Squawk Radio

Friday, April 28, 2006

Connie Brockway, POV Slut, Spies a Hornet’s Nest and Gets Out Her Bat


You know why I’m a POV (point of view) slut? Because limiting POV to two characters bores me. ESPECIALLY in romances. Too often in limited narrative, the point of view characters do nothing but think about each other, and think about each other, and think about each –-every bloody time we’re allowed access to their thoughts–- until their internals represent the La Brea tar pits; Something interesting might work its way to the top but by the time it does it’ll be unrecognizable coated, as it is, by the preceding 300 pages of repetitive gluck.

And reading the pedantic shift of scene one, character one/ scene two, charter two, not only bores me, it makes me feels claustrophobic. The story for me becomes two people in a room, trading cards–-oops, internals-- in a two count rhythm. “You do something, I react. I do something; you react.”

For me, multiple viewpoints expressed within a scene add dimension. I love omniscient narrative, the technique of flitting from brain to brain in a group scene, siphoning off random impressions of an event and thus putting that event into a more universal perspective. This allows me the fun of “sitting on god’s shoulder.” Yes, popping around POVs in a scene can drain the emotional intensity from it, which is exactly the effect it is suppose to have –-giving the reader insight into the psyche of the main characters by allowing the her to see how the same event effects secondary characters. (Eloisa James did this to great effect in Midnight Pleasures)

Now I don’t advocate using multiple POVS in every scene, but they certainly work for me in “lighter” scenes, scenes where the stakes are minimal and the risks, both emotional and otherwise, are slight. In weightier scenes I try to keep to one POV so that the reader’s attention stays focused on the main event. At least so far...

Finally, it’s been so long since I was in grad school at the University of Minnesota –-for creative writing, not an English lit degree–-that we were still using styluses and yes, things may well have changed but I have to say this say: No one ever, ever said or implied that a writer should stick to one POV per scene. Of course, I could have been asleep during that class. The University years were good...

I love discussions on craft and I relish hearing reasons and rationale for why things are done in thus and thus a way. As long as it’s a discussion, it’s fun and exhilarating and sometimes even enlightening. But we should respect and believe everyone’s assertion that they are writing the very best books they can, using methods and structures that they have determined, through judicious and thoughtful consideration , to be the best.

So, where do you guys stand? Won’t pick up a first-person book on a bet? Love the intensity of tight Point of View? Find omniscient narrative distracting.? Would like to send a mail bomb to a head-hopping author? And why?
Connie Brockway, 9:41 AM
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