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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sequels, nail-biting, and POV switches


This is a monthly event started by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh and organized by the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click here to find out more about the group and sign up for the next event.

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?

24 comments:

  1. This is why you can't please everyone ever. I have 3 POV in my first book, 2 in my second, and only 1 in my 3rd. You have to challenge yourself and trust that readers will love the story despite their author's adventures in voice. Write a good story and they will follow. You'll find new readers, I'm betting. Happy IWSG.

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    1. Thanks Joylene, and yes, it's a good thing to keep challenging ourselves. :-)

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  2. I'd say leave it in - it will make your book unique if so few do it.
    I was more nervous for my second book than my first. In part because I never planned a second book and part because it was my first stab at a female character. (And of course the pressure to make it better.) Readers did like it better, so I'm betting yours will like Mosaics better.

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    1. Thanks Alex! So far, 4 out of 5 betas liked Mosaics even better than Chimeras! :-)

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  3. If jumping between POV types is the best way to tell you story then you've done exactly the right thing. What else can be said?

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. I guess you're right! thank you! :-)

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  4. I do this jumping about from one character's POV and find it enjoyable and inescapable. At least your manuscript is going to first readers. You can evaluate their reviews once you receive them and decide what or what not to do. Good luck with this novel. I hope it goes well for you. Today I also wrote about my nail biting from reviews, critiques and such for this group blog hop.

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    1. I saw your post, Stephanie, excited for your book, congratulations!

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  5. I like the switch in your book, because the chapter separated I had no problem following along, without losing my feel of your MC. I guess not all readers can multitask, lol. I understand some don't like it, but in the end you should be true to your story and yourself. Go with your gut, IMHO.

    Juneta at Writer's Gambit

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    1. thanks Juneta, and LOL at the multitasking! :-)

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  6. I think it makes a book interesting when there are several points of view. As long as the story is good and there aren't too many characters, I can enjoy it.

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    1. I think so too, JL, thank you for stopping by!

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  7. It's always terrifying to make a change in our work and see how people respond to it. I hope you get rave reviews!! Happy IWSG!

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    1. thank you SL, happy IWSG to you too! :-)

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  8. I agree, especially for a protagonist/antagonistic switch that sounds like a great idea, to switch POV's. Now I have to admit I am intrigued! I think POV is a great way to ratchet up the tension. Maybe the person who didn't read is kind of like me in a movie theater when it comes to the scary parts. Not saying you should take them out but accept some people will look away.

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    1. thanks, Anne! yes, I have to accept the fact that I won't make everybody happy either way, so at that point, I might as well go with my guts. :-)

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  9. It's a balancing act, isn't it? Trying to please the majority of our readers. (I say 'majority,' because we're never going to please them all.)

    And switching POVs is not that unconventional. I've read books that combined first and third, and it worked (same reason, I recall - third for the bad guy). If the writing is done well over all, this shouldn't be a problem. Honestly, if a reader refuses to read whole chapters over something as simple as that, that's a reader you don't need.

    It kind of reminds me of an article I read on 'buried dialogue.' It advocated never putting dialogue inside a paragraph (like between action beats)--to only put it before or after the exposition, because readers who only read dialogue would miss it. Wait. What?... What!

    I'm sorry, but if a reader refuses to read exposition in a tightly written book, I don't want them for a reader. Even in a book that's super, super tight, you'd miss half the story. What's the point? It's a $ale, sure, but what happens if that reader writes a review? *shudders*

    Okay. Ahem. Let me get off that soapbox.

    Go with your gut and the majority of your readers.

    Great post. :)
    IWSG #184 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. OMG, really?? I get sooooo annoyed reading stuff that's dialogue only, if I wanted only dialogue I'd picked up a script, right? I totally hear you, Melissa, those are readers we don't want!!

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  10. As long as it's executed well, I don't think there's anything wrong with breaking the rules. It can even help make a story more memorable. So, kudos to you for being willing to take this risk! I'm sure there will be plenty of readers who enjoy it... :)

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    1. I certainly hope so, Heather, thank you! :-)

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  11. I was aware of the POV shifts, but they didn't feel jarring at all to me. And I'm glad you kept them in. They elevated a level of creepiness to the "bad guy" (or should I say the b-b-bad g-g-g-guy) that I'm not sure you could have developed without the shifts. Wonderful, wonderful book. I just left a review on goodreads. :-)

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    1. thanks, Teresa !!!!!! you just made me soooo happy! :-)

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  12. Good luck with your new book. Some readers may have a problem with the changing POVs but if it's well done, most readers will get the hang of it.

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