Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Writer's Wednesday --Dual Point of View
PHS Editor Michelle Styles why she loves writing in dual point of view rather than any of the other options available.
For many years, I wondered what sort of point of view I wrote my romances in. It wasn’t single person as I had both the heroine’s and hero’s point of view. Neither was it multiple (limited 3rd person or omniscient) as I only had the hero and heroine’s. Earlier this year when reading Elizabeth Lyon’s The Manuscript Makeover, I discovered the technical term for what I write (and indeed what most series romance are written in) – dual point of view.
The main advantage of a properly established dual point of view is that you do have the opportunity to explore two characters’ reactions in greater depth. A properly established dual means that you can go back and forth between the characters’ POV within a scene without pulling the reader of the book, particularly when both characters have everything at stake.
The key here is properly establishing the dual POV. And in order to do that you need to know that the reader is always looking for the main protagonist, the driver of the story if you will. Generally unless given a good reason, the reader will glom on to the first POV character as the main protagonist. This is particularly true IF the first scene is a long one. Sometimes though, the other character has the more dramatic opening scene. For this reason sometimes, authors will do two short scenes – one from each of the main characters’ POV. A brief introduction if you will and then onwards with the main character.
An easy way to establish dual POV is to have one scene/chapter/section in the heroine’s POV, then the hero’s, then the heroine’s etc. Or vice versa. It is methodical and it means that once fully established, the author switch easily between the two and shorten the distance between switches. If the story calls for it, the author can even braid the POV if she has established the POVs correctly – switching POV from page to page or even paragraph to paragraph, depending on the needs of the story. NB it is very hard to do well!
When to make the switch? Particularly if one character is basically carrying the story? Leave it for too long and the reader is pulled out. Too quickly and the reader does not have time to establish rapport. The short answer is that you always have to go with your gut. Also if your heroine is starting to think about what your hero must think, you might want to see if switching the POV ups the tension.
When you do switch, you have to make sure the reader knows whose POV they are in. You always need to anchor your POV. You also have to make certain that your transitions between POV are seamless and the reader is not left scratching her head, wondering when the shift took place.
The main thing is not pull your reader out of the story. Knowing what sort of POV you are writing can help. Ultimately with POV as with most other aspects of craft, you do need to keep your focus on the demands of the story rather than craft rule as it were. A strong story will hold the reader.
Michelle Styles writes historical romance in dual point of view for Harlequin Historical. You can read more about her books on www.michellestyles.co.uk