Writing Rule #2 – Truth or Myth?

Writing Rule #2:  POV – true or false?

One Dance with a Stranger by Mary M. Forbes

All advice I’ve ever heard when writing is keeping your Point of View in one person’s thoughts.  I mostly follow this rule but was amazed when my favorite romance author, Judith McNaught didn’t follow this and created one of the most poignant, sexy scenes between a couple in her story –  Something Wonderful.  It’s her heroine’s first kiss and she is not even slightly interested. Her hero is well aware of his charm and where kisses can lead.  The thoughts jump back and forth between the hero and the heroine.  McNaught broke the POV rule to create a unique, memorable kiss.   

Resources – Point of View (POV)

I find Point of View a very confusing lesson when studying the craft of writing.  It is often advised in guidelines for publishing companies and when someone is teaching the craft of writing.  I understand the concept well enough. I can’t grasp the reason.

However, I have seen many examples of writing where they don’t apply this rule and it works well.  In my own genre – Romance – the perfect example is my favorite author – Judith McNaught.  The first of her books I read was her “Something Wonderful” which made me fall in love with her outstanding writing skills.  In  Something Wonderful there is a scene that worked so well – the first kiss between the hero and heroine where McNaught jumps back and forth between their thoughts.  It is beautifully written – but definitely begs the question – why is it not accepted – when Judith’s doing this enhanced the book.

Back on track, to learn this questionable rule I found the easiest way was to write in first person – then insert a name.  It is difficult to write another’s thoughts when writing the story this way.  You can assume, think, appear but you can never say what another is thinking.  You can see actions, but you can’t know for sure why he/she is acting this way.

Carol’s (Malibu Dreams Photography) picture I used when I designed my cover for One Dance with a Stranger.

One Dance with a Stranger - coverSo if you have difficulties with Point of View (whatever the reason) use the ‘first person’ tool and it will guide you through the process. But I still don’t understand why this is such a problem for publishers or critiques when writing genre.  I have been told the reader can become confused.  I agree too many characters in a short period of time might be difficult to ‘follow or understand’ each character, but  I have seen some writer’s handle this very skillfully and tie everyone together in a wonderful manner.  But (sigh) I guess until I learn that skill I will make every attempt to learn the process of Point of View when writing genre novels.  I will also try to understand the importance.