Hi there kids and kidettes,
It’s Monday Musing time again, and todays topic just happens to be inspired by a recent guest post from Aimie K. Runyan on multiple POV’s, from one of my all time favorite writer sites, Writers In the Storm, at: (http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/01/10-tips-to-writing-from-multiple-povs/).
Ms. Runyan’s post caught my eye because my novel in progress indeed falls into this complicated, yet fulfilling category, with multiple characters telling the story and moving the plot forward with their own unique quips and quirks, and hopefully, keeping the reader engaged invested in turning the pages far past their alloted bed times.
Case in point: just check out this Scooby pic:
Don’t know about you, but the one thing I recall is that each and every one of them wanted to uncover and take credit for figuring out the “who” in the “who done it” part of the game. Sure, they started every show as a collective we. Loaded up in the Scooby van driving to wherever their mystery of the day might take them. But once there, they always split up, no? Giving us scenes, from you guessed it, multiple Pov’s.
Case in point:
First, we’d usually get serious Fred, all orange Ascot and arms crossed Rambo style in front of his chest, scowling as he deduced the nature of the crime (single pov). And most of the times he’d be accompanied by Daphne, the ginger haired Barbie, and off hot on the trail of the bad guys. (another separate pov chapter). That is, when Daphne wasn’t busy playing damsel in distress, getting kidnapped, tied up or gagged, (a whole separate pov) in which case usually Scooby and Shaggy (yet another pov scene) would fly in to the rescue from some other scene where snacks of all conceivable shapes and sizes preoccupied the moment. Or sometimes it was Fred, who’d swoosh in to save the day hot off a solo scene from tracking down villains or ghosts (main detective pov). And of course, we can’t forget about Thelma, intelligent, reporter girl Thelma, interviewing potential suspects and witnesses, usually solo (yet again, another reporter, cop pov.)
Thanks for indulging my digression into retro cartoon mania. But, there’s a point to it all (hint: multiple points – haha).
And as Ms. Runyan points out in her post, beauty can be achieved in the magic of cohesion, as long as it’s pulled off well. Right now I’m writing my first go at a multiple pov novel, and it makes my Scooby example but a paltry simplified version of the real thing and of Ms. Runyan’s musings. And since I couldn’t begin to state it better myself, here are the main highlights from her “10 Tips to writing multiple POV’s”:
(her original full post can be found at: http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/01/10-tips-to-writing-from-multiple-povs/):
“These are some of the methods I used to weave three separate narratives into one cohesive story:
- Start with archetypes. “The person obsessed with solving problems is going to address issues differently than the person combing the world for inspiration for their next poem. You want to make sure your POV characters have a different enough world view to make it worth the hassle of writing from more than one POV.
- Diverge from those archetypes. There is no person so simplistic that you can simply write them off as a two word personality type. Your character has likes, dislikes, needs, wants, and a past that shapes how they deal with reality. Making a rich character will make it easier for your reader to parse who is speaking.
- Make sure each chapter or section advances the plot. Telling the same scene over again simply to get another character’s take is tedious…forward motion is key. Choosing one character to focus on and begin the story…then giving the other characters’ ‘pivotal moments’ in bite-sized chunks of back story… for a much more compelling read.
- Make sure each main POV character gets enough “screen time” to make us care… It shouldn’t feel lopsided. We also shouldn’t go so long away from any one main POV character that we’ve lost track of where they are… I made several passes through my manuscript to ensure each main character was at least mentioned if they were ‘offscreen’ for a whole chapter, and tallied up their word counts to make sure there wasn’t a huge disparity…
- In addition to strong characters, your voice for each must be on point. Pet expressions, gestures, vocabulary limitations, and more are key in keeping your POV characters distinct. … This is important, even when not dealing with multiple POV, but absolutely essential when you are. ..
- In most cases, it’s great to show one main POV character from the eyes of another… Let the other characters show us another angle on the truth. I loved showing my insecure character through the eyes of her friends. She was much more capable than she ever recognized.
- If you are travelling between different time periods in a dual narrative, make sure the language, setting, props, and more all fit the eras so as to keep the narratives separate. It’s easy to slip…
- Make sure that if you have a large number of main POV characters that you achieve a satisfying story arc for all of them in addition to an overreaching story arc. Each main character deserves a fully fleshed-out storyline, and for this reason, multiple POV books tend to be longer…
- Make sure you make transitions from POV character to POV character smoothly. Titling a chapter heading with the POV character’s name is very common. You can also shift from scene to scene in a chapter if you are very distinct with your voice, but this does not mean “head-hopping” willy-nilly within a scene. Stick with one character for a logical chunk of the story.
- The golden rule: Do not use multiple POVs for the sake of using multiple POVs. If you can tell your story without the shifts, do so.
So, that’s it for today folks. But I leave you with a question:
What are you working on? Does it have multiple POV’s? And how’s it working out for you?
Luv to hear your thoughts!
Ciao for now, and darkly yours,
(much thanks to Aimie K. Runyan and Writers in the Storm; and the post, 10 Tips to Writing from Multiple POVs | Writers In The Storm.)