Viewpoint and Voice

I’m writing in close third person from two different points of view. I’ve tried to make the voices pretty distinct. I want the reader to be able to tell whose POV we’re in without being explicitly told (though I also try to use the POV character’s name in the first sentence or two of each switch). However, one of my characters speaks in a very strong dialect. I’ve tried to keep the essence of his personality/thoughts/voice without actually using his dialect, which would drive the reader crazy. I don’t even use his full dialect in his dialogue because it’s practically unintelligible!

However, I recently had a reader express confusion over the differences between his narrative and his dialogue. She’s the only one ever to express this, and she admittedly doesn’t read this kind of story typically. So now I’m wondering if this is actually an issue or if it’s just one of those expectations of the genre.

I decided to write a small portion in first person, just to see how different it was from the narrative I have. I don’t write first person usually. I tried to imagine how this character would tell the story to someone sitting next to him, which was a bit of a stretch because he doesn’t talk about things and hides his own emotions from himself. He’s pretty quiet internally.

I then took this brief section of first person, adjusted it to third person, and inserted it into the chapter. And dang it, it sounds pretty good. I’m a little concerned that I now have to rewrite half the book. XP

However, I really like what Orson Scott Card says in Character and Viewpoint about levels of penetration. He warns against using the same level for the entire story. I’m concerned if I rewrite it so much in his voice that the narrative will be “hot” too long.

So once again, I think it’s probably trial and error and just figuring out what works best for this story.

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