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The Correct POV
By Sascha Illyvich

Do you know which POV your story is told in? Do you know the correct Point of View your story SHOULD be written from? If you answer first or third person POV, you’re obviously being a smart ass. Let’s rephrase the question, shall we?

What character’s point of view should my story be told in?

There, this defines the question better. And the answer is simple. The main character’s POV. But what if you have two characters? Presumably a Hero and a Heroine, since this is Romance I’m mainly covering, let’s stick with that assumption. What if you have a villain? Do we tell any part of the story from that character’s perspective?

Many writers assume that during major scene changes, the perspective should change. They’re half correct. A lot of writers suggest that we need to know about the villain if there is one, and that character should get a say too. Again, they’re half right.

The truth is, POV is simple. Tell the story from the Point of View of the character that has the most to lose.

What do I mean by that? Let’s break it down. In a typical romance novel, we have the hero and heroine and a plot that runs something like this:

Hero meets Heroine (hey you’re hot)
Hero and Heroine end up in bed (light cigar/cigarette)
Argument separates the two (God he’s a jerk/she’s a bitch)
And in the end, something happens that is greater than both the Hero and Heroine’s issues that makes them examine their beliefs and realize they need the other.

Let’s figure this out (I need you/I love you)
HEA/Happily for Now

Throw in a villain and that character’s appearance should be before or during the cigar in the above example. Considering that much of today’s erotic romance is paranormal or urban fantasy, there is a bad guy waiting to kill off both Hero/Heroine.

So what determines whose point of view the story is told from? This is also easy. For the story to flow without head hopping, let’s use a simple rule of thumb (courtesy of Morgan Hawke

IF the story is under 20k, you simply need ONE character where the event happens to THEM and ONLY them.

IF the story is under 40k, then we have an event that affects two characters.

IF the story is under 100k, we have three characters who get a say, usually because the villain is the one doing shit to the world/universe—including the H/H.

2 Responses

  1. Sascha, great article. POV is something most writers really struggle with and it goes deeper than what you’ve outlined, IMHO. (Since I’m hanging with the Prince, I’ll extend the extra politeness.)

    I think many writers don’t even recognize when they’re switching POV. They’re doing it unintentionally even when they’re trying not to. Inexperienced writers do it because they feel the need to share everything with the reader and only ends up confusing them.

    I wholeheartedly agree that each scene should be told from the POV of the character with the most at stake. I don’t however, subscribe to the notion that switching POV should be dictated by a story’s length. For example, if the characters are having an argument or wrecking the bed, it seems there are a lot of emotions present and the reader would enjoy learning how both characters feel in these situations. I’m not proposing head hopping, but opening an emotional scene in one POV and ending it in the other’s is rich.

    And BTW, can we just have shots of whiskey after pressing the sheets? I had to quit smoking…LOL Thanks for letting me chime in.

  2. Margie,

    It’s my pleasure. Most writers don’t understand the point of writing in terms of how to show the scene and WHY the scene is written as it is. Especially in Romance, this holds true for newer authors. There is a REASON the story is told as is.

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