Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The View From a Bouncing Ball

Imagine sitting on top of a basketball as it bounces around a court. Up and down, up and down, and boing! A pass across the court to another player. Over the seven-foot-tall player's head and down and flying up toward the rim, hitting the edge, flying backwards to a bunch of hands reaching up and grabbing. Zoom, passed down the court toward the other basket.

This is how I feel reading a multi-POV story. I'm in the middle of The Amber Spyglass, which I am enjoying, but I feel a bit jostled. I don't particularly like popping in and out of Lyra's thoughts in the middle of her dreams, and usually leaving midsentence. (And midthought! I hate that!) I don't like that we drop in to view these characters that we've never even heard of before--we've never even heard of their species before!--and then we're expected to follow along, just as a basketball bounces.

I've been thinking about what bothers me about this and I've come to realize that it's not the bouncing around that bothers me so much in this book. It's not the new (and admittedly interesting) characters. What's bothering me about this book is Lyra. Or lack of Lyra to be precise.

Maybe I just need to keep reading. I did say that I'm only a third of the way through, right? So far there are many people--er, creatures--looking for Lyra, one who's hiding her, and a myriad of folk who want her dead. But Lyra was the focus of the first two stories, and I want more Lyra, darn it! I'm not that interested in the scientist who had appeared in all of two or three chapters in the last book. I like Will, but he doesn't even seem like the same old Will anymore. I want Lyra. I'm tired of bouncing. If I want bounce, I'll watch basketball.

I guess this is the risk you take when you write a series, or take on multiple POVs. (Or is that PsOV?) You risk losing your readers over one character or another. It does give me to think about with one of my works-in-progress. My ghost story does switch back and forth between my ghost and my MC. But I think I can avoid bouncing my readers. A neat but suspenseful little wrap up should do it. Let the time spent with each character be meaningful and move the plot along. And at the very least, I'll leave my readers with complete thoughts before I bounce away.



Katia said...

Hey Patti,

I lo-ove the new look of your website. I also love this latest post on the "bouncing ball" POV. I think our group should see this - I know they'll love it too. You have so much to teach us all.

Patti L Brown said...


I finished The Amber Spyglass a few days ago, and it got better. We still bounced around a lot, but Lyra woke up and became active in the story again. So, at least I took interest in which team was winning.

Glad you like the new website. I added much more to it today (see my blog). I have some links to share with the group, too. I think we should make a point of sharing resources more often, don't you? I'm still learning from all of you as well.

Hope you're churning out some chapters : )