Wednesday, November 28, 2018
WRITER 2 WRITER: MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW
Over the past three weeks, I’ve talked about writers should and should not do to make their books page-turners. Last week, I introduced the first of three techniques to try with your writing. Today let’s look at a second technique:
#2: MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW
When I first started writing for children about eleven years ago, I was told by a certain literary agent that books for middle grade readers must be written in a single point of view (POV). The agent explained that trying to keep track of more than one voice in a story was beyond the ability of most kids, that it would be too confusing.
This didn’t make sense to me. I’m a mother of five children, and I had seen for myself how they followed movies and video games with multiple story lines with ease. I decided the agent’s advice wasn’t giving contemporary kids, who are multi-tasking masters, enough credit.
At the same time, I happened to be reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Brown is the king of page-turners. I read that book in two nights because I literally could not stop reading it. And I asked myself why? So, I read it again and studied his techniques. One thing I discovered is that he switches between three points of view, weaving together three story lines that all converge at the climax. Dan Brown writes for adults, but I wondered why couldn’t this same technique be applied to a children’s novel?
So, I wrote my novel, The Rock of Ivanore, with several points of view just to prove it could be done. And guess what? Kids love it.
Today, writing from multiple points of view has become more acceptable in the world of children’s books. Most recently, Wonder by R.J. Palacio has taken the country by storm. This story about a boy with a disfigured face has six distinct voices. Above World and Mirage by Jenn Reese each have two POVs, as does Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid. The Candymakers by Wendy Mass has four.
Multiple points of view also work exceptionally well with adult fiction. Here is an exercise to try:
TRY IT OUT:
Write a brief scene (a paragraph to one page) from one of the perspective of one of the characters below. Use the following to get you started. Then re-write the exact same scene from a different character’s POV.
Prompt: Two characters argue over an object, each one claiming it belongs to him/her.
•12-year-old boy in a wheelchair
• 18-year-old girl with spiky blue hair
• middle-aged African American woman from the south
• 80-year-old homeless man
• school librarian
• famous action movie star
• twin siblings
• a scientist
• a young mother with three small children
Be sure to stop by next week for Part 5 of How To Write A Real Page-Turner, and discover the third and final page-turner technique!