Friday, February 11, 2011

Writing Multiple Points of View

Why do I write in multiple points of view (POV)? Is it because I have many voices in my head? Well, sorta, but not quite. It's because Life and Journalism have taught me that the true story--as Paul Harvey used to say, "the REST of the story"-- is found in the eyes of many people, not just one. Here's an example:

I may go through my day, driving down the road and being cut off by a guy (his wife just left him), and then going to the grocery store where a clerk is slow and making me late (she suffers damage from childhood brain cancer) and then on to school to deal with a difficult child in class (she's been to as many schools as she is years old and is uncomfortable starting a new one). What if I knew the rest of the story? Sadly, I rarely do. I would simply say, "I drove down the road today and was cut off by a guy, then I chose the wrong line in the grocery store because this slow clerk was making me late for school, and then I had to deal with this really difficult kid. What a day." But you see? How self-centered is that? What if we were able to think not only of ourselves, but about other people? What if we took the time to ask people how they are doing, what's their story, why are they the way they are? Might we have more empathy, compassion, grace, and patience? Might our perception of reality be closer to real than if we stayed in our own little head?

This is the power of the Author, the Creator of story.

And this is why I write multiple points of view as I did in my latest novel, The Inheritance of Beauty. As I was writing George, Maggie, Ash, Annie, and Joe, they came to me and told me their stories, often one right after the other. It's thrilling to write that way and I hope, thrilling to read that way, too. I want my readers to care about not just one, but all my characters. The best way to care is to understand. And the best way to understand is to walk in someone else's shoes. And oh, how amazing it would be to find out that the story-- our stories, in fact-- are not just about one person, us, but about anyone who has ever come in contact with us. What a majestic, powerful story that would be!

So what are your favorite novels or books told in multiple POV? And what's your story? Have you ever tried to tell it in multiple points of view? If not, I dare you. You might just come closer to the truth.

God bless and happy reading!