Tuesday, October 01, 2019

How to Write a Real Page-Turner, Part 4

By Laurisa White Reyes, @lwreyes

Part of the How They Do It Series 

JH: Once again, Laurisa White Reyes is back at the podium with her How to Write a Page-Turner series, this time talking about multiple point of view

Laurisa White Reyes is the Senior Editor of Skyrocket Press & Author Services. She has published sixteen books, including 8 Secrets to Successful Self-Publishing and the SCBWI Spark Award winner The Storytellers. Laurisa also provides personal coaching for writers. To connect with her, visit Skyrocket Press.

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Take it away Laurisa...

In my previous posts, I talked about what writers should and should not do to make their books page-turners. Last time, I introduced the first of three techniques to try with your writing. Today let’s look at a second technique:

#2: Multiple Points of View

When I first started writing for children in 2006, I was told by a certain literary agent that books for middle grade readers must be written in a single point of view (POV). The agent explained that trying to keep track of more than one voice in a story was beyond the ability of most kids, that it would be too confusing.

This didn’t make sense to me. I’m a mother of five children, and I had seen for myself how my kids followed movies and video games with multiple story lines with ease. I decided the agent’s advice wasn’t giving contemporary kids, who are multi-tasking masters, enough credit.

At the same time, I happened to be reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Brown is the king of page-turners. I read that book in two nights because I literally could not stop reading it. And I asked myself why? So, I read it again and studied his techniques.

One thing I discovered is that he switches between three points of view, weaving together three story lines that all converge at the climax. Dan Brown writes for adults, but I wondered why couldn’t this same technique be applied to a children’s novel?

So, I wrote my novel, The Rock of Ivanore, with several points of view just to prove it could be done. And guess what? Kids love it.

Today, writing from multiple points of view has become more acceptable in the world of children’s books. Just a few years back, Wonder by R.J. Palacio took the country by storm. This story about a boy with a disfigured face has six distinct voices. Above World and Mirage by Jenn Reese each have two POVs, as does Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid. The Candymakers by Wendy Mass has four.

Multiple points of view also work exceptionally well with adult fiction. Here is an exercise to try:

Write a brief scene (a paragraph to one page) from the perspective of one of the characters below. Use the following prompt to get you started. Then re-write the exact same scene from a different character’s POV.

Prompt: Two characters argue over an object, each one claiming it belongs to him/her.

  • 12-year-old boy in a wheelchair
  • 18-year-old girl with spiky blue hair
  • middle-aged African American woman from the south
  • 80-year-old homeless man
  • school librarian
  • famous action movie star
  • twin siblings
  • a scientist
  • a young mother with three small children
Once you’ve practiced with this exercise, try rewriting a scene from your own work-in-progress from a different character’s POV.

About The Storytellers

12-year-old Elena Barrios' father has AIDS, a new disease in 1991 with a 100% fatality rate. Rather than face certain ridicule and ostracism, Elena tells her friends anything but the truth, fabricating stories about her father being a writer and researcher. But the reality is that Elena resents her father’s illness and can’t face the fact that he is dying. When she is befriended by a woman named Ang who tells stories about her own father, Elena is transported into these stories, allowing her to experience them first hand. With Ang's help, Elena gains the courage to stand up to the bully at her school, mend her relationship with her father, and finally say goodbye.

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