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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Yet Another Way I Torture Myself: Point of View

I apparently like to torture myself by never writing the same style of book more than once. While all four of my novels focus on history's forgotten women, the way I've told those stories has differed from book to book. 

The Secret History told Theodora's story from a first person point of view. That was both because the first line of the story--"My life began the night death visited our house"--jumped into my head and also because the reader really had to experience Theodora's rags to riches tale from inside her head. 

Daughter of the Gods is all third person, narrated from Hatshepsut's POV, although it started off alternating between Hatshepsut, Senenmut, Aset, and Thutmosis. The other POV's were shed when it became apparent that this was Hatshepsut's story and no one else's. I'll probably never write another book from third person, but I'm such a fan girl of Hatshepsut's that I honestly couldn't presume to write as if I was inside her head. (Although if I had a time machine, she's the #1 person from history I'd go back in time to meet.) 

The Tiger Queens is the book that almost killed me. Part of the reason for that is because the book is told by four different women, split into four separate sections. Trying to figure out where one woman's section ended and another began had me banging my head against my laptop on more than one dark winter's night. Not only that, but the four women are extremely different, with different religions and coming from different cultural backgrounds. That meant more and more research. 

The Conqueror's Wife has brought me back to alternating viewpoints, all told in first person. This will include my first male narrator (since Senenmut's sections in Daughter of the Gods were cut), a Persian princess, Alexander the Great's wild younger sister, and a super villain. I love them all, but jumping from writing a chapter in one voice to a totally different voice in the next has me wanting to throttle some of them. Or myself.

So why do I do this to myself? First, because I get bored writing in the same style. (Let's keep in mind how many times I have to read each of these books during the revision process. I think I read Daughter of the Gods about 37 times.) Second, because that's how each of these stories needed to be told. Hopefully my next book will use one of these formats and make my life a little easier.


Amalia T. Dillin said...

The real question is -- how many times have you had to switch the PoVs back and forth between first and third before you make up your mind :)

Judith Starkston said...

Yup. POV is always a killer. I'm trying to juggle 3 different POV in the mystery I'm writing and it's a pain in the tush. Actually since the villain involves more than one guy, now that I think about it, there are 4 POV. You see, I can't even keep it straight! I sympathize with your agony. I tend to do my metaphorical head hitting on something harder than my laptop :)

Renee said...

I think you have a great talent for different POV's. Especially in The Tiger Queens. The different POV's came through loud and clear. And I should know!

Miranda Hardy said...

I like to change things up a bit, too. Can't help it.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Amalia--Even worse was when I was drafting The Tiger Queens in first and then editing Daughter of the Gods in third. It took a while to get into the groove when going back and forth.

Judith--I feel your pain!

Renee--Awww... Thanks! :)

Miranda--I think changing it up helps keep us on our toes, and hopefully make us better writers!

Amalia T. Dillin said...

Oh man, I can just imagine! The back and forth would have been a nightmare! (And after working over Helen, I am finding it hard to remember that my second Orc book is written in THIRD person.)

Ouran_Otaku said...

Okay, I probably missed some kind of announcement along the way, but after seeing that your next book is going to be about Alexander the Great I am way too excited. I think I'm going to end up with all your novels on my favourites shelf.