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I WANT TO CARE ABOUT THE CHARACTERS

November 2, 2016

Say, folks, have we ever talked about POV (point of view)? Ha ha, okay, so accuse me of beating a dead horse! I can’t help getting on the bandwagon (hey, two clichés in a row) with this. I recently finished reading another book by the author I love to hate.

Yup, I’m a glutton for punishment.

I won’t mention the author’s name, but I’ve railed on his work before. The funny thing is that two books ago, I read another one by a different author that did the same thing.

PSEUDO-OMNISCIENT

To me, besides present-tense, this is a growing plague taking over the publishing industry. While it’s predominantly in self-publishing, it’s creeping into mainstream conventional books more and more.

By pseudo-omniscient, the point of view, isn’t truly from the omniscient viewpoint because it isn’t “god” looking down and observing what the characters are doing. Instead, the author is employing third-person deep point of view for each character. They’re going deep, but also head-hopping willy-nilly, with no discernable choice of character.

What does that leave us with?

WEAK EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT

When the point of view shifts from paragraph to paragraph, even sentence to sentence, there’s nobody steering the ship!

There’s nobody steering the ship!

How do you decide who’s the main character?

Well, you can’t because it’s a cast of thousands. When the author is going deep POV for everybody that shows up in the scene, you have to figure who predominates the scene or chapter, probably by the sheer number of lines that character has.

In other words, the main character is the one with the most lines.

What the hell?

WHO CARES?

Despite what the back cover blurb says, “So and so goes here and does this, and must surmount these obstacles…bla bla bla…” this person is so buried in the text by other characters, good luck picking them out of the mess!

I’ll tell you what, I certainly don’t care about the characters, the twenty, thirty, a hundred characters who all get deep POV lines. All I want to know is what happens.

I can sort of enjoy the story if it moves and it’s good, but as far as the people in it, they’re just noise.

A BAD TREND

Call me old fashioned, call me stuck in my ways if you want to. I just want good quality work out there that people can follow, understand and get the most enjoyment out of.

When you can’t even keep track of the characters or develop an emotional investment in any of them because of the noise, it’s a bit schizophrenic to me. Why bother?

Please consider one character POV per scene or chapter. Be easy on your readers.

Happy writing!

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