Another POV for Point of View

Pat raised this topic in her first post, and since she’s heard from several others on the mysteries of point of view, I’ve decided to offer my own experiences. I suspect every one of us Wenches could contribute a different perspective, and with different conclusions, too.

When I wrote my first book, I didn’t know the term “point of view”, nor would I have recognized it if it tripped over my keyboard. I let every character have his or her say –– not just the hero and heroine, but all their family members, friends, rivals, and just about anyone else who wandered along. Even the keeper of the tavern where the hero and heroine paused for refreshment (and probably for a break from all that talking around them) had a short speech, reflecting on the weather, the beauty of the heroine, the quality of the horses in the yard. . . well, you get the idea.

But imagine my shock –– my horror! –– when my masterpiece finally caught the eye of an editor whose first suggestion to me was to cut out the extraneous pov’s. Hauling out the word-machete, I went to work, cutting and slashing out all those extra voices. Not surprisingly (well, ok, back then I was surprised), the story tightened up and became much more focused in the process. It’s not easy for writers to admit, but there are times when editors are RIGHT.

So I learned my lesson. My historical romances are now limited to the heroine’s point of view, and her hero’s with it. To keep things interesting, I usually add a lesser pov for the villain/antagonist as well. I try to limit myself to one head per scene so readers don’t have to keep jumping, too.

Recently I’ve ventured into writing fictionalized historical biography, where first person is the current “voice of choice”. What a challenge, as both Pat and Susannac noted! My heroine, Sarah Churchill, the first Duchess of Marlborough, had to be in every scene, either as a witness or a participant. All action and description had to be colored through her sensibility and opinions, and other characters could exist only in relation to her. Even harder was conveying a sense of passing time through that single voice; my story covered forty-five years, and through Sarah’s words alone, I had to express the changes in her as she aged from a young teenager to a grandmother, from a favorite at court to a bitter outcast in exile. Yet it was an enjoyable challenge, too, one I’d recommend as a “break” from more traditional narrative.

So what’s left, you ask? Only second person, the final frontier. You never know. Before you know it, you may end up as a character in your own book.


Now it’s my turn to welcome you all to the Word Wenches parlor.  I’m one of The Susans here, Susan King, also writing as Sarah Gabriel (so I’ll be Susan Sarah — it will be easy to tell the difference. Susan Miranda is taller, trust me).
Pat and some others were talking about writing methods, so I’ll pick up on that thread and describe my general process (maybe another Wench or two will chime in with their approaches. For every writer, there’s a different method and a unique Muse).
Structure? Whuzzat?
I start with a nugget idea (where that comes from is anyone’s guess, and fodder for future posts), and then I come up with an outline that leads to a synopsis. With a notebook or notecards to keep stuff all in one place (I’m paper-challenged, though I did take graduate courses such as Writing Stuff on Notecards 601), I start listing ideas, character traits, conflicts, whatever I can think of. Oh, and there’s research, lots of lovely historical research. Yum.
This is the stage that’s the slow climb up the mountain, wheels creaking…
When I start writing, it’s slow at first, with all that thinking and note-scribbling going on, but it snowballs. Despite every intention to Be More Organized This Time, eventually I’ve had enough of structure. Tolerance level reached.
By the end I am rushing down Story Mountain at breakneck speed, writing 10, 20, even 30 + pages a day. I’ve lost that outline and tossed the lists out the window. I’m happiest working late at night when the characters are walking and talking on their own, and solving story problems without the aid of outline or idea list…my fingers are racing over the keyboard, and I can blithely ignore my sons and husband (are there any clean socks? who’s going to the grocery store? OK we’re ordering out again….).
Thankfully, the subconscious is a remarkable thing, and the foundation work I did in the beginning is still there, and has been hard at work on its own, so that the story comes together in sometimes surprising ways.
And then I clean up the place and start all over again: ideas, outline, research, slow creaking climb up the mountain….
I’m not sure what use this is to other writers, since we are all so different, but there it is: my method, nurtured years ago when I pulled all-nighters in art history graduate school, and discovered that I did better writing thirty and forty page papers in the middle of the night, a day or so before they were due, than writing papers in more logical ways. And I enjoyed the process more.
I am right-brained. What can I say. Is there a treatment for that?
Susan Sarah

I Idyll in Maine while Wenches work

The wanderer returns.

My thanks to the Wenches for doing all the heavy lifting of getting the blog going while I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world, gazing at the ocean and stunning sunsets, watching ospreys catch fish and mama seals bring lunch to their offspring.  On Sunday night, while the Wenches were hard at work, preparing for the blog’s grand opening, my husband and I sat in companionable silence watching the beautiful fire he’d made.

No, this is not my usual life style, and yes, I was rusticating.  In Downeast Maine(please somebody, explain what “Downeast” means, because when I look on the map, it’s up, as in north) on one of those tiny inlets within an inlet (or whatever those of maritime knowledge call them).  I know that it’s part of a body of land called the Blue Hill Peninsula and it’s not far from Bangor.  Beyond that, mainly what I know is bliss.  The place belongs to a fascinating family whose patriarch Stan Waterman is a famous underwater photographer.  I am currently reading his memoirs, SEA SALT, and I’m all agog.  That is, when I’m not laughing.  He is a wonderful writer.  Even someone like yours truly–whose knowledge of matters nautical is very close to nonexistent, and has only the dimmest idea of what is going on during Jack Aubrey’s maneuvers at sea–must take joy in an author who not only loves what he does but writes about it so captivatingly, who clearly loves books and the wonders of the English language and all the authors who’ve made music of it.

And so, amazingly enough, this turned out to be about writing after all.

Yours truly,