Monday, August 12, 2013

Guest Post: Rachel O'Laughlin Talks POVs

Today is an awesome day because I have one of the best critique partners and one of the best writers of fantasy here to talk about POVs (a topic you all know is very close to my heart!). Let's hear what she has to say, and then find out below how you can win an ecopy of her book Coldness of Marek.

Hi, readers and writers! I’m thrilled to be guest blogging on Mara’s blog today, talking about multiple points-of-view in fiction, and particularly fantasy. This is especially a cool topic for both Mara and I, as we’ve swapped ideas back and forth over manuscripts and golly, is it FUN.
I’m a bit of a point-of-view addict. If I could come at a story from EVERYBODY’S point of view, I would. Some writers of literary masterpieces did just that — slipped in and out of many heads seamlessly, without the need to break for breath or chapter heading. Nowadays, most writers are expected to be a little more uniform in the way we write. I confess, I hate these types of confines sometimes. But in the realm of point-of-view, it’s a pretty good idea to have some boundaries. I think this is one of those things where it’s really up to the writer to make those boundaries themselves, or with some critique-partners who know their style.
Some epic fantasy writers have one character from each major race, or family, or continent. Some have a hero, a villain, and a love interest. Some want to have all their points-of-view be protagonists in their own right. I’ve seen all kinds work. Even an exclusive four female points-of-view (or four male, of course) can be compelling when done well. When it comes down to it, the most important part for me is the characters’ relation to each other. That’s where the main story is happening.
For you readers out there, I thought I’d give a breakdown of who these people typically are for me. Just for fun.
The Protagonist - He/she doesn’t have to be a hero. This is just the person I’m following through the story. Everything revolves around them. Even if secondary heroes/multiple protagonists exist and I’m following them, too, there needs to be a main anchor. This is also the person we can assume doesn’t die…unless I’m mean, like George R.R. Martin. Let’s not even talk about that. *runs over to the corner to cry over Eddard one more time*
The Antagonist - Yup, I like coming from this person’s perspective as well. Why? Because I want to see inside their twisted little head. One of my favorite things an artist ever said in an interview was when Eliza Dushku was asked who she would be imprinted with if she could be someone else for a day (in the context of her starring role in the show, Dollhouse). Her answer was, “I would be Quentin Terrentino. I just wonder what’s going on in that man’s brain.” And that sums up why I like to be in this head. Who thinks these things? I’m curious.
The Counterpoint - This is definitely different than the antagonist, in that this character does NOT play the role of ruining the life of my main character. But every book I’ve penned has always had someone who fills this role. The opposite side. The mirror, the other way of looking at things. In Coldness of Marek, Mikel is the obvious counterpoint, but I didn’t come from his point-of-view at all. There are a lot of counterpoints in Trzl’s life. In the first part, it’s Dremir. In the second, Gernan.
The Darling - Wheee! Happies! This can be the comic relief, the love interest, the best friend, the kid brother, the bossy aunt that also bakes cupcakes. I tend to skip this character if I can help it, because I just like writing dark stories, but Coldness of Marek actually has one, and I did use his point-of-view. Yay Colstadt!
The Mentor/Apprentice - Obi-Wan is my perfect example here. In Star Wars 1-3, he’s the apprentice. In 4-6, he’s the mentor. But this can be either/or, or two different characters altogether. In Coldness, I only have the apprentice, Malcom. In the second book, Knights of Rilch, I have an older Knight who is definitely the mentor. The reason this character is often so real for us, I think, is because we all have these people in our lives. We have mentors we look up to, whether they be parents or teachers or employers, and we all have those who are relying on us for mentoring in one thing or another.
And that’s most of them, I do believe. If you’re a writer, which points-of-view do you tend to utilize? If you’re a reader, what are your favorite uses of point-of-view in novels?

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  1. I love multiple POVs! I think it gives more depth to the novel because you're not constantly stuck in the mind of one person - instead you get to see the author's world through a myriad of views! Thanks for the giveaway :)

    1. I agree completely! Most of the time when I read a first person POV novel, I can't help but think about how much better it would have been as third, or at least with multiple first person POVs. I loved Hunger Games, but would have really enjoyed seeing what was going on beyond Katniss even more.