Ask any reader what makes a great book and most will say ‘the characters’. Yes, there are folk who read for the plot, but most of us read because we're interested in how the characters handle the twists and turns. We either love and root for the characters, or we hate them and want them destroyed.
Then there are the exceptions who often love the bad guy.
The Darkling from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is a case in point. I adore him. He’s my perfect book boyfriend. How sick is that?
But I digress…
As an author, getting into the heads of the character is the most difficult part of writing. Trust me, coming up with the story is dead easy. There are stories and worlds unfolding around us all the time. The challenge is finding the characters to inhabit those worlds.
In my experience, writing from a single POV is the easiest – and the most limited. Imagine if Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins had been written from a broader perspective. We would have been privy to the off-scene manipulations of Katniss. It would have given us fuller picture of her motives and I may have liked her more. And we could have been part of Peeta’s experience too. I think it would have made a better book. Just my view. I thought it interesting that the movie-makers shot The Hunger Games from a third person POV and not just from Katniss’s limited view.
I wrote Pledge from an omniscient POV because I thought it worked best for the story. Omniscient POV is not an easy one to work with because when you can see in everyone’s head at the same time, it’s difficult to keep up the mystery and tension. Some reviewers thought I did it well. And others didn’t get it at all. Omniscient is not a common POV these days, although some authors do use it. Garth Nix in the Abhorsen series is a case in point, although he does it with a very light touch.
With my reworking of Pledged into Battle Cry, I’ve decided on a third person limited POV. The story is told through the eyes of two main characters, Neo and Kiean. It's proving to be an interesting challenge. To work successfully, each character has to be a fully fleshed out individual. Neither can rely on the other to pull them along. But you could say that living/breathing characters are essential in any book. Too true. But with third person POV each character has to stand alone, telling a unique tale within the overall plot. And each story has to move the plot along, dovetailing the book to a breathtaking climax. Sounds easy? It’s not.
So how well do I know Neo and Kiean? They are opening up to me as we go along. Soon I will know them better than my biological children. (I hope my kids aren’t reading this blog) I plan to introduce them to you soon because they’re keen to meet you.
So I bow down in humble awe to the masters (and mistresses) who have done third person limited POV so well. Let me share some of my favourites with you….
Goodreads: Pushing The Limits
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.
Goodreads: Across The Universe
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
So what are some of your favourite third person reads? I'd love to know.