Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Talkin' To Myself: What's Your POV?
Something strange occurred to me today, or maybe it isn't. After tearing apart a manuscript and re-writing it from the ground up, I've noticed something: It's all in one point of view.
Good thing or bad, that's the question. On one hand keeping the story strictly with one POV limits length. After all, with only one person's view, it cuts down on what everyone else is thinking, right? But then on the other hand, the reader might want to know what the other characters think.
Yet another dilemma writers face, at least, this writer. As if we don't have enough to think about already. Oh well. Such is the nature of the beast.
I never thought much about how many POV's to add to a story before, mainly because I used everyone. No wonder my manuscripts hovered around 150,000 words. And now that I think about it, if I revise any of them it might not be a bad idea to shave off a few POV's. But, I find that writing with only one POV is a lot like talking to yourself, which feels a little lonely in a weird sort of way for the character as if he's invisible to all the characters surrounding him.
This POV dilemma surfaced recently while reading Jeff Lindsey's "Dexter" series. Each one is in Dexter's POV only. I never got a strong grip of anyone else in the story. Showtime developed a series based on "Dexter" but the story was expanded to include the lives of other characters we met in the books. Of course, if they hadn't it might not be as wildly successful. It might not fill an hour every Sunday night.
But as far as writing the story, when does one know how many POV's to include? Now that I'm considering the question, other novels I've read recently come to mind that had only one POV. And now I wonder if editors might suggest eliminating certain character's POV as a way of making the story pace breeze along. I have to admit, the one I'm writing now does move along, but the question remains. How to decide what to do?In a way using one POV doesn't make the reader feel involved. And what if the reader doesn't care for the main character? They have no one to fall back on or otherwise endear them to the story.
I'm sure if I looked in one of my handy "How To Write a Novel" guides, I'd find the answer. But, this is more fun. I want others to consider the POV situation. Anyone write all their stories with just one POV, or do you alternate? One thing for sure, when writing in one POV there is no danger of head-hopping.