At the end of last year, an edit of my first ‘finished’ novel, Just Say It, highlighted a problem – multiple points of views. I largely ignored it, until I received the latest critique which not only highlighted the multiple POV’s issue, but it also pointed out that I was guilty of another writer’s crime, authorial intrusion. So I need to back off, and let my characters do the talking, but not all at the same time!
The writing process is a constant learning curve, and authorial intrusion was not something I had been thinking about during my current strict editing and revising regime – which has been going on for weeks. Well, it’s finally, hit home. I realise authorial intrusion in scenes or chapters is an irritation, as it stops the reader from feeling a part of what is going on.
As for using multiple POV’s, they can work if they are well executed but, head hopping from one character to another during the same scene or chapter, makes it much harder it is for the reader to identify with the individual characters. I love my characters, and I want them to come alive so, for me at this stage of my writing life, head hopping is something I will be avoiding.
So, I’m working on both the POV thing, as well as resisting the urge to butt in and explain to the reader what is going on. Both these basic errors, point to weak writing.
In June 2015, I decided that I had allowed my writing to drift for much too long. I had got into bad habits, i.e. sloppy writing. It is almost six years since making the decision to become a better writer, and It has been a journey, as well as a serious learning curve.
Early in 2019, I felt I was getting there after I received a glowing critique for one of my short stories, An Honest Review, which had been long listed in a competition, but in the critiquer’s summing up, she said:
“Your story certainly deserved its place in the long list. The reason it did not reach the short list? An Honest Review was charming and very readable and in its way perfect (except for a few surprising punctuation errors – wouldn’t it be a shame if you missed out on a prize for the sake of a comma?)”
Missing out on a prize for the sake of a comma? Never again. Enough is enough! I am serious about getting both Just Say It and The Secret Lives of the Doyenne of Didsbrook into print, and I need to get on with it.
Writing is a lonely business and I rely heavily on critiques to point out the errors that are holding me back, as well as feedback from all those long suffering beta readers who ploughed through some of the early drafts. You are, and have been, an essential part to helping me become a better writer.
This last critique, has not only galvanised me into making absolutely sure I don’t make any more of the errors I’ve made in the past, but it has also left me with the feeling that I am now moving forward with a great deal more confidence.