Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Sequels, nail-biting, and POV switches
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Well, this is my chance to let it all out: I just sent out advanced copies of my new book, MOSAICS, and I'm a nervous wreck. Yes, yes, I was nervous when I sent out the first book in the series, CHIMERAS, but somehow, I wasn't this nervous. After all, many agents had read CHIMERAS and loved it. Many readers loved it too, to the point that they started asking when the sequel would be out. Which brings me to MOSAICS and the fact that now I have a responsibility towards the small readership I built with CHIMERAS: I'm thrilled by the response, but I don't want to disappoint them.
There's one issue in particular with my books that makes me nervous -- the switch in POV. Such switches are common, but you usually see them done from either always a third person POV or always first person. Tess Gerritsen, in her series The Surgeon, has first person chapters interspersed in a mainly third person narrative voice. I do the opposite. My books are narrated mainly in the MC's first person voice, except I occasionally add a third person chapter. This seems to through some people off. I had a beta reader tell me she refused to read those chapters. So, in this second book, I took them all out. The next reader asked what happened to the bad guy's POV, and why had I taken them out because she missed those parts. So I threw them back in.
Mind you, there are things I feel strongly about and so, no matter what readers say, I'll keep them in. Like with freeways, for example. A couple of readers criticized me for constantly naming freeways in my books. It's clear those readers never lived in Los Angeles.
Back to my third POV chapters. I'm on the fence about them because I agree the switch can be jarring. On the other hand, I like to probe into people's heads and I do believe that evil guys are way more interesting than the good guys. I like to probe into their motivations in a way that the good guys could never find out. Thomas Harris does the same: he probes deep into his bad guy's head, only he does it using an omniscient narrator. That, too, can be jarring at first, yet once you get into the plot you can't help but love it.
I do agree that switching from first person to third is highly unconventional. Yet, please don't tell me you don't like it just because it doesn't go by the rules. We wouldn't have masterpieces like One Hundred Years of Solitude or Ulysses or The Castle if all writers strictly stuck to the rules. Those books take some mental effort to read. And yet ,when you take the leap and make that effort, you discover a complete new world. So, let's find the guts to break the rules, and do it creatively. Perhaps the most beautiful review CHIMERAS has received is from Rabid Readers, who wrote: "Giorgi is also not a fan of convention and tends to shift P.O.V. as needed to advance the story." You can find the full review (which is awesome, BTW) here.
So, yes, I'll be biting my nails waiting to see what these first readers will think of the switch in POV and of the new book in general. Though I kinda know I'll be keeping those parts in. ;-)
What about you? What bold choices have you made in your work that make you nervous? And how do you go about addressing your readers' feedback?