POV and Structure

I used to be a fly-into-the-mist writer.  These days, I’m taking those inspirational odysseys on blogs instead of books.  Watch me go…. or see if I crash and burn…

When we started this blog, we weren’t certain what kind of questions would interest our readers.  At the moment, it seems to be writing related questions, so I’ll take those as my guide today.

Kim asked about my approach to point of view. Actually, I think she’s better educated than I am and knows way more about this subject than I do.  <G>  (one of these days, I’ll figure out smiley face icons)  My approach to POV is one of those odysseys…I do what feels right.  And if it doesn’t work, I do it another way.  Probably not a satisfactory approach for those of you who prefer more organization.  Sorry.  Technically, I think the theory is that a scene should be set in the POV of the person most affected by the action.  Heck if I know who that is until I write the scene.  And since I sometimes like to have one character’s reaction immediately, I have been known to switch from one POV to another within the same scene—just once, mind you, or it gets confusing.

Which brings us to the subject of structure, which Cathy inquired about.  I think structure is great.  I wish I had some.  I mean it.  I really, really am trying to reform my mist-flying ways so I don’t have so much re-writing, but my imagination needs that word flow to let loose.  So I’ve found a compromise that requires I have a complete character sketch, a list of conflicts, and three emotional turning points to my plot before I jump into the pilot’s seat and take off.  I may have scenes in mind for those turning points, but sometimes, action happens and the characters run away with their own ideas, which are usually better than mine.  As long as I know what kind of emotional leap they have to take at those points, the story stays on track. 

Everyone, feel free to ask what you will.  We have no idea how this blogging business will work out, so we’re winging it right now.  Several of our members are out of town, but the stars said it was time to launch the blog, and from the number of responses we received our opening day, the stars were right.

So if you don’t get the answer you want this week, wait until next week!

Pat Rice, the Leo

12 thoughts on “POV and Structure”

  1. My current POV struggle is first or third person narrative voice, which I nearly resolved until a recent (to me) trend I’ve seen of authors using BOTH in the SAME BOOK! Yikes! Sometimes it actually works.
    I think shifting POV, even within a scene, is a good thing. I really like to know what both main characters are thinking. It isn’t disorienting if, as you said, you don’t shift more than once in a scene.
    It’s also comforting to know that successful authors struggle with chaos. It gives me hope for my writing.
    Thanks for an excellent post!

    Reply
  2. My current POV struggle is first or third person narrative voice, which I nearly resolved until a recent (to me) trend I’ve seen of authors using BOTH in the SAME BOOK! Yikes! Sometimes it actually works.
    I think shifting POV, even within a scene, is a good thing. I really like to know what both main characters are thinking. It isn’t disorienting if, as you said, you don’t shift more than once in a scene.
    It’s also comforting to know that successful authors struggle with chaos. It gives me hope for my writing.
    Thanks for an excellent post!

    Reply
  3. My current POV struggle is first or third person narrative voice, which I nearly resolved until a recent (to me) trend I’ve seen of authors using BOTH in the SAME BOOK! Yikes! Sometimes it actually works.
    I think shifting POV, even within a scene, is a good thing. I really like to know what both main characters are thinking. It isn’t disorienting if, as you said, you don’t shift more than once in a scene.
    It’s also comforting to know that successful authors struggle with chaos. It gives me hope for my writing.
    Thanks for an excellent post!

    Reply
  4. I, too, like to see what both characters are feeling in important scenes.
    As for 1st person narrative… for me it is more difficult to read. It seems to wear me out. So I tend to avoid those books. I have made at least one exception, though.

    Reply
  5. I, too, like to see what both characters are feeling in important scenes.
    As for 1st person narrative… for me it is more difficult to read. It seems to wear me out. So I tend to avoid those books. I have made at least one exception, though.

    Reply
  6. I, too, like to see what both characters are feeling in important scenes.
    As for 1st person narrative… for me it is more difficult to read. It seems to wear me out. So I tend to avoid those books. I have made at least one exception, though.

    Reply
  7. I appreciate the professional nod of approval to head-hop once in a scene. There are times it works best (e.g. when the h/h NEED to think/react to words or action as a revelation or to move the emotion forward.) The only other option is to write a short paragraph in the other’s POV to accomplish this.
    Your approach to structuring the emotional turning points is sound, as evidenced by your work. I have a slightly different approach, which requires this Leo (on the cusp of Virgo) to try and be a linear thinker, though it rarely works.
    Cathy

    Reply
  8. I appreciate the professional nod of approval to head-hop once in a scene. There are times it works best (e.g. when the h/h NEED to think/react to words or action as a revelation or to move the emotion forward.) The only other option is to write a short paragraph in the other’s POV to accomplish this.
    Your approach to structuring the emotional turning points is sound, as evidenced by your work. I have a slightly different approach, which requires this Leo (on the cusp of Virgo) to try and be a linear thinker, though it rarely works.
    Cathy

    Reply
  9. I appreciate the professional nod of approval to head-hop once in a scene. There are times it works best (e.g. when the h/h NEED to think/react to words or action as a revelation or to move the emotion forward.) The only other option is to write a short paragraph in the other’s POV to accomplish this.
    Your approach to structuring the emotional turning points is sound, as evidenced by your work. I have a slightly different approach, which requires this Leo (on the cusp of Virgo) to try and be a linear thinker, though it rarely works.
    Cathy

    Reply
  10. the first or third person POV is a real struggle. I have a “play” book I’m working on that has raised this debate. My agent believes third person is more marketable (as evidenced by Denise’s remark above), but this particular book is very egocentric and screams for first. First person creates no end of problems, starting with verb choice–past or present? And then one can only see a scene through that person’s eyes, which is tough for personal description and emotions for other characters (notice how many mystery sleuths have this strange ability to read people’s eyes?).
    Both my editors would fall to their knees and sing hallelujah if I could become a linear thinker. But I have to circle a question and examine it from all sides before proceeding, and it makes all concerned insane!
    Pat

    Reply
  11. the first or third person POV is a real struggle. I have a “play” book I’m working on that has raised this debate. My agent believes third person is more marketable (as evidenced by Denise’s remark above), but this particular book is very egocentric and screams for first. First person creates no end of problems, starting with verb choice–past or present? And then one can only see a scene through that person’s eyes, which is tough for personal description and emotions for other characters (notice how many mystery sleuths have this strange ability to read people’s eyes?).
    Both my editors would fall to their knees and sing hallelujah if I could become a linear thinker. But I have to circle a question and examine it from all sides before proceeding, and it makes all concerned insane!
    Pat

    Reply
  12. the first or third person POV is a real struggle. I have a “play” book I’m working on that has raised this debate. My agent believes third person is more marketable (as evidenced by Denise’s remark above), but this particular book is very egocentric and screams for first. First person creates no end of problems, starting with verb choice–past or present? And then one can only see a scene through that person’s eyes, which is tough for personal description and emotions for other characters (notice how many mystery sleuths have this strange ability to read people’s eyes?).
    Both my editors would fall to their knees and sing hallelujah if I could become a linear thinker. But I have to circle a question and examine it from all sides before proceeding, and it makes all concerned insane!
    Pat

    Reply

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