Using Multiple Points of View
For my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series I chose to tell the story from multiple points of view. Because, from the beginning, my goal for this series was to show how what’s going on at work affects the family, and what is happening with the family affects the job. What has emerged is this series has an entourage of characters, most appear in all the books, but different ones are featured in each one.
Using multiple points of view is also a good way to let the reader see different reactions to what is going on, and give them insights into more of the characters. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not telling you to use multiple points of view in a single scene.
I’m a stickler about point-of-view and believe there should only be one POV per scene. Whoever has the most at stake in a scene should be the one who is telling the story from his / her POV.
The best way to do this is think of yourself as the POV character and look out through his or her eyes. You will write what that particular person experiences, what he / she sees, feels, touches, hears, smells, and thinks about what is happening. Even the narrative should come from that person, so in effect, the narrative is that person’s thoughts.
This is exactly what you do when writing first person, except the whole story comes from a single person.
Though many people are now writing books with one chapter as first person and another from third, I haven’t tried that yet. If you do, make sure you have a good reason for it. Somehow the use of that tactic should enhance the story telling.
Always make sure the reader knows who is telling each part of the story. Make a page break between changes of POV and / or change of scene. Start the new scene in a way that the reader knows through whom eyes they are seeing the story unfold.
POV is probably one of the most difficult concepts for a new writer to learn. If you teach yourself to think like the POV character and experience what is going on through that person it will be far easier. Nothing is more jarring to the reader than all of a sudden realizing the author has jumped out of one person’s head and into another without any warning.
No matter what POV you decide to use, know what you’re doing and do it well.
🙂 Thank you, Marilyn.
F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels—and a few that will never see print. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is No Bells. Rocky Bluff P.D. is a fictional beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara and F. M. once lived in a similar beach area.
F. M. (Marilyn) is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves as the program chair for the Public Safety Writers of America’s writing conference. She’s been an instructor at many writing conferences.
In No Bells, the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Officer Gordon Butler is the major character. He’s been in many of the RBPD books, but this is his first “starring role.”
No Bells Blurb: Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem, she’s the major suspect in a murder case.
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The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with literary fiction novelist Ashley Mackler-Paternostro – three hundred and fifty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.