Teagan Kearney/G.N. Kearney: Writer: ALTERNATING POINTS OF VIEW


Alternating points of view (POV) is a difficult technique to master, so the question is, when you can tell the story from one perfectly valid point of view, why should a writer make life  more difficult by introducing alternating POVs? One advantage of multiple points of view is that it is a unique approach which can reveal variety, depth and deception in relationships; it’s also useful for slipping in information you want your reader to know. 

Another strength in the use of alternating points of view is that it allows the reader to have a varied experience of the story. When a writer uses the first person POV, it is unavoidable that the narrator’s bias will colour their version of events. Having more than one narrator always gives a fuller picture. A writer might choose to use an unreliable narrator, and want the reader to have other accounts to match against the first one. 

The challenge for the writer is to create characters with distinct voices (readers can tell if the voices are too similar) who can hold your readers’ attention equally - otherwise interest can be lost when it’s the turn of someone’s less favourite narrator.

When the narrator changes from one character to another, it can be a bit of a shock. One way to offset this is to give the name of the speaker at the beginning of each chapter. Although this may seem too obvious or clunky a ploy, at least it’s clear who is speaking. And the goal is to keep your reader interested, not leave them with their heads spinning! 

One example of how to use alternating points of view is Jodi Picault’s novel My Sister’s Keeper; another is Brando Skyhorse’s Madonnas of Echo Park. If you’re thinking of using this technique, I’d advise giving both of these books a read, as they are master classes in how to handle multiple POV’s with ease and clarity. 

Writing Update

Buzzing and fevered is how I would describe myself right now. I’ve used half the month’s adrenaline supply in one morning, and ...yes, you’ve guessed right (or you will have if you’ve ever attempted it) it’s nanotime!

I printed out my chapter outline – twenty five chapters, four to six lines per chapter - so it’s not a detailed description, but I know what events and emotions I want in each chapter. I carry this with me everywhere. 

When I finish one chapter, I start going over the next one, expanding the details, and jotting down anything relevant which comes to mind. Last night, every time I went to switch the light off,  another snippet of conversation or element of a scene popped into my mind. I think I wrote about three pages of notes before I finally went to sleep.

The last few months of editing have felt like running on a treadmill – lots of hard work and going nowhere – although I’ll admit the calories did come off - so participating in the NaNoWriMo is proving to be an excellent remedy.

Today’s Haiku
tired travellers
vacant eyes – street lights pass by
reflecting gold

Useful Links:
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Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

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