Writing with Style

“This story has so many characters, all well-rounded but overwhelming at first.”

The above paraphrased line is taken from a book review of both “A Song of Ice and Fire” series and my own science fiction debut Apex Five. While these reviews were written by different readers, the reference to multiple points of view (POV)s speaks to a certain style of writing. Indeed, a solid multi-POV can also suit the screen, as seen with the popular TV series, “Sense 8”, featuring no fewer than eight main characters.

Personally, although I have written several short pieces from the perspective of only one character, I find that when writing books, I struggle with sticking to one person’s viewpoint. Particularly when exploring the characters’ arcs in the plot of “Apex Five”, a story set on an unrecognizable future Earth with five nations in conflict, remaining stuck in one or even two characters’ heads the entire time seems not only limited, but strikingly biased. For instance, imagine a story about WWII, in which we only get to see the perspective of a German soldier or a book that confines us to the experiences of a couple Allied characters. In brief, while avoiding changing POV within one scene (head-hopping) remains crucial, the third person limited style can actually make for a more holistic, versatile reader experience. After all, why not show your reader the multiple facets of your created people and their world?

That said, as a writer, you must know your target readership. For example, while marketing “Apex Five”, I vacillated between Genetic Engineering and Post-Apocalyptic subgenres of Science Fiction before finally discovering that Amazon includes a Colonization option and settling on this as the best descriptor. Overall, the underlying theme experienced by your characters should prioritize the subgenre you choose. Know to whom you are promoting your story, and the readers will follow. To narrow down your reading audience, consider two or three books that showcase similar themes to yours. As we all draw inspiration from established fiction, you know your work best. So, when choosing a POV style, ask this: What works best for telling your story? Is it 1) First person, in which the reader experiences the story as a single character 2) Third person limited, allowing the reader to live the story’s events through the eyes of one character at a time per scene, or 3) Third person omniscient, providing the opportunity to passively read about characters’ journeys, as in a folktale?

Now, I want to hear from you! What’s your writing style? Do you prefer first person, third person limited, omniscient or something entirely else?

3 thoughts on “Writing with Style

  1. I’m all over the place. My first fantasy was from 1 POV (a teen boy, told in 1st person). Second fantasy book from 2 POVs (an ancient dragon and a female mage). Third Fantasy, in progress, from 4 POVs (the same 2 as the previous, plus that of a demon-dragon and a cruel human general). And another book in progress, a space opera sci fi, is from 1 POV (a smuggler / space jockey).


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