The Struggle With Point of View

With just 10 days to go until the release of my new book, yes, I’ve already been writing another one. This new book is a project I started last summer. It seems terrible (to me) that it will be a year in July since I started writing the first draft and I don’t even have 40,000 words yet. I’m determined to finish the first draft this year though!

My new book being released next week is a murder mystery, and I had so much fun writing it that I decided to attempt to write another one. AND…I’ve been developing a new character who is an investigative journalist and also trans. I’d been saving her for a series I wanted to write (yes, a totally different project!), but since this current one isn’t going so well, I decided to introduce her into it a few weeks ago. That helped, but now the problem is point of view.

Each chapter is from a different person’s point of view. I started writing it last year in 3rd person point of view, but since I had multiple characters telling the story, I rewrote it in 1st person and named each chapter after the person who was telling that part of the story. I’d done this previously in my book ARE YOU SITTING DOWN? and it worked out well. The new book was going well again until I introduced my new character. She really wants to dominate the story, and she probably should if this is going to end up being the first book in her series.

But the 1st person point of view just isn’t working out! I should point out that my new book is written in 1st person, but there’s only one central character who tells the whole story. That seems to work out much better than having multiple people trying to piece a murder mystery together. So, what do I do?

For starters, I study the craft. I decided to reread one of my favorite books that has a similar structure, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. I’ve read it countless times and always come away with something new. It’s an excellent read in the mystery or thriller genre, and it’s told from the perspective of multiple characters too. But, it’s written in 3rd person!

The chapters are not named after the character who is telling the story either. The author, Thomas Harris, does a brilliant job of telling the reader who each chapter is about simply by naming them in the first couple of sentences. Here are a few samples:

Chapter 15 (first sentence): In East Memphis, Tennessee, Catherine Baker Martin and her best boyfriend were watching a late move on television in his apartment and having a few hits off a bong pipe loaded with hashish.

Chapter 21 (first sentence): Clarice Starling entered the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane at a little after 10:00pm.

So, what will I do to try to get this story moving? Should I rewrite it in 3rd person? Why not? I’m definitely one of those people who doesn’t give up too easily. It might take me years to write a book (yep, it has before), but if that means I have to stop and rewrite the whole manuscript from start just to try to push the narrative forward, I’ll do it. It took me ten years to finish a manuscript once and through the struggles, I changed the narrative and even changed the lead character from a man to a woman! So, am I starting over…again?

Yep! That’s what writing is all about: creating the best story possible. And there’s always lots of stops and starts. And sometimes, you just have to change your point of view.

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