Archive for the ‘Technique’ Category

Suspense and POV

September 19, 2007

Last week there was a minor kerfluffle where someone got rejected from a publisher and part of the reason was because she used  the villian’s POV.  To this author, it seemed right, correct, and I think she’ll defend this perspective forever.  But…

To me, adding the villian’s POV is the easy way out, the lazy way of getting the “why” out there.  This is a situation/technique that can easily be avoided by utilizing proper writing technique and story structure.

I must admit that when reading, I get extremely annoyed when the villian’s POV is in a story. We don’t need to know his motivations until the end of the story… UNLESS it’s just his thoughts of the person he’s stalking at that moment and nothing to do with they “why” of it all.  It’s the “why” of it all that keeps the suspense going strong!  And if you’re writing a romantic suspense or just a straight suspense, this is going to kill your whodoneit and ultimately your story.

The villian’s  POV could be avoided by simply adding one or two sentences here and there as the victim(s)/target(s) begin to discover the motives of their victimizer.  You don’t want to give too much away too soon.  PACE YOURSELF.  Revealing too much too soon is what I’ve come to know as “purging” and “purging” is very, very bad.  Give away too much too soon and the reader will quickly figure out the whodoneit and the story will ultimately be over for them. To me, if I can figure out the whodoneit early on, the story loses it’s appeal.  One exception is Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts… but La Nora is the queen and she could make a grocery receipt look interesting.  But in reality, there is only one Nora.  And honestly, what is the point in reading on if you already know all the dynamics of the suspense? There is none.

The book that landed me my agent, the lovely Laura Bradford, is a contemporary romantic suspense.  I learned that when writing suspense, pacing is critical.  My suspense started out subtle, almost as if it were just a coincidence that something happened, then built from there, gradually getting more intense and obvious that there was a whodoneit.

A writer needs to build the suspense gradually before getting to the climactic point and revealing all at the very end of the story.  If you don’t follow this technique, in most cases the story will fall flat, leaving your readers disappointed and sometimes very pissed off.

I am by no means an expert, but this is what I’ve come to learn from reading and then by writing.  You do not need the villian’s POV.  In my opinion, if you feel you have to have it in there, the only acceptable way to do it is to be vague about it.  Maybe have the villian watching the victim.  He can have thoughts of him/her but never, ever reveal the motivations until the climactic end.

Agree?  Disagree?  Thoughts?