From My Point of View . . .

Several people have told me that I need to work on point of view (POV). Most of the people in my workshop told me that I kept switching POV’s. I asked them if they thought maybe I should use a different POV, and they suggested omniscient as opposed to third-person. I tried that only to have my mentor tell me that I have no clue how to write omniscient (not surprising considering I’d never tired it before) and that I wasn’t telling the story from my characters’ points of view.

So, I picked up a book called The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley. I like it so far. Actually, I like it better than all of the confusing and conflicting advice that I’ve been getting from other people. I think that I’ve finally figured out what’s going on.

Omniscient POV isn’t trendy right now. First person is the trend. At least half of the readings that I heard at the residency were written in first person. Since this is the case, writers have been telling me that I can’t write in anything but first person or deep third (deep third is basically first person without the “I”). However, I don’t like to read first person very much, so I’m not too fond of writing it. More importantly than that is the fact that only particular stories can be told in first person. Some stories just don’t lend well to a first-person POV.

Just because I like to write stories in non-deep third-person or multiple third-person doesn’t mean that writing that way is wrong. According to Rasley, I can even start a scene in omniscient and then move in to third—something I had been told was taboo. It’s like someone said at the residency (Marion Dane Bauer?). She said that an editor told her she wasn’t a picture book writer when what he really meant was, “This isn’t a picture book.” People have been telling me, “You can’t write light-penetration third,” when maybe they should have said, “Light-penetration third is an okay POV, but you need to work on it. You don’t have a handle on it yet.”

Now, I’m not saying that I don’t have problems with POV; I definitely have some things to work on. Although, I do feel that a lot of my issues have to do with voice and character rather than directly with POV. I have trouble developing character voice, and I have a tendency to remain distant from the story. This affects my POV, but it’s an issue in and of itself.

Anne M.

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