I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had readers complain (well, maybe not complain, but voice their opinions) about a specific point of view I’ve used in a book. For the hell of it, let me tell you a few of those opinions, but then I’ll tell you why I’ve chosen the POVs I have for the books I’ve written.
One reader gave one of the Bullet books a one-star rating because the first book (Bullet) was first person from Valerie’s perspective. In case you didn’t know, Rock Bottom and Feverish are third person dual perspective and Fully Automatic is third person from Brad’s perspective. This reader was pissed because, she said, if I wrote the first book in first person, they should all be written in first person, because that was the only kind of book she could get into. I think she even said that maybe that one-star rating would teach me to stick with first person. Nope. ‘Fraid it didn’t. It just pissed me off that she didn’t give the book a fair chance and then lashed out at me to boot.
Most readers are far more kind. One reader lamented that Be Careful What You Wish For was first person perspective from Jessica’s POV, and she really wanted to read Kage’s side. She wanted to know what was going on in his head at this point or that point. Another reader recently said she’d love (down the road) to know what Sean is thinking in the Nicki books. I completely understand wanting to know what other characters are dealing with, which is the main reason I chose to write Fully Automatic.
Let’s talk about point of view. Sometimes I choose a particular point of view because it’s easier for me to get into it as a writer (Then Kiss Me is the perfect example. I don’t think I could have written that book any other way). Most times, though, the POV serves the story. Let me explain a few of my choices, in case you were curious. It is not something I take lightly, as I feel POV serves the story.
- Bullet I wrote as first-person perspective, because I wanted readers to feel close to Val. I wanted them to really feel like they were part of the story, and oftentimes I think first-person perspective accomplishes that mission better than third-person (although close third-person, when done right, can do the same thing). I don’t think I was one-hundred percent successful, though, because many readers hated Val, thought she made poor choices, didn’t understand why she stayed with Ethan, etc. I also hoped that her age would explain a lot of that, but…you can’t please everyone, right? I still stand by my choice, though. I don’t think Bullet would have been as powerful if told from third person POV.
- Be Careful What You Wish For. This book too I wrote from that POV, because I was dealing with very delicate subject matter, one that readers would dismiss and be angry about right off the bat (cheating). I knew going in that the only way to get readers to be on Jessica’s side was to help them understand first her desperation and second the deep connection she felt for Kage. Then, once the story is well underway, Jessica feels deep doubts, and she fears that Kage might be cheating on her. I wanted you as the reader to wonder it too and to have your suspicions. If you could see inside Kage’s head with dual-person perspective, you would have known exactly what he was thinking and doing and then there would have been no suspense. Makes sense, right? I wanted to explore the notion of trust as well as show how history and a little doubt can absolutely poison a relationship. I don’t think it would have worked as well if you’d known exactly what Kage was thinking and feeling and doing. I could have, I suppose, written it from third-person POV, sticking solely with Jessica’s perspective, but again—first person just felt right. I wanted you inside her head, and I think that was a good choice. I know…not everyone will agree with me. But know this—“hiding” information from readers can help build tension, doubt, mystery, and intrigue and, many times, that’s why I do it.
- Fully Automatic I wrote because so many readers begged to know Brad’s story. What was he thinking? What was he feeling? I didn’t want to just write a retelling, though, so I gave a lot of his back story and also focused more on what Brad was doing outside the Bullet story. You still saw his POV on things that happened in Bullet, of course. There was no way to avoid that and, really, what the hell kind of book would it have been if none of the story was present in Brad’s POV? Needless to say, I still got a few complaints. This time readers said it was merely a retelling of Bullet. Yeah, I had to bite my tongue a few times. I need to continue reminding myself that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and not everyone is going to like every book I write.
I will probably never write from various other perspectives simply because I find it confusing as a reader. For example, I’ve read a couple of books told in first-person but from dual perspectives. I’ve found that quite confusing. You all know I have a hard enough time writing from the male perspective anyway. I don’t dare throw first person into the mix, no matter how compelling it may feel. I have—in my deep, dark past—written in omniscient third-person POV, but it seems too cold and distant for my type of writing. Even when I write third-person, I like to hover close to my characters, if that makes any sense. I want you in their heads and hearts.
And, speaking of, I have a book I need to finish writing. Happy reading!