26 August 2007

Thinking about POV

Once again, I love Crapometer and its thought-provoking comments. When someone questioned me recently about an opinion, I thought, yeah, why do I really think that? To my surprise, I actually had legitimate reasons backing my opinions. You can tell me different if you want. I love when readers and writers make me think!

I'll have to think about that whole POV thingy... When someone tells me what readers want- I need to ask "How do they know?"

I don't know if this is directed at me, but I can answer why I think the way I do about POV. Most of my opinions derive from the experience of editing a short story magazine and reading other magazines. I'm fairly confident that what I think is widely accepted because I'm not a one-woman show at Electric Spec; I work with two other highly competent, professional, published authors. In the process of reading the magazine I read a slush of 20+ stories per month. I also speak regularly with several editors, by virtue of my own submissions and just plain ole internet chatter.

But I heard Robert Sawyer talk about POV recently and it really put words to what I already knew. He spoke about the mentality of people today, especially those in America and other free-thinking, free-press countries. We no longer just take something for granted as Truth just because someone in authority (ie--an omniscient voice) tells us it is so. Consider the news (CNN, argh!): We try to understand the bias so we can filter through what is said and not said--sift through opinions and agendas find some semblance of Truth. Sometimes we even modify information to better fit our own Truth. (Wikipedia, for example.)

Thinking, feeling, opinionated readers need, by virtue of POV and character development, to understand the particular filter through which they view the author's world. That's why single POV can be so powerful, and also why effective multi-POV can be so difficult. Just like every scene counts, so does every POV. You have to consider, as a writer, what message you are trying to put forth by using a particular POV and what bias accompanies it. In short stories in particular, you've very little time to engage the reader to your way of thinking. Switching up POVs can be really disorienting and make the reader lose faith in your message and in their own ability to understand your characters' bias.

This is my opinion. I write and edit by my own opinions; others might have differing views. It's your job to figure out what works for you. Hope this helps.

I must admit I pulled 20+ number on the fly--we haven't added up this issue's submission rate yet. Right now, though, we have 30 stories in our inbox and that's just since August 7, so I might not be too far off!

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