From where I stand

So far, so good this summer.  I’m meeting my writing goals, my first published children’s story is nigh, and I’m managing to cook only a little less than usual despite not having cooking gas for the past six weeks.  (That last one is more important than you know.  No stove/oven means no baking.  Cooking on a two burner hotplate is not for sissies.  Especially when deprived of brownies.)  But – you knew there was a but coming – I’ve hit a bump.

Nope, not writer’s block.  That old saw about practice?  Well, it’s right.  Practice might not make perfect, but it DOES make performing – writing, cooking, yoga, triple flips off the high board – easier.  I am definitely not blocked.  Stumped occasionally, but then I just skip to a different scene in my novel, et voila! More words. My roadblock?  Constructive criticism.

Recently, I received some excellent constructive criticism – which I asked for, mind you – from a writing buddy.  When I began my novel, I switched the point of view between two main characters.  It felt natural, and honestly, it kept those words flowing.  After all, this is a FIRST DRAFT.  Meaning I will be revising.  And rewriting.  The good advice?  Stick to one POV, that of the main protagonist.  I actually agree with this – for the most part.  I’ve recently read novels that successfully switch points of view – the incredible Code Name Verity even does it two-thirds through the story – but I’m not sure I can pull this off.  especially as I have to keep reminding myself a) to switch and b) to do it in a natural place.

Oh, yes, the dilemma!  Sorry, I’m a little scattered these days.  Not enough homemade brownies.  And it’s amazing how hard it is to come up with dinner ideas that are healthy and can be made on a two-burner hotplate.  (Yes, we’ve eaten plenty of salads and sandwiches the last several weeks.)  But back to my dilemma:

Do I complete this draft, continuing to switch POV?  Or do I simply switch horses mid-race and write the rest of the draft in a single POV?  After all, I will be revising.  Later.  Once I finish this dratted draft.  Which brings me to my final point:

When I finish this draft, I will have written a novel.  Recently, my daughter made a comment about how she was looking forward to seeing my book on the shelf next to Percy Jackson, her latest fave.  I told her that that might not happen – just because you write the book doesn’t mean it will be published.  If it’s published, it likely won’t be a best-seller.  (I aspire to be a midlist author, not JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins or even Rick Riordan.  I would, however, give my recently repaired right arm to be Kate DiCamillo or Rebecca Stead.)  When she was disappointed, I told her what all parents tell their kids, that it’s the doing that’s important, not the reward.

You know what?  I realized that that was true.  While I will work like the dickens to get this book published once it is finished, in the end, all that matters is that I will have achieved one of my dreams.  I will have written a novel.



8 thoughts on “From where I stand

  1. I agree with your sentiment, Leslie, and you know…my thinking is you should finish the rest of the novel from the one POV, but finish it. Don’t rewrite now, starting from scratch with the one POV, and why write more from both POVs and give yourself even more work. Besides, you’ll have gotten more used to writing the way you will ultimately rewrite. Make it easier on yourself and you’ll be that much closer to the “DiCamillo” spot on the shelf 🙂

  2. By the way, due to the fact that I CAN’T cook with gas (my sensitivities) and don’t have electric ovens here, you can get yourself a toaster oven and make small things that way 🙂 I’m an “electric double burner” girl for about 20 years now, and am a big fan of my old electric frying pan (now buried and irreplaceable) 🙂

    1. Thanks for both pieces of advice, Donna! Sadly, there’s no room in our kitchen for the toaster oven – I love them too. It really is a NY kitchen. Supposedly ConEd is coming on Tuesday to give the OK to turn on the gas… I’m still trying to find storage room for an electric frypan in case this happens again!

  3. Should you switch POVs? Well, typically a YA is in one POV, but nothing is a hard and fast rule in this business if it works. Having said that, the person with the most at stake in the scene should be the POV character. If you switch midway through the book then you do. But, don’t go from two POVs to only one. Your reader is going to say, “hey, what happened to…” Write the novel the way you feel it should be in your heart. When your heart is on the page it’s always a winner.

    1. Actually, Stacey, maybe I misunderstood…I thought what Leslie meant was should she finish the first draft using only one POV, then go back and rewrite the whole thing that way. I agree, you shouldn’t actually leave the book as two POVs for half, then the rest with one POV.

  4. I’d vote for finishing it as is, unless your intuition is crying out to you to change it right away. It sounds like you’ve developed good momentum with what you have, and I’m sure you’ve delved into the psyches of your characters, so rewriting at this point may be a tall order (having to eliminate all the thought processes, perceptions, etc., of the second character.) I’d finish ‘er up and then, if you want, start fresh from a single POV.

    Btw, I just started “The View from Saturday,” (which I can’t believe I’ve never read–and if you haven’t, I’m betting you’d love it) which bounces back and forth from first-person limited for several characters, to third person omniscient, and back again, and does it beautifully. Like Stacy said, nothing’s hard and fast if it works.

  5. I vote for starting the next chapter in one POV. But if when you start the following one you accidentally fall into the second character’s voice, maybe you just write. Maybe there is part of the story only that character can tell for you.

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