Saturday, November 18, 2006

View Point

The writing group I'm in is fun. We do all kinds of different writing projects. One of those is exchange of novel pages we're each working on. This has been a real eye-opener for me on the subject of view point. Now, I'm a stickler when it comes to this subject because not only do I write novels, I also read a lot of them for review at But it's come to my attention that romance writers have an entirely different opinion on the subject. Their stories switch heads in the same paragraph! Sorry gals, for the screeching, but this reader doesn't like that.

It is my opinion ANY story can be made stronger when special consideration is made for view point. Years ago when I was writing my first novel, I wasn't happy with a particular scene, so decided to rewrite it from the other character's point of veiw. Wow! --that turned out to be the best scene in the book [a manuscript that now collects dust on the shelf and probably won't ever see publication]. I'm reminded of an old cliche: "Don't criticize someone until you've walked 10 miles in his shoes." You have to LIVE that OTHER character even if your background work remains in the background. Spend time in that other character's shoes. Then come back to your story and watch it blossom! I enjoy reading romance, I really do. I especially like it when I can understand both main characters, and feel like each one is a real person. Any story that reads like all characters are just props for the main character is a flat read and doen't hook many fans. This is especially true when head-hopping writers have trouble SHOWing the reader whose head we're in at any given moment.

Need an example of good view point? Rudyard Kipling's CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS is a good example; so is the recently published author Sarah Monette [MELUSINE; & THE VIRTU]. In film I can think of two good examples: the ancient but still worth watching FATHER GOOSE; and ROMANCING THE STONE. These are incredible examples of view point. Please list more....


Blogger Tracy said...

This romance writer prefers to keep one view point per scene. I also like reading them better. I don't like it when I have to go back a few lines or paragraphs to figure out whose head I am in.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Constance said...

I was looking at my books that I reread on a regular basis (once a year, at least) and they all have one thing in common. Consistent viewpoints, whether it is rotating third person or first person. If the viewpoint in a book changes every other paragraph, I toss the book across the room and I'm done. The good romances don't do that. Bad ones want us to be aware of every random thought the two protags have every time they clap eyes on each other.

I think consistent viewpoint allows a reader to invest in the character(s). If I am emotionally involved with the character, I am more apt to read to find out what happens. As writers, the interesting problem is how to make a reader sympathize with a character, even if it is the bad guy.

12:43 PM  
Blogger KC Heath said...

I can't get my mind off Sarah Monette. Every book I read now I compare unfavorably to her mastery of the language and viewpoint. Can anyone else recommend an author that's a great read?

1:18 PM  

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