As they emerge onto the page, they find their own way of speaking and getting their point of view across.
I’m currently working on my YA thriller, The Secret Life of Mindy Palmer about 17 year old Lia whose sister Mindy is murdered and Lia sets out to find the killer.
Initially I started telling the story entirely from Lia’s point of view:
When Mindy died, pain gripped my heart like a hangman’s noose.
After three months, people said it was time to let her go, but I couldn’t. I missed my sister like crazy, and that last night of her life, Mindy had been trying to tell me something. I knew it. I should have asked more questions. I should have got answers. No matter what the cops said, Mindy’s death wasn’t a random act of teen daring. It was murder.
But then, the more I wrote, the more Mindy’s character appeared in my head too… and insisted on telling her side of things – she wanted the reader to know who she was and what really happened to her. She wanted to live her life again through my story.
They say your whole life flashes in front of you just before you drown…and it’s true. That’s what alerts me to the fact that I’m about to die – that this time, the river is not going to let me go.
I had kind of been ignoring Mindy for a while and trying to focus on Lia, but Mindy kept insisting and in the end I gave in and decided to let her have her say. And to be honest, I think it’s added a lot more depth to my story. It allows me to build suspense because I can show the reader things through Mindy’s eyes…and give the reader information that the main character, Lia doesn’t know. So the reader soon discovers that Lia is in more danger than she realises.
There are a number of advantages to having more than one point of view. It means the reader can see things from different perspectives and that certain discoveries can be delayed. It has helped eliminate the flat points in my story.
But it hasn’t stopped there. As I kept writing, a new voice emerged, wanting to have their say. It belonged to Lia’s best friend Steve who has been acquainted with the family all their lives and knows things about Mindy that Lia doesn’t even know.
Steve adds a male point of view to the mix and also allows me to present the entire Palmer family from a more objective point of view.
Some people aren’t born to deal with the crap that life dishes out. When reality slams them to the dirt, they can’t just pick themselves up and brush off the damage. They’re crushed in a way they can’t recover from without help. That’s why I’m sticking with Lia every step of the way, until we find the prick who killed her sister.I guess what I’m learning from this is that point of view is not static. There are no hard and fast rules and point of view is something that can change during the course of writing your story. It’s a case of listening to your characters and deciding what works best for you and the characters.
If something you’ve written in third person makes you feel as if your character is too distant, try rewriting it in first person. Experiment – see what works best. And don’t be afraid of multiple points of view, just make sure all the characters have strong, unique voices, that they come into the story at the right times and that each character has their own story arc.
If you have any tips or experiences about using multiple points of view, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.
P.S. Friday Feedback is on at DeeScribe Writing this Friday. Check back for a sample piece of writing and feedback.