Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'll have a SLICE of POV Pie, PLEASE!

Recently, while working on my current novel project, I began to wonder how well my POV changes were executed in my first published novel, Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider. I promptly grabbed the novel off the shelf and began to count and label POV switches, thinking that I might find a pattern or a lovely graph of POV usage to tickle my fancy. What I found was something that tasted a little like day-old donuts...

There were 81 POV Switches (herein called POV Instances, or POVI's) in all. That in itself is no crime with the ensemble cast I employed to tell the story. Beth Rider was the primary POV; which is to be expected as, well, read the title of the book... Okay, then her hero, Michael Stone was the 2nd most used POV, and then to Javier, a middle-of-the-road character who was seeking truth, the 3rd. So far, all this is perfect. Sitting firmly in 4th place is the antagonist, Jack Dawn. Right on course. Excellent.

So what's the problem?

I found some POV errors that me nor my editors noticed before the book went to print. 4 out of 81 POVI's were a little muddy or mixed. Do they matter? Not to the readers. Readers don't care about such things. But authors will notice and wonder, 'did she mean to do that?' So for the edification of all, I have charted the POVI's of Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider, The Judging, and my work in progress, Rabbit: Legacy. Let's have a look:

Here, you can see all of what I was sharing about the POV distribution among my characters... I like the distribution of POV, and am satisfied that it is correct for the storyline.

Now look at unpublished future sensation, THE JUDGING:

This novel has been edited close to 20 times by four people, and it about as close to perfect as it is going to get before it goes to print. It is proper that there are 4 main characters giving the POV, and 3 supporting. Also, my minors are so minor, that they only give one shot. This is good for victims... It works well.  The POVI's are good. But I found other problems that I would not have found had I not plotted the POVI's. I found some Chapter-ization errors. (Yes, I made that word up). I found some places I should break for a new chapter (such as when introducing a new character for the first time). I never really 'saw' that before I had the POVI's plotted.

Now, on my current project, I am finding the plotting is helpful to make sure I am on track. Writing a brand new novel from scratch, I have a tendency to run off with my emotional favorites and leave the heroine/hero behind as I develop the book. Here, Canaan appears to be the main character because so far, he has the most POVI's. But... it will likely be an even split between Canaan, Beth Rider and the antagonists. Let's see how it looks with 42,000/100,000 words down so far:

By looking at this POV Pie, I can see that the lukewarm guys and the evil guys have been written first, and the heroes last. I will need to get to writing those guys soon or no one will win the battle at the end!

So, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this slices of POV pie, and maybe you will one day plot your POVI's and see how you're doing in this sensitive subject among authors. I enjoyed the exercise and I will do it for all my novels now, BEFORE I send them to the editor.

I'm off to make changes!  Boker tov/have a great day!

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