Point of View and The Nun’s Dowry

Point of view (POV) in fiction is the perspective from which the story is told.  Two of my novels–The Kingfishers and Gods and Lesser Men–have one POV, the protagonist/narrator, told in the first person, which means only that which he perceives–with the occasional injection of authorial exposition–is available to the reader.  Other characters speak and act–in the third person–but the inner dialogue so important to fiction is “voiced” only by the narrator.  It is both intimate and limiting.  Lucifer’s Promise, currently nearing first draft stage, is told the same way.

However, stories can have several (multiple) POVs presented in the first, second (rarely), and/or third person.  Because multiple POVs usually require greater concentration on the part of the reader, the technique should be approached with caution, i.e., there should be a reason for it.  My first book, A Hollow Cup, has 2 POVs, a protagonist (Pete Johnson) who gets 70 percent of the story, and an antagonist (Luke Stanley) who gets the rest.  The idea is that the reader sees certain events unfold from two different perspectives.  For reasons dictated by plot, The Black Owls has 4 POVs.

I began writing The Nun’s Dowry in 2009.  At the time, I chose multiple POVs for three reasons:  First, although it is set in the late 1960s, there is a considerable history of New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana I wanted the characters to reveal rather than add by exposition.  Second, long-dead minor characters, whose stories could not be known by the relatively young major characters, are integral to the plot.  Third, I wanted to try my hand at the female perspective.

In the event, I lost control.  The “first draft,” more than 100,000 words, had 11 POVs.  knew who was who, and what each one’s purpose was, but only a highly-motivated reader could figure it out.  So–for the past several years, when I wasn’t working on something else, I’ve been revising The Nun’s Dowry.  It’s down to 87,000 words and 6 POVs.  It’s worth the effort because it’s really a good story, featuring a young, unserious man, two very different women and, yes, a nun (several, in fact).  I hope it’ll be finished sometime next year.

The New Hope Tour (cont’d)

This is a shot of the Old New Hope Cemetery, actually the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.  All the New Hope books spend time there, and it’s the scene of a climactic event in A Hollow Cup.


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