Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Post on POV

Current Project: Untitled RS
Status: On hold

There have been several blogs on POV in the last few weeks. Here is one more. I need to write a prologue for a finished manuscript and get the MS to an agent who requested revisions. For some reason I'm struggling to pick which character would present the strongest POV for the scene.

Quick background: The scene is during turbulence on a very small aircraft that is about to crash. Characters present are two pilots, a Federal Marshal, and a convict. The Marshal is terrified, the convict is rather calm, and the pilots are nervous but intent on their job. The convict is my villain in the story and has many POV scenes. The other characters die in the crash and have no POV scenes.

I have several choices. From a pilot POV, the reader would see the technical aspects of the plane's eminent demise and the pilot's observations of the praying Marshal and the serene convict.

From the Marshal's POV, the reader would learn of his current crime, his gambling issues, and his family. The reader would see the convict from the Marshal's POV, and I could drop some teasers about the convict to hook the reader. I like this angle, but I'm a little concerned that it could be confusing as the Marshal dies and has no other scenes.

From the villain's POV, I could drop a little back story that I've placed in a later chapter and give the reader a taste of his character.

Another idea I've tossed around is placing the prologue in first person. Either the villain or Marshal. The rest of the book is in third, but I've read some terrific first person prologues that reveal fascinating bits of character. Diana Gabaldon does this.

What's your favorite POV to write in and what are your thoughts on moving from a first person prologue to a third for the rest of the story?


Alice Sharpe said...

Interesting choices. I used a POV of a murdered character to start a book several years ago and liked it. He saw his murderer but the reader didn't.

First to third? Dunno. Gotta think about it.

I vote for the pilot. The temptation to stick in backstory with the marshall and the convict, I think, would gut the impact of a prologue. I like what you said about the pilot getting impressions of the characters (or co-pilot if he would a better opportunity?) It gives impressions the reader will take with them. When we learn more about the dead marshal, for instance, his praying will have a delayed impact. it also keeps it up in the air as to who is who.

The only trouble with the pilot would be him noticing things behind him when his focus would undoubtedly be on trying to save the plane so it would have to be impressions, things heard, a glimpse, and that might not lend itself to a really long prologue, but I like 'em short anyway, so there you go.

I would do what you are doing -- think it through, maybe even write one for each as they aren't long sections generally speaking, go for impact.

Paty Jager said...

I don't think I've read anything with two different POV's other than Danita's latest book.

Reading what you have in the post- Does the Marshal's back story have anything to do with the rest of the story? If it does then I would go with his POV as he also has information about your villain who will remain in the story.

If his back story that you comment on in this post isn't relevant to the story then I'd go with the cool calm convict and how he perceives the incident.

Or do like Alice suggested and play with each character's take on the crash and see what pops out at you.

My favorite POV is third person.

Good luck!

Bethany Gabbert said...

I've read a couple of first-to-third openings, and I don't particularly care for it as a reader. It's a bit jarring, which I think could go either way with an agent request--either it's fresh and new and grips them or it's jarring enough to take them out of the story.

Someone in the crash has to have essential information that will later come into play, correct? And you want to be sly about its reveal? The prologue needs to have something that will come into play during the big reveal IMHO. I read a lot romantic suspense and mystery, and I'm not a fan of prologue-as-back-story when that's its only purpose. There needs to be a tiny bit of something else that will become clear later on. If the convict's head would give too much away, I'd seed one of the pilots with the key observations; however, this may be too remote and impersonal. If the Marshall is never heard from again, I'd worry about the reader getting too attached. However, if his death is a key element of the ongoing story (i.e. someone is seeking vengeance for him, someone is at risk, etc.), then I like him as the POV. If the convict is the only character who continues forth, then I think he's the natural choice. However, a good trick is to ask yourself who has the most at stake during the crash? This is the party who is the most likely POV choice, unless you can better reveal the stakes through a different POV.

My two cents. I like first and third for different reasons (hence my post last week), but I'm rather partial to deep third.

Kendra said...

Alice. I love the idea of a murdered character starting the book. I am toying with the idea of writing the prologue a few times in different POVs. It shouldn't be more than a page or two.

Paty. The Marshal's back story is important toward the end of the book when it's revealed how he's intertwined with the villain and the hero. Gotta think this through...

Kendra said...

Bethany. You've made me realize I need to pick one key piece of info to hint at in the prologue. Hmmm...something not too revealing...but something to make the reader go "Aha!" later in the book.

Alice Sharpe said...

Bethany made an excellent point about the prologue revealing an essential piece of information for later use.

I used the prologue I mentioned before to give us a good glimpse of the victim in his own POV which helped define why just about anyone would want to kill him and also to reveal he knew his victim which set up the suspects...

Kendra said...

Lol, Alice. Great minds think alike.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Oh! Me! Me! (I've read the book in question and it's great!)

I'm glad you posted this. I thought the prologue should be from the pilot's POV, but after reading these comments, I think Alice is right. The pilot would be too fixated on trying to save the plane to really pay much attention is going on behind him.

I really like the idea of starting it from the marshal's pov, esp. since his info is important later in the story.

As for 1st to 3rd...I've never really seen this done, but that doesn't mean it can't be done well. I'm a fan of 3rd person more than first though, and if I were to pick up a book in the bookstore and flipped to page one to get a feel for the book, then see the prologue is in 1st person, I'd assume the rest of the book is as well. Something to think about.

Bethany Gabbert said...


What if you did both the convict's and the marshall's POV? I saw this done where the prologue is several paragraphs all in someone else's POV and then a little snippet as they die and you switch to villain. IMHO, the prologue needs to have something so important that the reader flips back to it and goes AHA! In historicals (which I also read in great number), the prologue usually just sets up the long unrequited attraction or shows the unrepentant hero being slightly more redeeming, but this really doesn't add value to the story. You want an un-skippable prologue.

Lisa Leoni said...

I haven't read through all the comments yet - so I apologize if this has been asked or answered. But, what's the purpose of the prologue? What is it adding to the story? Who has the biggest impact of that purpose? I am usually not super fond of prologues, but if they are showing something major, especially with the H/h, they don't bother me as much. So if it's something major for the book that can't be dropped in elsewhere, then I tend to prefer the hero or heroine having the POV. But I don't read a lot of RS so maybe the villian is better. This was no help, sorry! haha

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Kendra!

I haven't read this manuscript, so am coming from a "fresh eyes" perspective.

Just to play devil's advocate, why are you adding a prologue? Is there a key piece of info that cannot be discovered any other way?

If you did the prologue in first person, I'd expect that character to have a continuing and important role in the rest of the book. (That person could have died in the crash and still fill this role.)

Obviously, third person POV is my favorite, perhaps only because I haven't read many books in first person, so it's more familiar to me.

At the risk of having keyboards thrown at me. Would a narrator/omniscient (is that the correct term) POV work in the prologue? I used that POV in FEATHERS ON THE FLOOR to show what was happening with the four-year-old twins. I didn't think being in a four-year-old's POV would move the story forward for most readers, but I wanted to convey the kids' belief in angels and assure readers the twins were OK even after they were kidnapped.

Lots of good suggestions from others. I'll be interested to hear what you decide to do with this.

Bethany said...

I keep coming back to this thread b/c I'm fascinated with POV right now myself.

A neat variation on omniscient POV is do the POV of fate/death/luck. Just plain old luck has a POV if that's the most important thing to take away from the scene--that the convict just got lucky, or that what appeared to be luck wasn't at all.

Kendra said...

The prologue was suggested by the agent, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Easy enough to remove later if I or someone else doesn't like it.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Kendra, I LOVE your placeholder page. Wow. I just assumed it was a generic "this domain name has been parked" page, but this looks great!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

ROFLMAO. He assumed "romance writer".

*shaking head*