Sunday, October 31, 2010

The voices in my head

It's late. The brain won't let me rest so I've been thinking of different points of views in novels. An unusual topic at 1:00 am but nevertheless, it's keeping me entertained.

What got me thinking deep on this topic is there is a book that's been taking me a while to read and I was trying to figure out why when tonight it hit me. I've been stuck in one spot for a while because the story is now being told from the villain's point of view and I don't like that. In fact a lot more than I'm comfortable with is from the villain and huge chunks at a time. As a reader, I'm wishing the author would find a different way to let us know how the villain is influencing the story. I don't like being in the villain's head. He's one bad dude and causing all kinds of trouble. Late this night I'm wondering why authors do this.

I haven't gotten the Black Dagger Brotherhood bug. I've read a couple of the books but I'm not in a big hurry to read more. But in reading what other readers say about them, one of the big complaints that I see is too much time is spent with the Lessers or whatever they are called - I forget at the moment. I've read where a lot of readers just skip these parts and to me it seems that something is wrong with the picture when readers just skip huge hunks of the story.

In order to have a good story - or any story at all really, we have to have conflict. And a good deal of the time conflict is caused by The Villain whose goal is to destroy in one way or another the happiness of the hero/heroine. So why do we need to read it from his or her head?

Another issue I've seen a lot of readers struggle with is when there are multiple points of view. While this isn't quite as annoying for me, still I prefer only to see the two POV, the heroine and the hero. Many more than that and it can get confusing.


I do like to get the heroes POV along with the heroines. I'm always a little disappointed when the entire story is told from just hers. I like to see what the hero is thinking too.

Has this been a problem for anyone else? Have you got stuck while reading a book because you are in the villains head? Do you get distracted when there are too many points of view? And would you just be happy with the heroines POV or are you like me and want to know what the hero thinks too?


Anonymous said...

The only point of view that I find irritating is first person, primarily because it's so confining, not only to me as a reader but, I would think, to the author as well. Otherwise, I don't mind seeing things from the villain's point of view, even if he's a psychopath. In fact, I often admire--or marvel at--the author's ability to get inside the head of that kind of character. Take, for example, Karen Rose's "I'm Watching You," wherein the villains' (there are several) points of view add a great deal to the story. Sometimes those insights are horrifying, yes, but also enlightening, I think. I marvel at the author's ability because reading what the author writes makes me wonder about why such things could become subjects for the imagination even though I admire that they can thus imagine and in some instances exhibit a kind of sympathy for the character's villainy.

nancy said...

shouldn't this be bunnies in my head?


Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

I'm not a big fan of first person POV. I think the only book I've read in a very long time that was so well executed that it made me forget I don't like first person POV is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

I agree with you about enjoying being in both the hero and heroines heads because I feel I understand the interaction between them more when I know what each is thinking.

As a writer, I don't like giving the villain center stage, although it's sometimes difficult to keep a villain from becoming a cardboard character if you don't try to balance him with some narrative or reflection to explain his behavior.

The villains in my first two novels aren't as fleshed out as they might have been, and in my current WIP I'm taking more time to develop the villain as a more balanced character, and it's working because the effect is to make him more real and frightening.

nath said...

I usually don't care for villains POV and tend to skip over them, even if later it might affect my read, I don't care. Sometimes, when it's short, I don't really mind. But 5 to 6 pages devoted entirely for the villains at a time? Nah.

Multiple POVs, well it depends. I like having the H/H POVs... I don't like having secondary characters, because I think it takes away where the focus should be. Then again, sometimes you need their POVs for the story to make sense.

orannia said...

Great question! I don't care about the villian's POV if they are a cookie cutter villian. I feel the lessers are like that - EVIL. The villian is always far more interesting when there is method to the madness...or he (or she I guess) demonstrates shades of grey.

I'm not a fan of first person, but last year I picked up a number of books, written in the first person, with FOUR POVs. Yes, FOUR! And they worked, one author more than the other, because they were character driven. They were all fantasy. One author (Sarah Monette) I went all fangirl over *grin*

Kwana said...

Great post as a writer I enjoyed your opinion. I love 1st person as well as 3rd. For me it's how well the POV is executed.