If you’re in the middle of writing an epic scale novel/series, like I am, or even just trying to get a novella or short story together, chances are choosing who’s going to be your point of view (herein referred to as “POV”) character is driving you insane. Whether you’re worried about head-hopping or just delivering a good story, deciding which eyes the story will be told from is crucial to how to the story will be presented and even experienced by your readers.
Don’t worry, though. On this week’s Writing Wednesday, I’m going to help you figure out which of your characters is up to the task of carrying out this duty. But I have to warn you. It’s probably going to sound a bit unorthodox.
Who Keeps You Up At Night?
I’m sure you’ve experienced this before or something like it.
Maybe you’re riding the bus, and you hear a quirky voice inside your head. Or maybe you’re washing dishes, and a plot idea comes to you. Maybe you’re trying to fall asleep, and then, wha-pow! You’ve got to get up, turn on a light, snatch a journal, and scribble that sucker of an idea down before it goes away.
That’s your POV character(s) talking to you.
And like eager school children who know the answer to a question, they’re the ones raising their hands, squealing, “Me! Me! Tell my story! Tell my story, writer! Please!”
And it’s your job, dear writer, to listen and record.
Who Makes Writing Fun?
When you start up your word processor or grab your pen and paper and start writing, who’s the character you’re looking forward to spending time with? Who’s the character that you can’t get enough of? Who’s the character that makes the words fly off your fingertips and land on the page? Which characters do you often check up on in other parts of your setting, if you happen to be writing a story in 3rd-person omniscient?
When writing, trust your subconscious. Trust that secretive part of your brain chomping away in the background. Pick a character, and see where they take you. Make as much of an outline as you can, or just hit the road running.
But whatever you do, don’t give up.
Who Makes Writing Not-So Fun?
Sometimes, the characters that makes you want to pull your hair out while writing — yes, they exist — are also good POV character candidates. I had that happen to me during the rough draft of the novel I’m currently writing. I got so frustrated with the main character’s whining, complaining, and weakness that I needed to step back and reassess her character personality and overall arc.
And I’m so glad I did. Because it’s helped me make her story stronger.
So, as I said before, don’t give up. The characters that make you roll your eyes or wish that they were less whiny or cowardly might be the characters you secretly care about the most. Take your time. Be patient with them. Listen to what they want or are afraid of.
Then write about it.
Your Characters Choose You
Okay, so, the title of this blog post was a bit of a bait-and-switch. I admit that. But hear me out, okay? This is going to make things so much easier for you down the line.
When writing a story, it’s not so much about you, the writer, choosing which characters get time on the page and which don’t. During the editing process or once you’ve gotten feedback from a critique partner or beta reader, adding or deleting certain scenes of other POV characters might make your story stronger. Information withheld from a reader can add or subtract suspense to the work. Those are all calls you could make later down the line.
But when you’re writing that absolute first draft and have that story idea buzzing around in your head — and just in general, it’s usually the other way around.
Your characters chose you to tell their stories.
Say it with me now: “My characters chose me to tell their stories.“
Don’t worry about who’s got the most at stake or who has the quirkiest voice or whatever. Just write. Let go. Trust the process. Trust your characters. Trust yourself.
You’ve got this.
Hey, everybody. Thanks for reading this post to the very end. If you thought this post was awesome, please consider sending me some spare change so I can write more awesome posts like this one.
And as always, I’ll see you in the next post.