Saturday, 18 December 2010


Perspective is an interesting thing. If you’re writing in first person or personalised third person, it’s easy to only see the story from your MC’s view. You consider other characters’ point of view and their reactions, but it's not until recently that I've realised how limited this can be.

There have been so many times during editing where I’ve thought of another scene or additional information I would love to include, but because it is about my MC or separate from my MC’s story, I can’t always include it. While scenes like this can be annoying to think of – as you can’t give any context to the reader, only yourself – it is good for adding in details and as a basis for major/minor characters which may have otherwise been left out.

To treat myself after working so hard to get my second draft finished, which included a lot of rewriting, chopping and changing scenes, I’m currently writing something connected but different. It’s RW rewritten – in the perspective of another character. Not only this, but the major character whose POV I’m writing is male rather than female like my protagonist. It was an idea which kept bugging me during editing; I kept thinking of what he would think about during a certain scene or secret conversations my MC couldn’t be party to.

I thought it would be harder to write than it is. Actually, it's one of the easiest things I've ever written. Probably because I don't have to think too much about plot line - I've already created it. All I have to do is add in a few extra scenes and rewrite some conversations from his perspective, which has been incredibly fun to do. But I’ve learnt so much more about my characters this past week whilst writing. Not just the character I’m writing in – I’m writing it in first person like RW – but other minor characters I may not have focused on as much before. I can’t believe how much I’m discovering about them that I never knew! It seems crazy to only be finding this out now, seeing as my next project I want to tackle is the third and final novel in the series.

This will only make editing the second novel in the series easier. I'll have a better idea of their motivation, and I'll be more considerate to other characters' thoughts. I retweeted Therese Walsh the other day, saying ‘even at this late stage, my characters keep surprising me. I love that’. It’s true! My characters never fail to surprise me with the things they throw at me, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop being grateful for it. This is yet another thing I'm thrilled to discover.

Considering another perspective in your story can expand a novel so much. Even if this side project might never be read, it’s still going to let me express so much more of who my characters are and it’ll be easier as I know them better than before. What started as a reward has turned into an incredibly helpful writing tool. I’m not saying I’ll rewrite my first novel from my other series (I’m not even going to think about that, otherwise I’ll end up writing it!), but it will definitely be something to consider for any future editing.

I might do another post on how writing male voice has been for me instead of female soon. It came up on Jessica Lei’s blog, and I definitely have more to say on it. Any thoughts on this, or male perspective vs. female?


  1. That DOES seem fun. Have you ever seen the mess that is J.K. Rowling's plotting? I recreated something similar in Excel (me and Excel have become friends recently). I have scenes going down on column (with descriptions of what'll happen), and then I have major characters next to it. I can track what my MC does in one column, and then what the other two male MCs are doing in the other columns.

    It's really kind of helpful. I learned a lot about THEIR story within my female MC's story. It really helps me when I need to write something for them. What just happened to them really influences their thoughts/actions in the following scenes.

    It's also helped me realize that there is really important information within these scenes my female MC can't ever get in on. BUT if I play it right, I should be able to show it in other ways. But if I know what "IT" is, then it's a lot easier to find alternative methods of discovery. If I don't, then... not happening.

    I'd love to hear what you think on the differences between male & female perspectives :)

  2. All of my novels have been from the female perspective, except one. It was challenging to write, not so much because of the male MC but because he is often the only person in a scene. The first draft was in third person past tense, but I found I was doing too much telling as the narrator. In revisions I changed to first person, and it made a huge difference. Along with a photo taped to my monitor to remind me of who he was, I found it much easier to get into his mind and let my words express what he was seeing and experiencing. Much better for "show, don't tell." :)

  3. Jessica: I didn't actually know she plotted like that; Scott Westerfeld has a similiar system. Unlike you, Excel is not my friend. It makes me want to run screaming back to my word document and my timeline, which is incredibly useful to keep track of what's happening in the plot, but not around my MC. If it works for you, then it sounds like a great idea! I've created a timeline for my side project as well, but I might have to be more expansive in my plotting.

    That's what I'm trying to do now, as I know what's happened in other aspects of the story, so I can try intertwine it into the plot in a way that won't be confusing and will imply what actually happened. Just having the knowledge and background is helpful.

    Carol: I'm the same, this is the first novel I've ever written in a male rather than female perspective. I've written in third person present tense, and I was going to do first person for that novel, only I realised third person would give a much more comprehensive view on everything, especially as it involved more major characters than I usually include. Getting the right perspective can make a story so much easier to write.

    I think showing instead of telling is a lot harder to do, as we naturally try to explain where we're coming from for fear we won't be understood. When you get it right it definitely creates a better impression on the reader, and helps you when your creating the novel.

  4. Writing from a male POV was very very different the first time around.

    And yeah, I always wind up writing these little vignettes and short stories about my secondary characters. Not afterward, but during.

    I didn't know JK Rowling used Excel to plot like that either. It might work, I don't know. But I am using Storybook for those plotting purposes so . . .

  5. Sonia: Yes, I definitely think it is something you have to adapt to, especially when you're so used to writing in a female perspective.

    It can be really helpful simply just to show you more about the character themself. Plus, it can be a great stress reliever when your current project is driving you crazy.

    I think everybody has their own little ways of tracking plot that works for them. As long as you have some way of showing which route your plot is taking, whether its an outline or a spreadsheet or however, you'll have a more cohesive plot for it. I couldn't write anything without a method of plot-tracking, that's for sure!

  6. LOL I am only just recently starting to get into tracking plot. Before I had a notebook full of character outlines and world building stuff and notes and what have you but organized it was not.

  7. Sonia: The first thing I ever attempted to write (I never finished it, so I don't count it as my first novel), I got half way through without any sort of plot tracking method. Then I read on Scott Westerfeld's blog about the joys of timelines. It completely changed my plot process, and I'm so thankful it did - I'm much more organised now!

    I also keep a notepad for things concerning scenes and plots, but only loosely to jot down ideas. I scribble down ideas everywhere and anywhere in it, so I'd have a lot of trouble trying to piece it all together if I used it as a real tracker. At least we've both seen the light!