You never know when a writing skill will prove useful.
Just this morning, my beloved bestie critique partner, Mel asked me to read her latest WIP (work in progress). Of course, I couldn’t say YES fast enough. That’s how you know you’re a good match…you look forward to reading what they’ve been working on. I’m fortunate right now to have a few CP’s like that and well, you guys know. It takes a lot to really click with a CP so when you do, you’re like all yay and stuff!
Anyway, the WIP I’ll be reading is multiple POV and I’m so excited to dive in! I’ve read multiple POV middle grade books before and I love them. A recent favorite was YOU’RE INVITED by Jen Malone, which is by the way, a really cute book. It’s so middle grade and so well done—using 4 POVs! I also just finished the BFF BUCKET LIST by Dee Romito, which is written using a dual POV and also a fantastic middle grade read.
I’ve actually been toying with writing a multiple POV myself, or going back to one I had already written. Years ago, before THE CRIMSON FIVE books were even a thought, I wrote a middle grade contemporary based on three best friends. The friendship story of a boy and two girls was my first attempt at multiple point of view and at the time, I thought this type of POV would fit the story well. It had a lot of action, several subplots, and a main plot that tied all three characters together.
What I learned from writing that story was a lesson in POV. In turns out, an omnipresent narrator may have been a better choice. Why? Well for one, I’m not sure now that the reader needed (or would have wanted) to be deep in the head of all three characters—which is the primary reason to use it. The story could have moved along quite nicely without it.
Besides that, the two female characters were WAY too much alike. And while this is a problem in any story, it’s stands out even more in a multiple POV manuscript. A reader should be able to tell whose chapter it is, just by the way the prose is written. Of course voice has a lot to do with that too, and the problem in my case may have had more to do with voice than POV. That manuscript had A LOT of problems so that’s certainly possible.
My point is that it’s important to have a really good reason to write your story with multiple POVs. For example, do you need to get inside each character’s head for the plot to work? Do you need to know their thoughts, their feelings, their motivations—in equal parts? If the answer is yes, then a dual or multiple POV story is the way to go. Just be sure to make each of the characters unique enough, and have their own strong character arc and motivation so they deserve equal billing. If not, a single POV may be the way to go.
So thanks to my critique group at the time, even though my multiple POV story fell flat, I learned a lot about why it fell flat and what I needed to do to redeem it. Knowledge of writing this way has made my writing stronger—even when my plot involves a single point of view character.
One day soon I’ll be sharing an excerpt of THE CRIMSON FIVE: Spin the Golden Light BULB. I spent a lot of time on that manuscript, in the very beginning, trying to decide what POV would work best. I was certain it had to revolve around 5 eleven year-olds. What I wasn’t certain of was how to do it. Should I write 5 POVs? (Yikes!) Should I write it in third person with an all knowing omnipresent narrator—like the MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, which involves 4 main characters?
In the end though, one character out of the five resonated more with me than the others. And to be honest, was easier to write. So I opted for a single point of view story told from one of the five kid’s perspective, in very close first person. That way the reader knows what she’s thinking at all times and we get a unique perspective of the other kids from her point of view. We also see how she thinks the other kids respond to each other—all because it’s her point of view.
Someday I’d love to write a multiple POV story, but for this one it just didn’t work. So for now, I’ll gladly read books by those who do it well…and offer feedback to my CP’s when they need it! I’m just glad I tried my hand at it before I took on the challenge of offering feedback. Hopefully what I have to say will be worthwhile:)
Don’t forget to check back later in the week. I’ll be posting another Q&A from the Writers Around the World series. It’s a great one…you won’t want to miss it! I’d love to add more writers to the series too, so if you’re interested, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t need to be published or even have an agent to participate. If you write, you’re qualified and we’d love to get to know you!
Have a great Monday, my friends. As always, if you have tips on POV to share, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear from you!