POV – telling the right character’s story

The authors over at Splintered Lands are putting together a fantasy anthology set in their world (if you are interested in submitting, find the guidelines here) and they accepted my story. That is, they accepted a synopsis. Before I wrote the actual story. Which is great, except that I am the world’s worst procrastinator and self-sabotage agent. Having worked out the main details and got the idea accepted, could I write the damn thing? Huh.

I wrote two and a half thousand words before completely losing the thread. I had no idea where to go next. Surprising, considering I had a reasonably detailed synopsis in front of me and this was only a short story.

I couldn’t work it out. I was telling the tale from my female lead’s pov but how was I supposed to show what the man was thinking when his character was not supposed to be terribly forthcoming to anyone, least of all women. The story just stalled. I couldn’t work out how to tell the love story part in such a way as to show the intricacies of his life and hers and what this would mean for each of them without some extreme headhopping. Ugh. Hate headhopping.

Two things saved me. One was where I had been told a few things about Knights of the Broken Wheel, in particular the bit about him falling in love would possibly be frowned upon. Two was what someone said about pov – the story should be told from the point of view of the person with the most to lose.

I thought this was my poor works-behind-the-bar-but-would-much-rather-be-talking-to-horses female lead, but it wasn’t. It’s the guy whose identity rests on his status as a Knight, as a pure man. I had thought that I would start off with her and then switch to him, but that’s not right. From the beginning he will have to fight with himself to make this love happen.

Hello? Talk about no-brainer.

It’s not always easy to see whose point of view you should be using. Now that I look back at it, I really don’t know why I started with her. It seems so obvious now, but until I ground to a halt at 2,400 words I didn’t realise what the problem was.

In case you’re having issues, here are some things that should have tipped me off:

Couldn’t get into the lead’s mind
Couldn’t get backstory in without making the guy uncharacteristically chatty
Hadn’t thought who would have to change more
Hadn’t thought about who had the most to lose

I am almost embarrassed that I didn’t realise what the problem was until now. I say almost because I know this happens to other people. Hell, it happens to everyone. Now I have to get back to this story. Now that I have decided to tell it from my male lead’s point of view, he won’t shut up, constantly nagging about how it’s really not convenient for him to fall in love right now and do I know exactly what that would mean for him?

HA. The poor sap has no idea what’s coming.

For more information about point of view, have a look at Kristen Lamb’s post.

About Mhairi Simpson

Writer, dreamer. Magic, dragons, pink mice, cake. Come say hi!
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8 Responses to POV – telling the right character’s story

  1. Sonia M. says:

    Good advice. I was most of the way through my MIP when I realized I had to add a second POV. I didn’t want to but I knew it had to be done. No avoiding it.

  2. A.M. Kuska says:

    At least you caught it in time. 🙂 Imagine if you hadn’t!

  3. Ryan says:

    The POV of the character with the most lose… That makes a lot of sense. I do like my Splintered Lands lead… I guess he’s not going to like it when I raise the stakes on him

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