Point of View

I write from one perspective. All of my novels are told from the point of view of one character only—the heroine. I do that on purpose, and I’ll tell you why.

  1. With a romance, I feel like dual perspective can slow down the story-telling. You end up rehashing portions of the same action from both points of view. That can turn into more words telling less of a story.
  2. If I were to do dual perspective, I would need to write half of the book from a male point of view, and I simply don’t think I’m good enough at that to commit to it.
  3. My biggest reason, though, is this: My books are—first and foremost—romances. The big question that is going to be answered at the end of the book is always:

HOW WILL THEY END UP TOGETHER?

 

I’ve read a lot of romances that are dual perspective. You get the girl’s point of view, and then it switches to the guy, and so on. This allows you to see how and why they fall in love with each other. A lot of great authors write that way, and many readers enjoy it. Dual perspective definitely has its advantages. But as I’ve given this subject a lot of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that if the main question of my book is WILL THEY END UP TOGETHER? Or maybe DOES HE REALLY LOVE HER?, then the best way to create doubt, mystery, and uncertainly is for the reader to see, hear, and know only as much as the main character sees, hears, and knows.

For example, if Jane sees John (the guy she likes) sneaking off to have a private conversation with another girl, it’s a lot easier for us to understand and empathize with Jane’s feelings of rejection/uncertainly/anger if we don’t have any clue why he’s sneaking off with that other girl.

However, if it switches points of view and we then see that John is actually meeting mystery girl to pick up a necklace that he special ordered from her, and that this necklace is intended for Jane, readers no longer have reason to worry and stress along with the heroine. We are reassured that John likes Jane and we know that Jane’s doubt is unfounded.

That’s a problem if the main suspense in the story is the question of whether or not their relationship will work out. We, as readers, say, “Phew! He likes her. What a relief,” and the suspense is cut off at the knees.

That’s not to say that dual perspective romances don’t or can’t work. It’s just a choice. I like the suspense of wondering, both when I write and when I read. That’s why I choose to stay in the heroine’s head, allowing the reader to experience the vulnerability and excitement that comes along with not knowing.

So, I invite you all to join me in the not knowing.

**My newest book, If I Could Stay, was released last week and is available on Amazon.

$0.99 Summer eBook Sale!

Heads up! Just Ella is part of a multi-author summer promotion. All 57 of these books are only $0.99! June 19th-22nd.

BE SURE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE HEAT RATINGS! These books run the gamut, so be sure to grab those that you will enjoy.

heat 1 Nothing but sweet kisses, no language, mild violence
heat 2 Passionate kissing, minimal mild language (a.k.a. Bible curses), mild violence
heat 3 Closed-door sex, moderate language, moderate violence
heat 4 Steamy sex with some description, some graphic language, some graphic violence
heat 5 Steamy sex with graphic description, graphic language, graphic violence

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Loving Your Characters

When I start reading a book, there are many factors that might prevent me from being able to immerse myself in the story. One of the biggest is unlikable characters. I imagine that’s the case with many readers, especially if you enjoy character driven books. We don’t want to cheer for a character that we just don’t like. Sometimes I don’t like characters because they’re boring, other times it’s because I don’t respect them. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that writing likable characters is essential for an author’s success.

What’s the first step to writing likable characters? You have to actually like them yourself. If you don’t love the characters you create, then how can you expect readers to love them? Continue reading

Empathy, Validation, and Vocabulary

I was contacted last week by a good friend of mine from High School. Abi does short interviews with all kinds of people on all kinds of topics using SpareMin. This week she wanted to interview different people about the value of literature and she asked if I’d have a couple minutes to talk with her. Of course, I said, “Yes!”

As I thought about the topic, there was no lack of ideas that came to mind, but the three that made their way to the top of my list were these:

  1. Books teach empathy.
  2. Books can validate our own experience.
  3. Books give us an emotional vocabulary.

In the interview with Abi, we only spoke about the first, so I wanted to expound here.

Let me explain.

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Books Teach Empathy

When we read books, we usually get inside the head of one or more characters. We get a detailed view of their situation and their reaction to it. Good books will make us sympathize with the character. Great books will make us empathize with them. A well-written book will immerse us so fully in the character’s plight, that we can’t help but feel what they feel. And because the situation and emotional responses that can be contained and explained in books are unlimited in their diversity, it gives readers a chance to experience, in some small way, the life struggles of a vast number of people.

Books Can Validate Our Own Experience

When we find a character that we can relate to, someone who has experienced what we’ve experienced, or felt what we’ve felt, it can make us feel less alone. I’m thinking especially of middle school and high school aged kids and young adults. Kids who are experiencing huge emotions for the first time and who might feel like they are completely alone in what they’re feeling can find validation and camaraderie with fictional characters. It can give them a chance to realize, “Hey, this character feels the same way I do; maybe I’m not crazy. Maybe I’m not wrong to feel this way. Maybe other people feel this way too.”

Books Give Us Emotional Vocabulary

Yes, they teach us just plain old vocabulary as well. However, I think the more important aspect is being able to learn how to speak coherently about our own emotions. If a reader can identify with and relate to a certain character, there is a good chance that the way that character discovers, identifies, and labels their emotions with in turn teach the reader how to identify and label their emotions. Books give words to feelings. Words that people, especially kids, will be able to use when communicating their feelings to others. Has that ever happened to you? You’re reading a book and the character suddenly drops this perfectly worded truth bomb that describes what you’ve been feeling, but haven’t been able to identify for who knows how long? That’s a powerful thing. It’s a gift.

Books are a powerful tool. They can teach us a lot about ourselves. And they’re cheaper than therapy. 🙂