable in a month and a half if I put my nose to the grindstone. I generally write about 5K a week, so I figured if I settled in through August and into Sept, I could finish by my vacation (the week of Sept 12). That was the tentative goal.
I wrote some. About 10K. But last week, as I was reading through that 10K, something was way off.
It didn’t speak to me. Didn’t reach in and grab my heart like it needed to.
I grumbled. I pondered. In general, I stopped writing for a couple days and just stared at the screen with my face all scrunched up.
There was the story, the plot I wanted to tell. Even the stuff happening was pretty compelling, I thought. It just felt… FLAT.
And then, after a couple of days of silence, it struck me. It wasn’t the story that was the problem. It was the narrator.
In each of the scenes I’d written, I’d chosen the wrong narrator. There were 8 scenes. That’s a lot of mistaken point of views.
I can only assume that at the time, for the most part, I didn’t want to play in the more painful point of view. Or, if I did, the emotions were off, either too little or too much. I spent this past week flipflopping point of views and it reads a lot better now. I even got moving forward again.
But the whole experience really highlighted how important it is to get the narrative point of view right. And sometimes the best choice for the narrator isn’t the character that is hurting. Sometimes the best choice is the character doing the damage. For example, here’s a snippet. This is from my hero’s point of view as my heroine is begging him not to put his life in danger.
“It’s too much, even for all of you. We need to think this through. We need a better plan.”
“We?” He snorted. “There is no we here. This is my show, Sarah.”
She jerked as if he’d slapped her. He heard Cass suck in a ragged breath, but he didn’t look at him or Ice, just watched the play of emotions on Sarah’s face, in her eyes. Shit. That didn’t come out right at all. His fists clenched.
“I see,” she whispered and those two little words ripped his chest open.
He softened his voice, vowing that when this night was over, he’d make this all up to her. Somehow. “This isn’t about us. This is about me going after Cartwright. Maybe the only chance we’ll have at him.”
It's pretty rough but I hope you get the what I mean. Initially I wrote this in Sarah’s POV and she paused at the “There is no we here” to do too much introspection, essentially to ponder her navel. It slowed things down. And I think this works as well, without the major existential meltdown.
So what do you think? How do you decide which POV to write each scene in, if you write 3rd? If you write 1st, how do you get around keeping the emotion from being too close or too far away? Any scenes in books you wish had been in a different POV or any authors that do this very well?