I write fiction as well as memoir, and just completed the first draft of a novel titled Call Her Home. There are four point-of-view characters, and one of them is a dog.
The process of envisioning and birthing a fictional story is another way I write myself alive. Every aspect of the story is born out of who I am, formed from all the experiences I’ve undergone.
I write about disability because of raising my beautiful, differently-abled son. I chose an Irish wolfhound/Scottish deerhound mix for my character because I’ve lived in harmony with both of those splendid breeds.Their natures are so familiar to me. I write about human/dog communication because I’ve felt since I was a toddler that my dogs could communicate telepathically, but somehow I’ve lost the capacity. So I’m driven to imagine what that might be like.
My male protagonist, I realized a few weeks ago is, in psychologist C. G. Jung’s words, my animus. The main female character has qualities of both myself and my mother, but is qualitatively different from both of us. The eleven-year-old girl is the daughter I never had.
I write about car accidents because I’ve had two serious ones: in the first, about thirty years ago, my little Red Fiesta ended up on its passenger side. Last year, my Prius landed on its roof–due to a texter–the car reduced from an efficient mode of travel to a dead beetle. Miraculously, no one suffered severe injury in either accident. I chose Oregon for the story’s setting because I lived in Eugene for twenty years, and traveled a few times to teach in Bend.
Whether you are writing memoir or fiction, your reader is introduced to your story through one of your character’s eyes. This is called the point-of-view character–we see the world being created with words through this point of view. We know the thoughts and feelings of this character, but not the others who populate the story. For people who are just beginning to write, I encourage writing with only one point-of-view character. The next task is learning to control your writing so the story is told through one set of eyes alone. This is not as easy as it sounds.
Notice as you reread your scene:
- Are you, as the reader, privy to the thoughts of more than one character?
- Can you look through more than one characters’ eyes?
- Do you know the inner feelings of more than one character?
If the answer is yes, you have not successfully contained the point of view. Return to your writing with a different eye. Reread the scene, and mark each place you find a POV shift from one character to another. This will make your rewrite easier.
There are many seasoned authors who write from multiple points-of-view successfully, but tackling a first manuscript with more than one POV is like trying to control a team of horses before you even learn to ride.
I learned the hard way. You don’t have to!
© Skye Blaine, 2015