Switch it Up: Character POV
As you know I've (up until this point) exclusively written in dual point of view. That means that my heroine and hero alternate points of view throughout the story. When I'm starting a scene, I mostly rely on my instincts to pick a character's POV.
The 3 essential questions to ask yourself when writing a scene is:
- Who has the most to gain/lose?
- Does someone have a secret they're divulging?
- Who does the reader need to get to know better (at this point of the story)?
I don't always (rarely?) go through this list. If my instincts tell met to lean this way or that, I do it, writing from the POV that makes the most sense to me. Most of the time it works out.
Then there are the times it doesn't. 😐
This past weekend I was drafting book 3 for my Harlequin Desire series. For every word typed, I thought "this is wrong, completely wrong" followed by "crap, garbage, abort, ABORT!"
Have you ever been there? You push through because progress is achieved through persistence, and there you are typing away and hoping desperately to uncover the point or a truth that reveals the gem hiding in the scene... But no matter how many words you write it's no use. You can literally feel the dullness coming off your computer like the stench of a thousand plagues.
The good news:
it's a first draft and you can make a mess of it.
I don't think us writers celebrate that freedom enough. We can climb into our first drafts and get really, really messy without worrying about consequences. We can take comfort that a sharp-eyed, red-pen-weilding editor and/or our own review of our work will provide the opportunity to clean it up. Remember that the next time you're suffering "writer's block" and remind yourself that as long as you make words, you're not blocked. They may not be quality words, but at least they're there.
Back to my story about writing in the wrong direction...
I finally waved the white flag, giving up after my new chapter's breath closely resembled a death rattle. I didn't hit my word count for the day, but at that point I knew there wasn't any point in pushing through until I figured out what the hell I was doing. I left my desk, set my work aside, and watched a lot of television. I justified that it was my day off (and I shouldn't have been working anyway), and it was cold and rainy, and the husband was out of town and I was sore and tired, and hey look, wine!
Then something miraculous happened.
I woke up in the morning with a very clear vision on what needed to change.
I'd started the chapter in my heroine's POV. A little background: She's hosting a dinner for families who can't afford Christmas on Christmas Eve. Logically, we stay in her POV, right?? She's the one who has the most to gain if it's a success, or lose if it flops. We learn how she feels about doing this year in and out, and revel in the love she has for the season...
Yeah, NO. It didn't work. It came across like a list of to-dos, her mentally planning the next steps, and managing the volunteers and worrying about her upcoming wedding in a few hours. (Yep, this is a marriage of convenience story.)
So I switched to my hero's POV instead. My Scroogey, grouchy head of security who is attending the dinner to watch over the heroine. Why does it work? Because this is the first time he's seeing this side of her. He knew she was organized and determined, but he also sees another side of her when he watches across the room as she interacts with families and hands gifts to the children in attendance. He softens toward her and so do we, the readers, because we are seeing her through his eyes.
BOOM! I had it.
Once I deleted those clunky words from her POV and dug into his instead, he revealed more to me about why it was so difficult for him to like this time of year, and I saw the first hint that he's beginning to heal because of our heroine.
If you're having a similar issue and you've looked at content, timeline, plot, and character, maybe try to switch the POV and tell it from the other characters' eyes instead. It may make all the difference.