Watson likely stories

I have no joke here; I just wanted to call Henry James "overheated".

There are days when I think that Henry James's obsession with point of view, and various wild and overheated claims that it's the most important decision a writer makes, might not be so wild after all. Two entirely different stories lurk here in this premise (yes, nutterbudgie, your story), one in Giles's point of view and one in Buffy's.

Which to choose?

I'm afraid I've already decided and begun writing prose instead of outline, but I'm just mourning the other story. I suppose this is what remixes are for.
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I actually agree with James completely. POV is the most crucial decision in the writing process. You can't go anywhere without it and with the wrong choice, the story is dead in the water.
Ooh ooh ooh someone mentioned POV choices! This is an aspect of writing that fascinates and thrills me.

I've no idea what James says on the subject, beyond what you say in your post, but I'd have to kind of agree that it is at least one of the most important decisions a writer makes about their story.

In writing terms I'm pretty much self-taught. (My background is engineering.) It took me several years, as I tried to develop the skills that would turn me into a storyteller, to realise the significance of this aspect to technique. Once I realised that sticking with one perspective improved flow and offered much more in the way of dramatic tension, my own ability came on in leaps and bounds.

To the point where, if I begin to read a fanfic these days that has head-jumps -- sometimes in the middle of paragraphs, or even sentences -- I can't finish it. I've spent so much time thinking about POV character choices, and analysing how they work in my favourite stories, that head-jumps have become quite painful to process.

I'd also say that the occasions where I've seen genuine omnipotent POV done well could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. There is a huge, whacking, Grand Canyon-sized chasm of difference between 'I'm writing omnipotent' and 'I can't be bothered sticking to one character's perspective'. Writers who can actually write omnipotent (without the flow-stutters that usually come from shifts in POV character) impress the bejesus out of me.

I've played around with quite a lot of POV stuff. I would say, for example, that when the story is largely about the relationship between two characters then I try to limit my POV choice(s) to include just one of those characters, in order to maintain some tension. But I've broken that rule a few times; in the pursuit of humour, for instance, when the premise of the story is how two people can interpret the same events very differently.

The most recent Buffy fic I posted was an interesting POV excercise for me, in that I wanted to write a story that was primarily about Buffy the character, but I wanted to tell that story using POVs from everyone-but. Thus the story becomes not only 'what's going on with Buffy?' but also 'how does Buffy's mood directly affect the people around her?'

If I don't stop now I'm going to end up running out of text space. So I stop. And I thank you for mentioning one of my very favourite subjects.
Yes yes yes, a hundred times yes!

Omnipotent POV is fucking HARD. It is the hardest POV out there (excepting maybe 2nd person, but I think 2P is basicaly a one-trick pony and unless you're Carlos Fuentes, it's really hard to make it work in a way that doesn't sound like "Choose Your Own Adventure"). But so many people think it just means doing whatever POV you want, whenever you want it. And that's just being sloppy, not to mention lazy.

Stories are so much more interesting when the POV is solid. Midparagraph switches? UGH. No, thank you. But multiple POV's can be interesting, because it lets you play around with dramatic irony. For instance, the Who story I've got cooking right now revolves around a big misunderstanding. The reader knows what each person is thinking, but they don't know what each other person is thinking. But leaving the reader guessing about a character's motives and intentions can also be extremely powerful.

In short: POV is like duct tape. There's so many things to do with it beyond the obvious!
But leaving the reader guessing about a character's motives and intentions can also be extremely powerful.

Absolutely. It's funny you mention Doctor Who, as that particular fandom brings up another interesting POV issue for me.

There are characters whose POV I'm just not very comfortable writing. Those characters are so different, alien, powerful, other that - it seems to me - their POV shouldn't really be all that accessible.

The Doctor is one of them. For me. I mean, I've written my beloved Seven's POV, just to see if I could, but I've never been satisfied with the result. So when I write Who!fic, I tend to always go with other character POVs. (Which tends to mean either Ace, or an OC.)

This doesn't only apply to the science fiction/fantasy world of writing and yer actual, literal aliens. There are characters I feel the same way about which are completely terrestrial. Hannibal Lecter springs to mind. Again, I've written his POV and I've had very positive feedback for it, but I've never been overly happy with my own work. There's something about such a character that really should remain inaccessible, and offering their POV in prose defeats that. It makes them more understandable, more reader-friendly, so to speak.

In fact, Thomas Harris (the author of the Lecter novels) doesn't use Lecter as a POV character until quite late in the third novel "Hannibal". Prior to that, whenever the scene involved Lecter on his own and therefore lacked another handy POV to use, Harris used the 'invisible guide' mechanism to describe the scene. It worked brilliantly. Sort of -- 'come closer, reader - careful! Not too close! - and we'll observe what this man is doing.' I'm exaggerating there, but the approach was so successful for me because it bypassed the need for Lecter!POV while also serving as a reminder that we were reading about a dangerous and enigmatic character.

So yeah. The POVs you choose not to include can be as defining to the story as those you do.

I love talking about this stuff. :)