Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Multiple POVs? Yes, Please!

By Karen Amanda Hooper, @Karen_Hooper

Part of the How They Do It Series

It took me a long time to find the point of view style I worked best in, so I feel for writers having a similar struggle. Luckily, there's hope for the POV-challenged. Karen Amanda Hooper takes the podium today to share her journey on finding the right POV for her, and offers a few tips on how you can find yours.

Karen writes romantic young adult paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi. She is the author of TANGLED TIDES , THE KINDRILY series, and VIRTUAL ARCANA.

She is currently sunning and splashing around Florida with her two beloved dogs. Some of her addictions include coffee, chocolate, and complicated happily-ever-afters.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound

Take it away Karen...

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As writers, we have to make tough decisions about the best way to tell our stories. First or third person, past or present tense, or the rare but exciting fifth future tense, the options can be overwhelming. (I was kidding about fifth person future--stop Googling it.)

I’ve seen and heard writers ask which method is best. Which do readers prefer? Are first person present books still popular or are they going out of style?

I’ve always believed (and still do) that there is no overall best way, only what’s best for each unique story and its author. That kind of general, feel-good advice isn’t very helpful when you’re unsure and starting a new manuscript, but it’s the truth.

Think about the books you enjoy reading. (And if you’re an aspiring author, for the love of St. Patrick, you better enjoy reading!) Which style do you gravitate toward? Are the majority of your all-time favorites in first or third, past or present? Seriously, go look at your bookshelves and figure it out. Because usually, the books you love to read are the kind of books you will write best.

I wrote my very first manuscript in first person past. It was one point of view until halfway through the manuscript, and then I switched to a different narrator. He told the story for about fifty pages, and then I switched back to the original narrator. It was a hot mess.

Many revisions, edits, and years later, that novel is Grasping at Eternity, and it’s told by two, consistently alternating narrators in first person past tense. The second book in the series is told the same way. So is the third. Why? Because that’s what worked best for that series, story line, and characters.

In all honesty, I am a first person writer. It allows me to become as close as possible to the characters. For me, that style flows most naturally. I’ve tried writing in present or third and it always feels like my characters are standing on the sidelines with their arms crossed while glaring at me and yelling, “When are you going to switch back to first and do us justice?”

That is not to say present or third is wrong. It just hasn’t been right for me or any novel I’ve written so far. You may also have to go through the process of your characters glaring at you and complaining before you figure out your right way to write them. Try a scene in first, then write it in third, try past and present, and see which feels best. (If you’re really ambitious try that fifth person future tense and be a literary trailblazer. Just don’t tell anyone I told you to do it.)

Now, I must get back to working on the third novel in my Sea Monster Memoirs series. Books which are told from THREE alternating first person past tense narrators. Yup, three different characters tell the story. And I swap out one of them in each of the three books. Some people say you shouldn’t do that, but I did, because I can write however I want. And so can you.

Want to read a novel written in alternating female/male POVs? GRASPING AT ETERNITY, the first book in The Kindrily series, is currently free on most ebook retailers.

About Grasping at Eternity

Leave it to Maryah Woodsen to break the one rule that will screw up eternity: Never erase your memories.

Before entering this life, Maryah did the unthinkable—she erased. Now, at seventeen years old, she’s clueless that her new adoptive family has known her for centuries, that they are perpetually reincarnated souls, and that they have supernatural abilities. Oh, and she's supposed to love (not despise) Nathan, the green-eyed daredevil who saved her life.

Nathan is convinced his family’s plan to spark Maryah's memory is hopeless, but his love for her is undying. After spending (and remembering) so many lifetimes together, being around an empty version of his soulmate is heart shattering. He hates acting like a stalker, but has no choice because the evil outcast who murdered Maryah in their last lifetime is still after her.

While Maryah’s hunter inches closer, she and Nathan make assumptions and hide secrets that rip them further apart. Maryah has to believe in the magic within her, Nathan must have faith in the power of their love, and both need to grasp onto the truth before they lose each other forever—and discover just how lonely eternity can be.

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  1. Awesome post! I tend to write in third person past tense, although my most successful novel was written in the first person... hmmm, perhaps I should try that again! All the best with your writing, Karen!
    Great stuff, Janice :D

    1. Suzy, I admire your versatility. So far I have yet to feel good about my third person writing, but I hope to write a book in that style someday. All the best with your writing too!

  2. I love to write in first person - past tense, but my current WIP is written in third person - past tense with two POV characters. This was a real struggle to switch. Now I worry that when I go back to first person, it will feel awkward. I love that you say you can write however you want despite the fact some people say not. Always a rebel at heart!

  3. This post came at a good time, as I was just debating this morning whether or not I wanted to do multiple POVs. I think I will. Thanks for an awesome post!