Voice Trumps Everything

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My WIP novel has hit a snag. I was just writing along, following the plot I outlined, concentrating on using strong scenes this time, when I came to a curious section.

Choosing a Point of View Character

Here the main character (MC) needs to be housebound because of a flu epidemic. But the plot requires several events to be happening. Fortunately, the secondary character (SC) is still moving around and could do these events, but then there’s the question of whose POV to use?

NOT the MC, because he won’t be there. But I’ve been writing all this story in 3rd person MC’s POV. Now, two-thirds of the way into the story, I need to use the SC’s POV. And it came out in 1st person. OK. That can happen. A story can have some chapters in 3rd, some in 1st. But then, I rewrote the SC’s POV, trying for an edgier voice and — WOW, I found a great voice for this story.

I’ve been trusting the process to find the voice I needed for the story and suddenly, there it is. But it’s in the SC’s POV. I’ve tried the Voice in the MC’s POV and it works. But does that mean I’ll write alternating POV chapters? If so, how do I distinguish between the MC’s and SC’s voices?

So, I’m struggling. I can’t move on until I make some decisions, because POV and Voice determine so much of a story. It’s not a matter of just “translating” what I’ve done into the new Voice.

Voice Trumps Everything

At this point, I’ve got to revisit some basic decisions about the story, because Voice trumps everything.

So, here are some of the basic questions I’m re-visiting:

  • Whose story is this? Who hurts the most and has the most at stake?
  • Will the story work with alternating POV? If so, who is the lead character?
  • What is the main story I want to tell? If I add in the SC’s POV, then how much more story development does that POV need? I would imagine lots, but the story is already long enough and doesn’t need more length. I’ll need to refocus the story.
  • Can I return to what I’ve already got, but replot so the MC can be moving around during that flu epidemic? Do I really need to do all this change? If I stick with the original, will the Voice change be enough? Will it really work for the MC, instead of the SC, where it originally arose?

It’s unsettling times for this story, but there’s no looking back. Voice trumps everything, so I’ve got to tackle this head on and not avoid it. It’s a major detour, but a necessary one.

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2 Comments
  • Sherrie Lorance
    November 20, 2008

    Thanks for sharing your POV struggles, Darcy. Your articulation of the choices helps me to look more closely at my WIP.

  • darcy
    November 20, 2008

    Thanks, Sherrie. It’s interesting to forge ahead at this point, not sure of how it will turn out. Trust the process, she says confidently. But when I start in, it sure feels scary.

    Darcy