Monday, 14 February 2011

The POV Problem


This is the point I am currently at with my WiP. Throughout the planning and drafting, I've had a consistent problem with Points Of View. There are two schools of thought for me on third person POVs in fiction and in my mind they are thus:

The Julia Quinn Method:

Pro: As and when needs be, for effect and good story telling, points of view can switch between hero and heroine. Mainly the POV tends to be the heroine's, but the reader gets an interesting glimpse into the thoughts of the hero, which often heightens dramatic effect and provides a well-rounded story.

Con: The story can jump around a bit, and if not handled well, can be confusing. Very difficult to add suspense if you know what every body's thinking.

The Victoria Holt Method:

Pro: Entirely from the heroine's POV, the story unfolds to the reader as it does to her. This can heap on the feeling of drama and climax, and add a great sense of mystery.

Con: She figured that out how? Or alternatively, how stupid is she? If your protagonist has to have it spelled out for her you are in danger of talking down to your reader, but if you don't reveal enough, she's some kind of super sleuth.

So that is my quandary, simplified so my brain doesn't burst. I have been writing using multiple POVs, but I'm having trouble... My hero has a secret that needs to stay secret, but it seems unlikely he'd never think about it during his POV time!

So I'm going to bite the bullet and re-write as single POV. It seems the best way forward, and at least I'm only 8500 words in...


  1. POV is such a dilemma! Good luck with your edits...may they go quickly!

  2. You can always skip the hero's point of view for a while; sticking to the heroine while the secret needs to be secret; and if by doing so the work slows down a bit, then you can always have his point of view limited to actions and events not related to the secret, keeping him away from thinking about them and maintaining the suspense. This was very effectively done by Stieg Larson in the Millenium sereies, where Lisbeth's secrets remained secret up to the moment when the story demanded they come out.

  3. I'd suggest sticking to one PoV - if they are not very deftly handled, stray thoughts from another character can simply leave a clunky impression.

    If, as you write more, you find there are more occasions when the contrast between two different PoVs would make for a satisfying narrative, then perhaps you could think about breaking it up into different sections seen from another perspective.