Deciding on POV--Point of View--can be tricky, at least for me.
The most convention in romance novels for POV shift back and forth between the two (or more) protagonists, usually in close third person. (Close third person has been the preferred POV for a while now. It allows the reader to experience the world sitting on the protagonist/s shoulder/s, but without the limits of first person, where we can only see/hear/smell/taste/touch what the first person narrator does because with third person, even close third person, the author can “pull back” and give her readers a wide-angle view of the scene. She can draw attention to things her protagonist doesn’t necessarily see—although some people would say that’s breaking the rules. I break a lot of rules.)
I’m coming at this assuming that most people know what I mean when I say things like first person, third person, but just in case it’s been a few years since Composition 101, let me clarify.
- First person: I couldn’t believe I was out of eggs again. Off to the store I went to get more.
- Third person: Jimmy was out of eggs again. He went to the store to buy more.
- Second person: You were out of eggs again. You went to the store to buy more.
- It is exceedingly rare to find novels written in the second person.
- Close third person: Jimmy couldn’t believe he was out of eggs again. Off to the store he went to get more.
Throughout my fanfiction writing career, I got dinged for “head hopping”—which I cheerfully admit that I did.
Head hopping is jumping indiscriminately back and forth between main characters (note that I make the distinction between main—i.e. important—characters and the bevy of side characters that fill out the background. It’s downright careless to jump into the head of everyone who walks onto the page; the only heads that matter are the heads of the people the reader is expected to care about. In most cases, that does not include the letter carrier, the paperboy, or the teller at the bank). The trick to getting head hopping “right” (and it is rarely right in the world of published fiction) is to always make it clear whose head you’re in. It’s also nice to not shift back and forth too fluidly (although sometimes in romance this works really well. I don’t do it myself, but I love reading it, particularly when the story starts out with very clear blocks of This Person’s POV and That Person’s POV and after they start to fall in love the author shifts seamlessly back and forth from paragraph to paragraph. I find it very symbolic of the relationship growing and the men—since m/m is what I read—coming together.)
And if you’ve read my second novel, you’re probably wondering what happened, why everything that happens happens only in Jason’s POV. My third novel (due out Sept/Oct 2013) is the same way. It’s told exclusively from Pasha’s POV.
I started writing Bound with alternating POVs, but I found that most of what I was writing was in Jason’s POV, Henry just wasn’t getting much page time. (I’ve had some real fun re-writing a few scenes in Henry’s POV). Writing from Jason’s POV just worked for me.
Writing Hanging by the Moment in strictly Pasha’s POV was an intentional decision that I made at the onset. I didn’t care if the readers knew going on that Daniel was HIV positive, but I didn’t want them “discovering it” until Pasha did, and there was no way Daniel could go through a first date with Pasha without thinking about his status.
Right now, I’m clacking away on a book called Strings and wrestling with POV (oh yeah, and it’s due in like a week! Okay, so it’s going to be a little late… I’m actually making good progress, it’s just a matter of the POV question weighing me down). Part of the issue is that I want to get into Andy’s head, it’s just not a real comfortable head to be in. Andy is a near-homeless 18 year old prostitute who indulges in ecstasy (although I’m given to understand the “hip” term these days is “molly”, at least on the rave scene), and self-injures. Getting into his head is difficult for me and not because I’ve never done any of those things. Writers write about things they’ve never been or done all the time, it’s part of the art of crafting fiction.
So I’m struggling with what will make the better story, allowing the readers to discover Andy’s life (his past, his present, his vices) as Dillon does, or letting us all into the dark places in the head and heart of a kid who was kicked out of his house because he’s gay.
Just like I’m donating a portion of the proceeds from Hanging by the Moment to HIV/AIDS awareness, I’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds from Strings to homeless LGBT youth, because it’s another one of those heart sickening situations and one that is all too real.
And that’s the real reason I’m struggling writing Andy—and the reason I’m writing this blog instead of working on the novel. Blogging as therapy. Yup. It works!
I just chopped 20K words. Yikes.
Okay time to get writing!