I would like someone's feedback, opinion, experience on the question of POVs. I recently gave the first fifty pages to a friend who is a professional editor. I agree with almost all of what she suggested except on pov.
My (first) novel is an historical murder mystery. All characters and major events are in the historical record and as the plot thickens, we find it encompasses several different countries and governments. It takes place over 80 years. So with all this, I couldn't even think about who would be able to first person narrate. The victim is the main character but she meets her final reward in the middle of the book. Don't want to 'narrate from the grave' route, and besides, she wouldn't know about all the intrigue.
Soooo, I chose omniscient narrator who I believe can read the internal goings on of all the characters during each scene. In fact, it is almost the big point of the book - at any given time, in any given situation - there are multitudes of internal opinions, judgments, going on. I used to be a professional actress so this is actually a very easy thing for me to embody characters. I also read a lot of cognitive brain research and have a little understanding of the "what makes them tick". (PS - Short answer: habitually supported thoughts)
Here is the question. My friend the professional editor says if I mix up povs no publisher will even consider it. Is this a rule that I should know about? I am new to writing. I have read other discussions on She Writes concerning pov but am not clear. Got a minute to advise someone who is kicking and screaming at the prospect of rewriting all of her 90,000 words?
You're not mixing up POV's. You're writing in omniscient POV which means you see all all the knowledge. Usually there is a single narrator who tells what's going on and gives the information on the characters. None of the characters are the narrator.
I say don't rewrite it. There's no point. You might need to edit it to make it more clear that it's omniscient, but it's a perfectly valid POV and you can use it if you want. Your editor just might not have realized it's omniscient.
Have you considered a beta reader or two or three to get their opinion about confusing?
It's a bit ambiguous as to how you are doing the point of view. I assume that you're just doing an omniscient perspective and you're narrating in the same style and syntax. That is, the way you write per character is the same, you just happen to write about different emotions. However, if you're doing this and getting into a stream-of-consciousness sort of style, where you're prose dramatically changes for each person you're showing (not just what they think, but how they think), then it gets more complicated. I doubt you're doing anything like James Joyce's Ulysses, but even starting to get creative with the way you present different character's thoughts might scare conventional genre publishers.
Ultimately though, changing POV isn't something that's impossible to publish. It it were legitimately changing, and doing so in a drastic way, you could still get a publisher's attention, they'd just have to be a literary fiction publisher.
Omniscient POV is a a time-tested style. I'm a former screenwriter turned fiction author, so I use omniscient in cinematic flow, and never had a editor tell me that about my books. If you make distinct breaks between characters, scene and narrator that shouldn't be a problem.
I wonder if you're "headhopping." That's slang for skipping from inside one character's head to another character's head in the same scene revealing each character's thoughts and emotions. It's frowned on as being confusing to readers. Here's more information. http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/headhop.shtml
Without seeing your manuscript, it's hard to say if you're guilty of this. Perhaps if you read some examples of head hopping, you'll understand if that's what your friend is advising against.
While omniscient POV is indeed "time tested," I understand that it is currently less popular. That doesn't mean you can't use it. Just be sure you use it well.
Thanks for the link. I read it and the link of the link. If I knew at the beginning what I did not know, I would not have started this project! But that's the way I seem to roll -- dive in head first then think if there are rocks below the surface.
I so appreciate your time here, and everyones. I will keep reading all these wonderful suggestions.
Hi Susan! I am writing a novel with multiple points of view. For everyone who commented in my MFA workshops that I was committing hara kiri, there were others who suggested I read some books by authors who did the very same thing. Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatge was one.
It was nice of your friend to read it for you, but I'd keep after it. Look for agents. At some point stop showing it to family and friends (some people say NEVER show it to family and friends, and I agree), and get an agent you trust at a gut level. Whatever you're doing, it's been done and it can work. Keep going!
Hi Kate Cone,
Yes there is something in me that screams "You can't make me!" when told I must color within the lines. But as I mature, (I can tell by the gray hair) I am starting to think that maybe some lines are okay. Actually the person who looked at my first 50 pages is a friend AND and professional editor and was very gentle in her feedback. After reading some of these comments I realize how much she really does know about the business, and how much I do not. I think that is called "learning".
Thanks for your time, Kate. Isn't SW a wonderful tool?
In my endless research on writing...instead of actually writing, ahem...I found this article on POV helpful. POV is a pesky, little creature and is just one more thing to drive us all to drink. Good luck with your final draft.
Thanks, Tyra. I found this article helpful. He says, though, shifting POV's can work, but not in the same "frame." I signal a shift now (this may change if it gets published and goes through an editor) by labeling the flashbacks with: "Ireland" and the year the action took place. For my working draft, it helps.
I like what this guy says. He leaves the door open, more or less, to a "whatever works" frame of mind while at the same time reigning it in a bit. BTW, what are you drinking? Will you share?
Funny! If I can wiggle the wine cellar key out of my husband's pocket without his knowledge, it will be a Cabernet. That may be impossible. Hee. Glad you enjoyed the article.
Glad you enjoyed the article too, Kate.