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

Getting the right point of view (POV) in a novel is one of the hardest thing for a writer to grasp. You need to ask yourself whose story is it? You might think it fairly obvious that it is the protagonist’s story but is it his (or hers) alone? Or do you need to switch to telling the story from another character’s point of view i.e. is it single point of view or multiple point of view? Is it male or female, or a mixture of both? Beware the latter though and having too many points of view because that will not only muddle the story and slow it down but it will also confuse you, and more importantly the reader.

 

The purpose of the crime or thriller novel is to excite and intrigue, sometimes also to scare, therefore having too many points of view, i.e. switching to different characters every so many pages or chapters can bog it down.

 

First person or third person?

Then there is the question of whether it will be written in the first person or the third person? How do you make that decision?

Sometimes it is a matter of trial and error or rather experimentation. When I wrote IN COLD DAYLIGHT, a crime thriller, I originally wrote it in the third person. 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 thriller that of IN FOR THE KILL.

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

Using first person point of view (POV) though does have its drawbacks in that everything must be seen through this one character’s eyes.


Singular third person point of view


The same applies if you choose to write the novel, or short story, from the singular third person point of view, as I have chosen to do in the Inspector Andy Horton novels, the 1950s set Inspector Ryga novels and the Art Marvik mystery thrillers. Here you cannot switch to another characters’ thoughts and emotions instead you follow the story through the main character’s eyes. On the plus side though this can help the reader to identify far more strongly with that main character.

Third person multiple point of view

Writing from third person multiple point of view opens up more possibilities. You can 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 this 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.

If you decide to have more than one point of view it is best to switch character viewpoint at the beginning of a new chapter or passage, and every few pages, not on the same page and not too frequently.

Are you writing from the male or female point of view?


Tide of Death, an Inspector Andy Horton Police Procedural by Pauline RowsonWhen I first started writing I wrote from the female character's point of view but as 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 series: the 1950s set Inspetcor Ryga mysteries and the Art Marvik mystery thrillers. 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.

Finding the right point of view (POV) and your 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


Available from all good booksellers in paperback, ebooks, Kindle and audio books.


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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
 

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