Note: After all the excitement of launching my new book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs last month, I’m giving myself a little break this week from the usual post and podcast. Instead, I am sharing a fast tip that I hope you will enjoy and find useful! I will be back next week with a brand new post about the pros and cons of prologues vs. flashbacks when writing stories with complex backstories.
One of the single greatest decisions authors make for their stories is selecting the right POV character for the story. And yet this is often a decision we make in a split second. Usually, the answer seems to be staring us in the face right from the beginning. The main POV should go to the character who inspired the story to begin with, the character we love the most—that’s the character who should get top billing, right?
Ninety percent of the time, yes. However, it’s wise to double-check yourself by taking at least one look beyond the obvious choice. You may look at your options and decide, after all, that your first choice was indeed your best choice. But in opening your narration prospects just a bit, you may also find some surprising opportunities for your story.
For example, Daphne du Maurier’s swashbuckling historical The King’s General is based on the life of Sir Richard Grenville, a prominent and colorful character in the English Civil War. At first glance, he would seem to be the prime choice to narrate his own story. Du Maurier, however, bypassed Grenville as both the narrator and, as a result, the main character. She chose instead to entrust her story to a surprising source: a fictional paraplegic woman named Honor Harris whose life frequently intersects with Grenville’s.
A cursory examination of this choice might make us question du Maurier. After all, she not only chose a bit player to star, she also chose someone who, at first glance, might seem limited in participating in much of the physical action.
However, a closer look proves du Maurier’s choice was that of a seasoned storyteller, who knew how to achieve just the right framing for her story and just the right distance from her sometimes unlikable historical hero. She chose a unique and compelling point of view that allowed her to pace and shade the story to her own specifications.
Not every story will benefit from the choice of an unconventional narrator, but this is a reminder that it’s worth taking a look at all your options before choosing your story’s main character.
Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! Who did you choose as the main POV character for your latest story? Tell me in the comments!
The post Have You Chosen the Right POV Character for Your Story? appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.
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Author: K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland