Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Guest Post & Giveaway by Michael F. Stewart
Point of View
by Michael F. Stewart
I’ve written novels in first person, third person limited, and omniscient. I’ve written in past and present tenses. I’ve written in third limited and then switched to first. And I’ve gone from the third limited to omniscient. Point of view is important. It has a huge impact on the novel’s voice, and the connection to the reader. The latter is sometimes called Narrative Distance.
Over the last ten years I’ve noted that Narrative Distance has closed in genre fiction. More often we’re reading in first person, or third person limited but well inside the head of the point of view character.
24 BONES is written somewhere between omniscient and third limited. Part of the reason is because the set up is so epic. When you have many threads to tie together, first person is impossible. You’re constricted to one view point and would have to make massive and ridiculous changes in plotting to ensure the reader understood all they needed. Omniscient also allows the author to set the scene. You can start the reader in space, zoom into Cairo, to the revolution, to the neighborhood and alleys of Coptic Cairo, and then closer into a service at the church of Abu Sarga before finally introducing your protagonist. In my novel, the prologue is strongly omniscient. 24 BONES has several protagonists, and that too is helped by my choice of viewpoint. But you don’t see a lot of omniscient storytelling these days.
The problem with omniscience is that many readers are not used to it and it’s more difficult to have the reader engage and invest, to care in the protagonist. When you do not enter a character’s thoughts, or do not spend significant time with characters, the author must work much harder to develop the reader’s connection.
I have a real affection for omniscient as I feel it creates an epic feel. So even when I write in third person, I tend not to enter the thoughts of the characters. Maybe entering heads feels like I’m cheating, that it breaks the rule of ‘show don’t tell.’ Whatever the reason, it means I have more distance between the reader and the characters, less interiority. Sometimes, to fix this—because it needs to be fixed—I’ll actually write the scene in first person ‘I’ and then switch it back to third limited. First person seems to give me the right to get deeper into the psyche of the character.
So before you start writing your novel, consider the point of view you wish to take. It’s an important decision. If you have readers who say they never really invested in a character, try rewriting the story in 1st person and then switch it back and see if that helps.
Michael F. Stewart
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Non Sequitur Press
Number of pages: 305
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Martin Stiff of Amazing15
Amazon | Smashwords
Every five hundred years the phoenix dies.
Samiya, born-into-shadow, is soon to battle her born-into-light brother. Abandoned by their parents, neither wishes to play the preordained role of beast and hero. When their loved ones are taken hostage, they are forced to follow the path laid out in myth, culminating in a battle first fought six thousand years ago in ancient Cairo. A mythic clash where one defeats the other and both become gods.
To break free from their fates, Samiya and her brother must unravel a mystery twisted by cults, greed, and magic. But myth is a powerful force and failure to live up to it may not only destroy their lives but the lives of the ones they love most.
When the phoenix dies, the only certainty is flames.
“Terrific! A successful blend of genres, complex and fascinating characters, and loads of suspense make 24 Bones a must-read.” Nate Kenyon, bestselling author of The Reach, Prime, Bloodstone, and The Bone Factory.
“'24 Bones' is a winning debut. It's well-written and well-plotted, studded with drama, action, history and mythology. There's even a little romance. The conclusion is thrilling with the final outcome of the battle between good and evil held over until the very end...leaving you guessing until that very last page.” SF Crowsnest.
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