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Whose POV? By Alison Stuart & Giveaways!

We invited author Alison Stuart this week and she's here talking about 'Whose Point of View?' Alison has a new release, EXILE’S RETURN.



WHOSE POINT OF VIEW?

In the opening scene of a book I picked up recently, the story begins in omniscient POV (the narrator) watching as the hero ascends the steps to a house, POV moves to the hero for two paragraphs, then to the footman, then to the heroine, back to omniscient and back to the hero. All of this in one short scene.

This wasn’t a contest entry or a first book – this was the umpteenth book by a well published author. Thinking it may just be an unfortunate aberration I ploughed on, but every single scene is the same… head hopping between the narrator and several characters. Sorry to say, but this was a DNF (did not finish).  And the reason I did not finish it? With all that head hopping firstly I couldn’t keep track of whose head I was in and secondly, and most importantly, I did not care enough about any of the characters (let alone the hero or heroine) to persist. The reason I did not care was because I never got a chance to get to know them, get into their heads, under their skin, see what they were seeing, feel what they were feeling…

And that is what point of view is all about. A good story puts you into the character’s skin and you become that character. This is even more important when you are writing a romance which is all about the relationship between two people. 
I’m the last one to lecture about ‘rules’ but in my opinion this is a simple ‘rule’ or guidance, particularly if you are just starting out on your writing journey. Unless you are supremely confident in your writing, Keep It Simple Sweetie (KISS) -  one point of view per scene is enough.
If you are writing a romance (even if you’re not!), the only two points of view the reader wants to see is that of the two protagonists – the hero and the heroine. One point of view character per scene.  Put yourself in the shoes of the point of view character. SHOW DON’T TELL. Guess what… he doesn’t care about his own ‘blue eyes’ but he does care about her grey eyes.  What can he see, smell, hear, touch?

But which character to use? The character who has the biggest emotional investment in the scene and if you find the scene is not working, switch the point of view to the other character and you may find seeing it through HER eyes makes the scene work a whole lot better.

If you must use the point of view of a third character, use it sparingly but consistently through the book. If Uncle Albert has an important role to play, feed little scenes with him (again in his POV alone)  from early on in the book, don’t save his point of view for one scene right at the end. Make him a part of the story arc, but not so as to detract from the two principal character.

But please, please do not head hop between characters in the same scene! (Or at least not unless your name is Nora Roberts)

ABOUT ALISON
Award winning Australian author, Alison Stuart learned her passion from history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. A past president of the Romance Writers of Australia, Alison has now published seven full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories.  Many of her stories have been shortlisted for international awards and BY THE SWORD won the 2008 EPIC Award for Best Historical Romance. 

Her inclination for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.

Readers can connect with Alison at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Alison’s latest book is EXILE’S RETURN, a stunning historical romance set in the period of the English Civil War.
England, 1659: Following the death of Cromwell, a new king is poised to ascend the throne of England. One by one, those once loyal to the crown begin to return ...
Imprisoned, exiled and tortured, fugitive Daniel Lovell returns to England, determined to kill the man who murdered his father. But his plans for revenge must wait, as the King has one last mission for him. 
Agnes Fletcher's lover is dead, and when his two orphaned children are torn from her care by their scheming guardian, she finds herself alone and devastated by the loss. Unwilling to give up, Agnes desperately seeks anyone willing to accompany her on a perilous journey to save the children and return them to her care. She didn't plan on meeting the infamous Daniel Lovell. She didn't plan on falling in love.
Thrown together with separate quests – and competing obligations – Daniel and Agnes make their way from London to the English countryside, danger at every turn. When they are finally given the opportunity to seize everything they ever hoped for, will they find the peace they crave, or will their fledgling love be a final casualty of war?



TO MARK THE RELEASE OF EXILE’S RETURN, ALISON IS RUNNING A CONTEST TO WIN A ‘GUARDIANS OF THE CROWN’ SWAG BAG. Enter by clicking HERE

17 comments:

  1. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one Alison. I think if an author head hops a reader picks up on this very quickly and expects it so when it does happen it's not so jarring. As long as you always know as a reader whose head your in then I don't mind it. (And I say this as a reformed head hopper :-) ) This is where so many fail. I agree with consistency and not hopping into minor characters POV's especially if it's not consistent.

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    1. I don't disagree with you, Amy! It can be done well but in the hands of a skilled practitioner, such as Nora. The example I gave was extreme but real and it killed the story for me.

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  2. Thanks for this lesson. If done well, I love reading all POV. But if it is jarring me, it throws me out of the story.

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    1. I agree, Olivia. It is good to get inside the heads of some characters but it has to be done well and sparingly - particularly in romance where the only characters who really matter are the H/H.

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  3. Nora Roberts does do it well, and it's something I did a LOT in my first writing attempt. An attempt that has since been fixed and subsequently shelved! :)

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    1. Oh, Jemi, so did I!!!! I cringe when I read my first attempts now. Multiple characters and head hopping all over the place. These days I do strictly keep myself to just the hero and heroine - although in my latest book a 3rd character did get a say but always in discreet scenes. NEVER head hopping in the same scene.

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  4. I'd be curious to know his reason behind his choice of POV. I know Faulkner's a challenge to read because of his time-hopping, but he has a purpose behind it and once you "get" that, you get the reason for his stylistic choice. Sorry you couldn't finish the book. That's always a bummer.

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    1. I certainly didn't get it! Yes one of the minor characters did take on a role later in the book but to be in his POV was unnecessary - IMO. It is a book with plenty of wonderful reviews so I am an outlyer which makes me think, readers are far less fussy about this then writers who are readers.

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  5. Head popping can definitely be hard to follow. How surprising that the book you DNF had this problem considering the author has written so many books. Definitely a great reminder to everyone to stay in character. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I so wanted to like the book, Jess. I hate not finishing a book but the story relied so much on the strength of the two protagonists that all the multiple viewpoints meant I just couldn't connect with them.

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  6. I’m reading a book just like that at the moment. The only difference is I would like to finish it because I’ve rather fallen in love with one of the characters! However, trying to sort one person from another is no fun, so I may well give up. It’s the kind of book I can happily leave for days on end so I don’t really know why I’m wasting my time.

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    1. What a shame, Barbara. My reading time is so precious that I think that's now my test - if a book can't hold my interest then that's it. Thank heavens for ebooks!

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  7. I'm not a fan of the third person omniscient POV either. I think it kills the mystery. If I know what everyone is thinking in a scene, there is no guessing for me. I want to decipher for myself the other characters' reactions.

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    1. Yes! SHOW the story, don't have some anonymous voice translating for you!!! That is the mark of good writing IMO!

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  8. I am not a fan of head hopping, like you said, I want to get to know the characters and if I don't get to know them, I don't care about them ♡

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    1. Absolutely... particularly in romance books. The reader has to crawl into the skins of the H/H and how can you do it if the author is hopping around all over the place!

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  9. Some head hopping books have been amazing and others have been either too swift or too shallow for me to sink in the characters, and I put those down.

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