Writers and readers!
My friends, my colleagues, my enemies (enemies?): I need your help. It’s nothing difficult, it’s nothing dire, but it is simply my curiosity that I hope you will help appease or at least indulge, for a moment. I’m stumbled upon a conundrum in my writing that I would very much like your opinion on, now that I realize this is something that people can (obviously, now that I think about it) have wide and various opinions over.
As I’m sure you can guess, it deals with tension and POV.
Darryn’s story is a trilogy told through multiple POV. Some are through some minor characters. Others are major players. Originally, when I was writing the book, I didn’t have a real purpose for having so many POVs. It’s just how the story was in my head, so that’s how it translated onto the page. Then, as I started editing and paying more attention to the nuances of the story, I realized that I really enjoyed having multiple POV because of the tension that it created. By cluing the readers into what was going on with Erebus, our main bad guy, or the Solomonarii, our omnipotent creatures, with information that Darryn, our protagonist, wasn’t aware of but really needed to know, there was this tension created that everyone knew what was going on except for him. So you became angry at him when he would act a certain way or not do something because you know that X is happening right now and he really should be doing Y but he’s as ignorant as all get out, so he’s over here still doing A, B and C, and readers are just pissed because WHY AREN’T YOU DOING X, YOU IGNORANT BASTARD?!
Or, at least, so I hoped.
I received some invaluable feedback from a beta reader on this trilogy. I obviously have a lot more work to do than I originally thought I did. But one piece of feedback really stuck with me and surprised me, especially when a recommendation followed: having so many POVs took away from the tension because the readers knew what was going on in every character’s head, so there was no tension created due to not knowing what was going on. Instead, I should rewrite to only incorporate two POV: Darryn, our protagonist, and McKenna, our hero, in order to increase the tension.
I think you can see my dilemma here.
As I started to think about this, I thought about the books I love so much that incorporate multiple POVs: the works of Brent Weeks, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, to name a few. And I tried to think about if I took some of those POVs, would I have been more invested, felt more tension, sat on the edge of my seat more than I already had? Of course, I couldn’t figure it out. When reading for pleasure, I’ve discovered I’m not analytical in the slightest. I just read and if I enjoy it, I enjoy it, and if I don’t, I don’t. Usually, I don’t really understand the reasons behind my emotional responses until I start writing the book review. And in this case, I’m already familiar with how these authors have written the books that own my heart and I already love them to the point where I can’t figure out which version would be more powerful and create more tension.
That’s where you come in.
I’d love to hear what you think on this matter. I’m not even looking for an answer for what I should do with my own work (though these answers will definitely be in the back of my mind whilst I’m editing, with my beta’s feedback in the forefront). I’m mainly really curious to get your opinion as to what you think the best relationship is between tension and POV, particularly multiple POV. Any and all comments, thoughts, musings or ideas would be so appreciated! Please leave them below so other readers can see what the masses are thinking and perhaps we can get a dialogue going! 🙂
Thank you in advance for your time and feedback! And please, feel free to share this post, if you’d like!