[Skip to Content]
Home  »   Crime novels, mysteries,thrillers  »   Pauline Rowson  »   News  »   Blog  »   Subscribe   »   Where to buy  »   Talks  »   Contact  »   Rights
 

Writing a crime novel - mastering point of view (POV)

Getting the right point of view (POV) in a novel i.e. whose story is it, is one of the hardest things for a writer to grasp. You might think it fairly obvious in that it is the protagonist’s story but is it his (or hers) alone? Is there a single protagonist or more than one? Do you need to switch to telling the story from another character’s point of view, therefore making the novel, or story, a multiple point of view?

Then again there is the question of whether you are telling the story from the male point of view or the female viewpoint, or is it both?

A word of caution here, be wary of having too many points of view because that can not only muddle the story and slow it down but it can also confuse you, and more importantly the reader.

Finding the right point of view in which to tell the story can take time, and writers often experiment with several versions before they hit on the right one for them and for their story. It happened to me.

When I first began to write fiction, I wrote from multiple viewpoints with both male and female protagonists in the same story. This has the benefit of being able to switch to telling the story through other characters’ eyes, showing their thoughts and emotions. However, care must be taken not to have too many characters telling the story and switching too frequently from one character to another because it will result in losing the emotional intensity of the story and irritating the reader. Just when they’ve got inside one character’s head they’re pulled away to another. And the last thing an author wants is to have his reader abandon his books. I also found that this made the story rather sluggish and I like writing fast-paced novels.

So after experimenting with multiple viewpoints I switched to single person view point, writing a suspense novel from the female point of view but still I wasn't certain I had found my "voice" as they call it in the writing business.

Tide of Death, an Inspector Andy Horton Police Procedural by Pauline RowsonAs I continued I found myself far more attracted to telling the story from the male character's point of view.

When I created the flawed and rugged detective, DI Andy Horton, in the first of the Horton series, Tide of Death, I knew then that I had found my ‘voice’. Everything began to fall into place.

The same applies to my other two crime series: the 1950s set Inspector Ryga mysteries and the Art Marvik mystery thrillers, I tell the story through their eyes.

Many people have asked me why I have chosen to write from the male point of view and the answer is I don’t really know, maybe it’s because I like male heroes. I don't think it matters, it just happens to be my voice! That being said there are, of course, some very strong females in my novels.

With the single point of view the writer doesn't switch to another characters’ thoughts and emotions instead the reader follows the story through the main character’s eyes. This can help the reader to identify far more strongly with that main character.


First person or third person?

There is also the question of whether to write in the first person or the third person? How do you make that decision? Again it can be a matter of trial and error and experimentation.

When I wrote IN COLD DAYLIGHT, a mystery thriller of one man's quest to find the truth behind firefighters deaths from cancer, I originally wrote it in the third person, male point of view. It was only when I had finished the novel that I knew it didn’t feel right. It didn’t have enough tension, so I decided to re-write it switching to first person and it worked much better. I also found the same with another of my mystery thrillers IN FOR THE KILL which is written in the first person, following Alex Albury's journey after being released from prison for a crime he didn't commit and out for revenge.

Thrillers are frequently written in the first person to give them a faster-pace.

Using first person point of view though can have its drawbacks in that everything must be seen through this one character’s eyes, but then what's what I find stimulating and challenging to write and engaging to read.

Finding the right point of view (POV) and a "voice" takes time and practice, however if you enjoy writing then that's not a chore, on the contrary it's always a pleasure to experiment and experiment you must.


Where to buy Pauline Rowson's books


Like on Facebook  Tweet on Twitter  Share on Linkedin  Pin It on Pinterest



POSTED BY: PAULINE ROWSON
MARCH 5TH, 2021 @ 5:49:04 GMT
 
 


Comments

RE: Writing a crime novel - mastering point of view (POV)


Character viewpoint is definitely something I`d like to `play around with` until it clicks. Generally I`m used to reading from third person POV. I have however read a few stories in the first person. As you say though, it can be a very limiting experience and all well and good if you really connect and enjoy following the main character. But one book I read with this POV, was brilliant in terms of historical detail (setting and the like) and the atmosphere the author built was fantastic.

But I realised that I actually didn`t really care for the protagonist all that much (for various reasons). And considering I was stuck with him throughout, it sometimes made for difficult reading.

COMMENT BY ADRIAN MIDDLETON, SEPTEMBER 26TH, 2014 @ 11:38:14 BST

RE: Writing a crime novel - mastering point of view (POV)


Character viewpoint is definitely something I`d like to `play around with` until it clicks. Generally I`m used to reading from third person POV. I have however read a few stories in the first person. As you say though, it can be a very limiting experience and all well and good if you really connect and enjoy following the main character. But one book I read with this POV, was brilliant in terms of historical detail (setting and the like) and the atmosphere the author built was fantastic.

But I realised that I actually didn`t really care for the protagonist all that much (for various reasons). And considering I was stuck with him throughout, it sometimes made for difficult reading.

COMMENT BY ADRIAN MIDDLETON, SEPTEMBER 26TH, 2014 @ 11:47:47 BST
 

Leave Comment

 
 
  V U L P B H
 
 
Location:  Home   »  Blog