Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Back to First Person POV
A quick response to Becky’s comment from yesterday. She said “bouncing” scenes in books makes her head hurt—too many quick-change POVs are confusing. I need to clear up my meaning. When I used the term “bounce,” I meant that scenes had to keep moving, not drag down with too much description or unnecessary words. This can be true for two-page scenes as well as 10-page scenes. Scenes that are moving so fast that you readers can’t keep up just plain need fixing. Ah, Becky, hang in there. I’ll get you to read one of my suspense novels yet.
Okay, back to how I handled first person POV for my Hidden Faces series. I’ll need to tell you the story of how Web of Lies, book #4, was developed. Last summer I’d written three Hidden Faces books in first person POV, using the techniques I discussed last week. Next up—final book. I needed to come up with this thing that every book needs—called a plot. How to get my protagonist in trouble again? She’s mighty smart and cautious by this point in her life, thanks to all that’s happened to her.
Meanwhile, I had another hanging issue. I’d written two books in a former suspense series featuring Chelsea Adams, a woman who has visions. Ever since then readers have bugged me for a third in the series. So I got this brilliant idea. How about bringing Chelsea Adams into the Hidden Faces series? Have her and Annie team up? I could end two series at once (at least for now), and a second main character meant Annie wouldn’t have to take all the heat alone. I asked my editor and marketing guru at Zondervan what they thought. They said go for it.
So I ended up with two protagonists—but wait a minute. This series is written in first person, which meant Chelsea wouldn’t have a POV. How to fully characterize a protagonist without a POV? Of course, all other supporting characters had been characterized through Annie’s eyes, so this concept wasn’t new to me, but a protagonist was something else. No, Annie would have to stay main protagonist, with Chelsea as a very strong supporting character—a chum by her side.
When the heat started building in Web of Lies, I actually ended up with more of an ensemble cast. Yes, I remained in Annie’s head, but with lots of characters around, and her perceptions of those characters, it gave the story more of a multi-main character feel. A few times I did wish for multiple POV for all these characters, but I just couldn’t do that. So I had to make first person POV work as it’s never worked before for me—showing all the thoughts of these others characters through Annie’s eyes.
So there you have it—the POV story of Hidden Faces. Bottom line, after much slogging around, I found ways to use the strength of first person POV while alleviating its weaknesses.
There is one more thing I’d like to discuss before moving to a new topic. Some days ago I mentioned the three kinds of first person POV, having to do with perspective. Many authors get this “huh?” look on their faces when I mention these subcategories. I think I’ll go into that in a little more detail tomorrow, and give some examples of each.
Read Part 7