Novelists can fly free

Ever had that dream in which you can fly like a bird? I'm told by my psycholgist daughter that this is relatively common, signifying much not necessarily of interest here. But I've been thinking about a novelist's choice of viewpoint character/s - and that I am a bird dream definitely does relate to this.

When, years ago, I took up the writing of fiction in earnest, I read and absorbed a book on the subject by one Diane Doubtfire. In it she extolled the virtue of writing the entire novel through the mind of  a single strong viewpoint character. I took this very much to heart. It seemed to me that the writer should seek actually to be the lead character, so far as the reader is concerned, as opposed to the more common practice these days of seeing (relating) the action through the minds and perspectives of several or multiple characters. It seemed to me that by choosing the latter option the writer was elevating him/herself to some kind of godlike all-seeing presence - a presence made all too uncomfortably obvious to the reader. The reader should not, I thought and still think, have any interest in the writer or their opinions, only in the character and his/her opinions/actions.

Each of my novels to date are thus narrated through the mind of their respective single viewpoint characters.  Of course it is far more difficult to maintain pace, focus and therefore reader interest doing it this way because the writer has to be ultra careful not to attribute opinion or understanding out of place. If the viewpoint character is unknowingly heading for big trouble or final redemption the reader must be as shocked as that character when it actually happens.

Worst scenario of all when it comes to viewpoints in a novel is the one where the writer is in effect talking directly to the reader over the heads of his characters. You know the sort of thing; perhaps the character commits a crime and is at once excused, or the backgound explained, by the author because of something that happened years ago outside the scope of this novel. 

You may or may not know that right now I am writing a third novel provisionally called The Book. The first four chapters are written through the mind of a single leading character, Marie Mortlock. I'm presently on the fifth chapter. For the first time I have switched viewpoints to that of her injured husband, Ben Mortlock. It's like starting a new novel. On 30th April you can read the results - and the The Book thus far, by clicking over to  and subscribing free. If you do so now you'll only see chapters one to four, then will get the fifth on the 30th.

Writing a novel is an adventure. So is reading one. Come and share it with me; fly free as a bird.

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