In Doubt? Try a New POV
I’m revising one of my earlier novels, trying to speed up the beginning, but I couldn’t get chapter two to work correctly.
The story is told in the alternating points of view of two characters, and chapter two is the all-important introduction of one of them. I had written it and re-written it so many times, but none had the oomph this commercial science-fiction middle-grade novel needs.
What to do? Break out the chocolate? Punch a pillow? Try another re-write and question my writing skills?
All were tempting, but instead, I took my dog out for a walk. When in doubt, a walk is always good for clearing your head.
During that walk, I let the character play around in my head and he started talking to me — first person. Hmm. When in doubt, try a new POV?
The other side of my brain was screaming NO!!!!! This story is a third-person story. Everything about it works in third person. First-person will not work, not with the dual-POV in middle-grade. No! Third person.
But at this point, what did I have to lose?
At the SCBWI Summer Conference a few years ago, I heard some advice that has always stuck with me: Try it! If you have an idea, no matter how crazy, try it. Even if it doesn’t work, it might lead to other ideas. And if not, you now know it won’t work and can try something else. The important thing is to try it!
So, I tried it. I tried the first-person, sure that it wouldn’t work.
And guess what? It worked. The character jumped onto the page and ran around shouting to me what was happening in the scene. I couldn’t type fast enough.
But here’s the interesting part: After about five paragraphs, the words shifted. The scene was still working, but the voice moved from first-person to third! Yes!
The copy editor in me quickly went back and changed all the Is to make them third person, then I continued on in the scene. The whole chapter came out with oomph, character, humor and everything else this book needs.
A change of point of view can help you discover new options in your story. First change your point of view and get out and walk around. Then change your character’s point of view and see what happens. It doesn’t mean you have to stick with it, just try it. You never know what it’ll lead to.
Have you had any enlightening moments with a POV change?