Changing Point of View

Changing Point of View: Arizona LandscapeWhen I accepted the fantasy novel challenge, I didn’t bargain on changing point of view at the end of drafting Book One. To make the effort worth while, this has to be a series, but who is at the centre?

Plotting Book Two I realised I was drawn to the secondary character, a young woman with a difficult back story and special abilities. She was far more interesting than the grumpy Western gunfighter (sword-slinger) of Book One. So I switched Point of View. And stayed with her for the plotting of Book Three. The obvious was staring me in the face.

Dirty draft complete, I put Book One in the virtual drawer for a month.

Editing Book One, that nagging thought came back. She’s a far more complex, compelling character than he is. Her PoV makes a far better story than the old-guy-with-skills we’ve seen so many times before.

Conclusion: re-write. New PoV: Jo steps up, front and centre. It’ll take some work. But it will be a better book.

Who’s PoV is it Anyway?

Assuming the plot is sound and whatever happens, happens, and you’re not using multiple points of view, then there’s a couple of questions to ask:

  • Who is the most important character in the story?
  • Who is best placed to narrate and comment on the action?

Usually you want to be right on the protagonist’s shoulder. It took me a while to acknowledge my protagonist wasn’t the character I thought when I started.

I’m always drawn back to The Great Gatsby and why Fitzgerald chose to have an independent narrator and not tell the thing from Jay Gatsby’s perspective. It works in that Gatsby remains this dark, slightly sinister, morally dubious character and something of an enigma, whereas telling it from Gatsby’s perspective would strip away that mystery.

Great Expectations wouldn’t be the same book if it were told from Estella’s PoV (fascinating though that would be).

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