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Tuesday, October 10

Day Ten: Idea to Novel Workshop: Choosing Your Point-of-View Characters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Ten of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. The first twelve days will focus on developing the story and getting all the pieces in place so we can more easily plot the entire novel.

Today, we’ll pick which character or characters we want to use to tell our stories.

Choose Your Point-of-View Character(s)

Odds are, the point-of-view character is going to be the protagonist, which makes choosing a point-of-view character fairly easy. But not every novel is told from a single point of view.

In mysteries or thrillers, it’s common for readers to see both sides of a tale with the protagonist and antagonist. Romances are often told from both the male and female leads. More epic tales—such as fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction—might use several characters to show various parts of the story.

To find the right point-of-view character(s) for your story, answer the following questions with your potential character(s) in mind:

1. If you don’t see that character’s point of view, what is lost?

2. Does every potential point-of-view character have her own plot or story goal?

3. How do the points of view work together to tell a larger story?

4. Which characters have the most to gain or lose?

5. Is more than one of these points of view needed?

6. If so, what do the multiple points of view allow you to accomplish?

When finished, you should have a better understand of which characters and points of view your story needs.

EXERCISE: Write down your point-of-view character(s) and explain why they make the best point of view for the novel.

Don’t forget to consider what the point-of-view character brings to the story. If the character is important enough to have part of the novel in her perspective, then she’ll directly affect plot and not be there solely to convey information to readers.

Those following along with the PYN book: Workshop Four goes into more extensive detail on the different types of point of view and their uses, and further discussions of narrative distance and filter words.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at determining your story’s theme.

Follow along at home with the book, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure. Get more brainstorming questions and things to think about, in-depth articles, and clear examples of every step from idea to novel.

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A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The Shifter, was chosen for the 2014 list of "Ten Books All Young Georgians Should Read" from the Georgia Center for the Book. It was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, and The Truman Award in 2011.

Janice is also the founder of Fiction University, a site dedicated to helping writers improve their craft. Her popular Foundations of Fiction series includes Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft, your step-by-step guide to revising a novel, and her Skill Builders Series, Understanding Show Don't Tell (And Really Getting It), and Understanding Conflict (And What It Really Means).   
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