Skip to content

POV REARING ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN

January 23, 2019

Not only does the subject of point of view (POV) come up a lot in the writer’s forums I participate in, but it’s always on my mind. This is especially true around the holidays, when I usually get a batch of icky bug books from Amazon.

As often happens, I have to resort to that huge you-know-who on-line retailer for my creature feature novels because the only game in town physical bookstore doesn’t carry them. As often as not, the big six rarely, if at all, publish icky bug. If they do, it’s the standard fare by Dean Koontz and Stephen King and a select few other authors. Granted, once in a while these guys and gals hit one out of the park, but not that often. Let me backtrack a bit. Koontz used to all the time, while to me, King never did until his latest one. That’s just me. Then again, I never considered their work that much creature feature except maybe Koontz’s earlier work.

There are plenty of other authors in the past that have snuck through in the big six, but nowadays, I have to slog through the science fiction/fantasy shelves only to waste most of my time and come away empty handed.

Hence, I can go on-line to you-know-who and have instant access.

The only drawback is that most of these tomes are self-published, or of self-published quality. That’s not a slam at self-publishing per se, but an indication that these authors don’t have to follow any rules. Not that the big six necessarily do, either, especially nowadays, but it’s a lot more blatant with self-publishing, especially with creature features.

WHAT I GET

I got a big box of Christmas presents, per my choosing, chock full of icky bug. Creature features galore! I read one that was outstanding. I personally know the author, and knew what I was getting. In this case, I wasn’t disappointed. Score one five star.

My next one was a killer shark feature. Uh…let me back up a bit.

I’ll tell you right up front. The very first thing I do is check the “Look inside” feature on each novel. I scan through it, just like I’d do in the bookstore. I check that it’s in third-person, past-tense. That’s my only requirement at the outset. I don’t go any deeper than that because I don’t want to spoil the potential surprises.

What that quick scan doesn’t tell me is how well the author handles POV. I get that once I dig deep onto the actual reading.

In the case of the first shark story (there were a few more), oh boy! This turned out to be everything I wanted in icky bug. Lots of monster (one each), and plenty of mayhem. The ending was redeemable as well. The problem was the horrid writing.

There was NO POV whatsoever! The author head-hopped all over the place, not only within chapters, but within scenes right down to within paragraphs and from sentence to sentence. There was no way to get invested in any character. The only thing that saved this story at all was the limited number of characters so that I was able to latch on to the two hero cops that were sort of the MCs. Unfortunately, one was so unlikable right until the very end that it was hard not to root for him to get eaten.

Not only that, but the grammar, syntax and typos were reeking of self-publishing quality. At least the cover was great.

The third one was an alien icky bug and just like the shark one, the POV was all over the place. The head-hopping wasn’t quite as bad, but it was still bad. There was no way to get emotionally involved in the characters because I couldn’t get inside their heads when all of a sudden, it shifted to another character, then back and then on to another character. To top it off, the ending was a bummer. Score another three star for that one.

The next one in this batch was marginally better, writing-wise, but the point of view was all over the place, just like the shark one. So goes the rest of the batch. There were a few gems mixed with the duds. I sort of enjoyed all of them, but the ones I really enjoyed had controlled point of view and survivors, not to mention decent editing.

This is really disappointing that the only way to get good creature feature stories is with the same old lousy omniscient and head-hopping point of view with no emotional investment in any of the characters.

It just plain sucks!

WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE FORUMS

There have been multiple discussions on the forums lately about point of view and their various forms. I get a lot of flack for my opinions.

The biggest one is “why limit yourself?”

Ah duh!

After 60+ years of reading, I’ve had plenty of time to experiment around and find out what works best and what doesn’t.

I know my limit for self-torture.

I suffer enough already just reading third-person omniscient. I’m certainly not going to suffer even more with first-person or anything present-tense.

Yet, I have all these authors pressing for first-person, and present-tense and what’s even worse, mixed POVs. I find that very annoying and jarring. I’ve seen that style used lately from the big six as well.

I can see a POV shift when it comes to maybe a diary entry if it’s kept short. However, entire chapters?

Sorry, that’s pushing things.

I CANNOT SPEAK FOR EVERYONE AND DON’T INTEND TO

There are plenty of you who do not see things my way and that’s fine. I will not buy your books. There are people who will maybe buy one of your books, and never again. There will be people who will become huge fans. That’s great.

I know I’m also not alone I my feelings.

I’m just presenting my side of things.

Third-person past-tense CONTROLLED POV is by far, at least to me, the easiest and best way to write.

You don’t have to agree, but after 60+ years of reading, I’ve found that when I read a book and it’s done right, I don’t feel like I’m reading at all. I feel like I’m escaping into another world, and the writing is not getting in the way of the story.

I’m not having to overcome the writing to get to the story.

It’s as simple as that.

It may not fit your paradigm and that’s fine.

I know for a fact it DOES fit for a lot of others.

Happy writing!

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: