Jul 222014

alternate povI recently finished writing a novel… Or did I? That is a question we often ask ourselves, and in some cases that may revolve around a doubt that what we have is enough and whether a second point of view (POV) would improve our writing or distract from it.

This was the question I recently faced, and decided to stick to the single POV. To give you some context, my novel is tentatively titled “Moving On,” and is about a woman from Kyrgyzstan searching for a life in America after divorce as ethnic violence breaks out against her people back home. While I felt the story was complete at 55,000 words, some agents I was interning for at Folio Literary Management told me it was too short (without having read it). I didn’t want to simply expand on what I had, because I had worked to get it tight and felt adding new material would feel forced. Instead I thought that maybe some alternate POV chapters would be the answer and I set off to write a similarly themed story of an American guy who goes to Kyrgyzstan and experiences the violence that my original protagonist hears about. I thought this would be great, because we see both sides and we now have male and female protagonists, so readers from both sexes are covered.

However, upon much consideration I have decided to stick with the single POV for this novel. Perhaps the other POV chapters I wrote can be their own novel, connected but not a sequel. Or maybe I shorten those and make them a short story that, if published, I could use to promote Moving On. I have not decided what to do with those chapters yet, but the point is that the original novel, as imagined and written, seems to stand stronger on its own. The protagonist goes through her own journey and I don’t want anyone else sitting there going ‘hey, look at me too!’ This is Mohira’s story, and I’m keeping it that way. Regarding the question of 55,000 words being too few, I’m going to make it work.

Anyone who knows me probably thinks I talk about George R.R. Martin or Brandon Sanderson way too often. And maybe I do, but their writing is amazing! That said, I often find myself skipping certain POV chapters in their books, and even if I have gone back and reread those chapters, I always feel they were unnecessary and believe the books would have been stronger without. See “Elantris,” an amazing novel by Sanderson – I would put money on you mostly caring for one or two of the three POVs in that novel (but it is such an amazing novel, don’t get me wrong). Or how many of us would love to see a Martin novel only about Tyrion? That said, they had their artistic visions and they stuck to them. It was a decision I imagine they thought long and hard over.

If you are debating the alternate POV, definitely outline the heck out of it and start writing, but then really assess your material and make sure it is necessary. Some of you may believe my book would have been better with the alternate POV chapters included, but I have to stick to my artistic vision and put out there what I believe is the best I can offer.

As you enjoy your journey, I hope you do the same.

For further guidance, I have included links below to other blogs about writing multiple POVs:

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I studied fiction in the MA in writing program at Johns Hopkins and interned with Folio Literary Management and “The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review.” I have published short stories and poetry, as listed on www.JustinMSloan.com, and am a writer for Telltale Games. If you would like to keep in touch: Twitter @JustinMSloan Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Justin-M-Sloan www.linkedin.com/in/justinmsloan/

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  One Response to “Should I Write an Alternate POV?”

  1. Thanks for the pingback!

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