I am pleased to welcome S M Spencer to Fiction Favorites today. She is the author of Destiny, which is book one of the Absent Shadows Trilogy and she is on a 4 Wills Publishing Absent Shadows Tour. Welcome to Fiction Favorites,
Hello, and thanks for stopping by on my blog tour! I would like to thank John for having me here, and also 4Wills Publishing for organizing this tour for me. To see all the stops on the tour, check out their website:
HOW I CHOOSE POINT OF VIEW
A lot has been written about the various POV options, as well as the pros and cons of each. I’ve Googled the topic, read articles and a multitude of chapters in editing books and even so I find some of the discussions can get rather confusing. So, how do I go about choosing between the various POV options? Well, let me start with a simple definition and then I’ll tell you how I do it.
Works of fiction are narrated by a person (or sometimes an animal) that is telling the story. Point of view (“POV”) is, put simply, the perspective from which that narrator speaks.
So, who is the narrator of any given story? Is it a single character from within the story, or is the story told by more than one character? Or is the narrator not part of the story at all? Is the story to be told by an omniscient being with knowledge and understanding of all the characters? The decision as to who the narrator is determines whether there is a single viewpoint or a dual, multiple or omniscient viewpoint. The type of narrator can be first person (“I”) or third person (“he” or “she”).
So, armed with a definition, how did I choose? I put on my reader hat and thought about what books I’ve really enjoyed as a reader, and then I went back and had a look at how those books were written.
Take the Janet Evanovich books for example. Stephanie Plum is a sassy bounty hunter who I found it incredibly likable. These books are written in first person single viewpoint, giving us narrative like this snippet from Two for the Dough: “It was late October, and Trenton was enjoying the death throes of Indian summer. Ranger and I were squatting behind a hydrangea bush at the corner of Paterson and Wycliff, and we weren’t enjoying Indian summer, each other’s company, or much of anything else.” And it’s not just me that finds the character Stephanie Plum works well—the twenty-second installment of the series, Tricky Twenty-Two, is due for release later this year.
Another style of first person, first person present, is gaining popularity and can be found in books such as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. That book starts off with this: “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.” Everything that happens is happening right now—in the present—as the story is being told. I’ve read a few books written in this fashion, and while I find that the writing can seem somewhat abrupt initially, if the story is good enough I do settle into the style. However, I suspect it must take a great deal of concentration to consistently write in this style without slipping up.
I found a really interesting example of the use of first person in a book called Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan. In this story, there are several narrators, and each is written in the first person. Each chapter is clearly marked with the name of the protagonist whose voice we are hearing. The story progresses smoothly, changing between the six main characters without a hitch. This style provides incredible insight into each of the main characters, allowing the reader to really identify with each character. I would love to write a book using this method at some stage when I have the right story for it.
If you don’t want to write in first person, as in “I”, then there is third person. Narrated by “he” or “she” and considerable use of the character’s name, third person can have single, dual or multiple viewpoints. Third person dual viewpoint is often used for contemporary romance books as it allows for a much greater development of the hero. This provides greater insight into the feelings and motivations of both characters, not just the female protagonist.
Third person, multiple viewpoints is the technique used in Robin Cook’s Harmful Intent, an intense medical thriller. The story switched between the various characters flawlessly, providing the reader with insight into the motivation and personality of all the key characters—the good guys, the bad guys and the ones you aren’t sure about until the end. The POV changes weren’t always in new chapters either, but they were clearly identified by spacing, and use of the characters names in the course of the narration.
So, having said all that, how do I choose the POV for a particular story?
I answer the following questions. Is it best for the story to unfold through the eyes of one main character, knowing that the reader will only know what this main character knows? Or will the story work better if told from two or more viewpoints? Then I decide whether I would prefer to write in first person or third person. Again, going back over books I’ve read and liked helped with both decisions.
Another key factor for me in determining the POV to use is to keep the reader’s best interests in mind. It is crucial that the reader never be in doubt as to who is telling the story.
In writing the Absent Shadows trilogy, I chose a single point of view, being that of the main character, Lili. This was her story, told from her perspective entirely. As many of the other characters in the story were not human, I felt it best for the reader to see them as Lili saw them rather than to delve too deeply into their thoughts, desires, and motivations.
However, I am employing other POV’s with my current works in progress. One is a contemporary romance and is written in third person dual viewpoint. The other, which I am still struggling to categorise, is currently being written in third person with multiple viewpoints.
My advice to others would be to read articles and books to expand your knowledge but above all, keep it simple, and trust your instincts.
S M Spencer’s first series is called Absent Shadows Trilogy. To find out more about the series, and obtain free samples of each of the books, visit Amazon:
You can also follow her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SMSpencer.writer for advice about upcoming promotions as well as updates on the books she’s currently working on.
S M Spencer was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. As a young teenager, she was introduced to the world of romantic suspense through the works of authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. These books stirred in her a passion that would last a lifetime: to become a writer.Feeling the need to experience life before embarking on a writing career, Ms. Spencer completed a business degree. Her career eventually landed her in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived ever since.
SM Spencer now writes from her home in a semi-rural part of Australia, where she lives with her husband, horses, cats, and dogs.
Sometimes, when something bad happens, time seems to slow to a crawl.
Like that time, I was running to visit my friend who lived down the street. I was only about ten at the time, but it seemed like it was yesterday. I remember exactly how it felt as I ran down that street toward her house. And how, when I was only part way there, I stepped on an acorn and my foot rolled out from under me. As I fell, the pavement got closer and closer to my face—in horrible slow-motion. I hit the ground with my hands stretched out in front of me, scraping the skin off both palms. They barely bled but man they hurt like crazy.
Yes, I could replay that memory like a slow-motion movie in my head even now—years later.
But this … well, this wasn’t like that.
What happened next was like a series of still photos. Tom flew out of the bedroom in a blur, but stopped just long enough for the image of his face to be burnt into my mind. His eyes were no longer soft brown, but were instead a glowing red, and his normally tanned complexion was now pallid grey. But what really stood out was the blood that ran down from the corner of his mouth.
Then I heard Sam’s voice—loud and harsh. ‘Go!’
Tom was gone and I heard the door slam.
I closed my eyes for no more than a long blink—it couldn’t have been more than a second—but when I opened them, Sam was in the bedroom, bending over Claire. Was he doing something to her neck? She was so still.
I ran to the doorway but stopped short of going in. I couldn’t draw a breath to scream or talk. I just stood there, frozen.