Saturday, February 21, 2009

POV & Me

As I said in my last post, I started writing EVIL? (formerly called The Right Hand Of Evil) in a third person limited omniscient point of view. It is my favourite, after all. However, I realized by the third chapter that first person was the way I had to go. Yes, I had to. My stories can be very demanding sometimes.

And, they're always right. When I finished the first draft of that book, I couldn't imagine having written it any other way.

My current project is called Kids Who Know. For this one, I knew that first person wouldn't work. I also knew third person limited omniscient wouldn't be enough - at least, not the way I'd been doing it. KWK has not one but two focus characters, something I have not done for the last six novel projects. I thought I might just do it for the prologue, then have the rest of the book focus on my main character. Fairly early in, however, I realized it wouldn't be that way. KWK needs a second focus character, my story told me, and as always it was right on the money.

The reason I've been avoiding more than one focus characters is partly because a writing teacher of mine once told me not to. Stick with my main character, she said, or you risk losing focus. And it's cheating. Or something like it. I didn't completely agree with her, but part of her lesson stuck. I am a lot more aware of focus and POV thanks to her, and when it came to the project she was helping me with (a middle-grade book called Trevor Niles: Goblin Kicker) she was right. Her guidance is also clearly evident in EPOCH.

With Kids Who Know, however, I threw that lesson out the window. My story wants two focus characters, and it'll get two focus characters.

Of course, what I'm telling you here is nothing new to most writers. Many of the novels I've read have multiple focus characters, and it works beautifully. My favourite example is Stephen King's IT, where he has a group of seven kids (and their adult counterparts) who each need their own focus scenes, along with a host of minor characters. It works, because that was the way that story needed to be told.

So it is with my stories. I'm aware of the rules of point of view, but I do what my story tells me. In the end, the story is always the boss.