I had a question about POVs. For your newest book you switched back and forth between Hugh and Elara, but you have general only stuck with one point of view for the Kate Daniels, Innkeeper and Hidden Legacy books/series. I was wondering the reasoning behind your choices to either switch between POVs or stay with a single POV for a novel/series. Also in regards to the Curran POVs you have posted on this blog in the past, where those written after their corresponding books were written (as awesome gems for us readers to enjoy), or did you write them as you were writing the rest the book as a writing exercise or to flush out the scene(s) in your head?
Warning: don’t take any of this as writing gospel.
Single or multiple POV.
In general, when the narrative is in first person, “I said, I did, I chopped his head off” etc, we stick to a single point of view. There are two reasons for this. One, there is very little distance between the reader and the character in first person POV. You are right there, in the character’s head, you see through their eyes, hear through their ears, etc. You can do this in a tight third person as well, but there is usually more distance.
A pit had opened in my stomach. I tasted acid on my tongue and swallowed it back down. Hot tears wet my cheeks, burning the skin. It was as if I had been poisoned and my body was desperately trying to expel it.
A pit had opened in her stomach. She tasted acid on her tongue and swallowed it back down. Hot tears wet her cheeks, burning the skin. It was as if she had been poisoned and her body was desperately trying to expel it.
When you drop the reader that deep into someone’s head, they are reluctant to jump into another character. It’s jarring. The more distance is between the reader and the character, the easier it is to head-hop. Omniscient is the easiest for the multiple POV’s which is why it’s frequently used for epic fantasy.
Two, when we write in first person, the character is typically solving a mystery. If we were to drop into bad guy’s POV, for example, it would no longer be a whodunit, but a police procedural. In a whodunit, we don’t know the identity of the perpetrator, and the story is driven forward in part by that mystery. In a police procedural, we know who had done the deed, and the story is driven by the chase and the struggle as the investigators get closer and closer while antagonist is actively trying to elude them.
We don’t do writing exercises.
Either we sit down and write a story, or we don’t. Sometimes the stories go nowhere and have to be abandoned, but when we are working on something, it’s always to achieve a narrative arc. We never sit down with the idea of working on something we don’t intend to reach an audience. Writing exercises, character background files, and elaborate outlines are not the copy. Only copy is copy. Most of the times these things are used to postpone the actual writing. To quote Yoda: do or do not.
That said, to each their own. If you want to do writing exercises, do them. There is only one rule in writing: do whatever works to get to the end.
As to Curran POVs, they were mostly written because the readers bugged Gordon. There is really no rhyme or reason to them. 🙂
Tiffany Crystal says
So I’m NOT the only one who thinks writing practices are dumb! Thank you! (That being said, however, they CAN be fun.)
Pat Sciarini says
Thank you! Always interested to see how you work as a team.
Tasha A. says
This was interesting thanks!
Other thing i learned… bugging Gordan for Curran POVs works! The BDH will keep that in mind.
Kelly B L says
Lol….. I was thinking the same thing…
How do we bug Gordon enough we get more Curran POVs without alienating him?
I could easily go for the KD world, all ten books, written. From Curran’s perspective. Lol…..there is never enough Curran!!!!!
Agree – the Curran POV collection was the icing on the (delicious) Kate cake !!!
More would be appreciated (and loved) !!
I’m all up for the bugging. Does that count as a writing exercise?
“There is really no rhyme or reason to them.” Are you referring to the POVs, or are you referring to the Horde? Because that does apply to the Horde.
Of course there is a rhyme and reason to the Horde! Like any other horde in history of mankind we want MORE! MORE! MORE! More Kate! More Curran! More Nevada! More grocery lists!!!
Patricia Schlorke says
All I’m going to say to this is: 😀
Roxanne Wynne Davenport says
We are the Book DEVOURING Horde, after all. Heh.
Exactly my thoughts. I want to imagine Curran’s POV of the wedding. 🙂
Kris Blankenship says
Officially, this is a bugging Gordon reply!! Also officially: you guys are amazing and I love every thing you write. Thank you so much for sharing your gifts with us. ?
I love the Curran POVs. Kinda sad there aren’t more! LOL.
Why bug you? What you are doing works. It satisfies the great majority of your fans. The BDH bitches and moans. But, all that means is, give us more of what you are doing. Thank you.
I’ve never had trouble switching points of view, as long as there’s a break or some other method of indicating the change-over. In some complicated books, the author will sometimes put in the narrator’s name as his/her turn starts. (Breaks in text don’t always make the transition to ebook well, alas.)
I still become immersed in the story, I just know more than one person is telling it to me.
A lot of people are really passionate about which POVs they like reading, a which they do not. I don’t get it, though I suppose I’m never quite sure if that makes me less judgemental, or sort of tone deaf. I mean, if i’m writing, I’ll agonize over it (someday I’ll be able to write a good tight third like a grown up…!) but reading? Let me into the story, and I’ll take it as it’s told! …and I’ve never noticed a real preference.
(Of course everything right now is writing for scientific publication, which involves special uses of “we” and leans heavily on the good ole A B Cs…)
If it’s a good story it doesn’t matter what point of view it is.
KC Hulsman says
For me some writers just cant get me to believe their first person POV, it jars the entire time.
Yes, agree, but the problem is not the POV……..
I just finished my first read through of a book with multiple first person POVs. It does require a little more work from the reader, but within a couple of sentences you know which character is talking even though they are not labeled. Of course it helps that the author is Naomi Novik, who had plenty of practice before starting this book. I would not try it at home.
I’ve had instances of books with multiple pov where I tend to follow “my” character (I also speed read) and gloss over the others. However I reread a LOT so sooner or later I generally flesh out the other characters which sometimes makes for a whole new reading experience.
I’ve certainly had the same experience, but I don’t generally have a problem with first person?
Of course, when I have time to give something my whole attention, I’ve been known to enjoy non-linear storylines with multiple narrators where the identity of the narrator isn’t always clear. (Not, of course, all instances of the same. Like everything else, it’s far easier to do badly than to do well…) But I’m also the kind of deviant who is likely to sneak Ashes of Time (東邪西毒) in when we’re having a WuXia marathon – partly because I love the movie, but partly also because I enjoy watching the bewildered horror on my friends’ faces as they say “What… what did I just see?” (And I’ve read a fair bit of Jin Yong and Ashes of Time is just the thing to wash that out of your mouth…)
Did I just read ‘wuxia’? (;
Why, yes! (I knew there had to be some serious overlap in this community.)
I’m fine reading either first or third, but it needs to stick that way for the entire book. I hate books that mix first and third and also hate books that have multiple viewpoint characters done in first person. First person is too intimate to allow switching perspectives.
For me, first person can only have one real main character. The Kate Daniels story is about Kate. Curran and Julie and the others are there, hanging around and whatnot, but the stories not about them. Just Kate. And so, the point of view must always be from Kate.
Third person allows multiple main characters. Iron and magic, the story isn’t just about one of them. It’s about Hugh, and it’s ALSO about Elara. It needs them both to have perspective, so it must be in third person.
I think it’s partially a matter of technique. This feels to me like the right way for a story to be written, and that messing it up can ruin even an otherwise good story. Kind a like an action scene in a movie. No matter how good the fighting/choreography/explosions are, lens-flare and shaky-cam can ruin the experience.
Funny the timing of this discussion. After reading the thread earlier today, I just read a novella by Chloe Neill set in her Cadogan House universe. She did first person for the main character but switched to third person when dealing with some side characters. Didn’t bother me too much since it was novella length, but I’m not sure I would have liked it for a full book. Probably would have depended on when and how many times the POV switched. Like in the middle of an action or high drama scene.
Thank you for sharing your writing experience. It is fun to see a bit behind the curtain.
I really like seeing things from Hugh’s point of view. He see’s things completely different than what I thought from Kate’s books. I thought he seen all of his people as disposable employees, now I see he have some feelings towards some of them. He knows everyone’s name and their strengths. He is actually better than most managers.
Ahhh… it does put Hugh in much better light doesn’t it? I can’t help myself, I just really love hating Hugh…
Courtney Mincy says
You also have to wonder how much of Hugh’s previous behavior was influenced by Roland’s magic. He had trouble remembering why the Iron Dogs were not trusted as “good allies” but the more he thought the clearer it became. He remembered wanting to stay allies but Roland said no and Hugh moved on, with little concern. It was only after Roland cut him loose that it began to bother him.
I would say a lot of Hugh’s behavior was influenced by Roland’s magic. Roland even admits it in Iron and Magic when he stated that parents have to “suppress” aspects of their children’s personalities, and Landon Nez alluded to that when he stated that Roland basically “fried” Hugh’s mind to keep him in line. Also, throughout the book, Hugh always expected to feel pain whenever he even thought of something that was disrespectful to Roland or that was against Roland’s orders or views (and Hugh was surprised when he later stopped feeling this pain).
I say Hugh’s behavior was guided by the author’s needs in the story arc. It was never important to know why Hugh was so Hughish, he just was. Now that he has his own story the writers imperatives have changed and we see more of the influences in Hugh’s life.
And I must say I’m still suspicious of this new High, time will tell!
I read into that that Roland was almost riding Hugh like a mini-vampire. Not all the time, but he did mind-wipes and overwrites to Hugh, so that Hugh’s personality was really pushed down. Roland made Hugh value what Roland valued (i.e. sociopathic narcissistic wizard wants his stuff) and Hugh’s other inclinations (keeping promises, not throwing his almost-sister into an oubliette and starving her) were repressed.
The author lords are doing a good job of showing how Hugh is emerging into a full personality from a half one, kind of like a teenager discovering who s/he is after an overwhelming peer group deciding everything. Also, the whole addiction/depression related to Roland is interesting.
Margaret R says
Your example really points out how the different POV’s do create an emotional response in the writer. I also just wanted to mention that I’m starting to dream about Technomancer……..just a hint….hint….nag….hint……in case you wanted to do a writing exercise……just sayin’.
I am dreaming about all of them!
Thank you for another insight into your process. I salute you, and enjoy it all!
Firstly, thank you! It’s always interesting to learn more about the writing process.
Secondly, what’s this bugging you speak of? How is it achieved? Not that I’m planning or anything, I’m just a curious person… ????????????
Marcia Glenn says
Can I bug Gordon (or you) for a Twitter of the Month post? Funniest things I have ever read.
Hey, Gordon! How about a new POV? Preference would be Rogan, but I’m not picky.
Z’s Wife says
Yes. Ilona clearly states that bugging Gordon is a GREAT PLAN that gets results. (I’m sure I read that correctly….) Please, Gordon, we need another Rohan POV.
I’ll say it for you. Stupid autocorrect. I think she meant Rogan. (It thought Rohan was the correct substitute?)
If you’re taking requests, I’d like to see what Rogan was thinking when Arabella dropped from the helicopter.
Tink, yes! I always try to imagine the conversation in the helicopter! Did she tell him in the helicopter what she was, and he let her out after she finally convinced him? Or did she just jump out on her own somehow because he didn’t believe her or wasn’t listening?
Lynn T. says
Oh, yeah. Me too. Although I did find the third rogan POV educational. I too wondered if she just opened helicopter door and jumped. Maybe Gordon will indulge us one of these days.
Natasha Johnson says
+1 I have always wondered what he thought hen she jumped out
Patricia Schlorke says
Probably: “What the (put your own swear word here)!” Or “Nevada will kill me if something happens to her.”
Amy Ann says
Yes, yes, yes! This would be so much fun. Also–not a Rogan POV–but what was Arabella’s visit with Rogan’s mother like?
That and this too for additional POV +10000
How did Arabella describe Nevada to Rogan’s mother? (Not to mention, the whole Nevada thing.)
Love this. Thank you!
Thanks for the explanation.
So, can we get more Curran POVs?? *hint-hint*
Chantay M James says
Thanks for this. Besides you guys, one of my favorite authors is Kristen Ashley. Her breaking many POV standards is what I loved most. Some saw her methods as unprofessional, lazy etc; however they were excellent in moving her story along, keeping me (the reader) engaged and giving me clarity on how the characters I was vested in really felt, not probably felt. It’s her influences along with yours and Gordon’s and James Scott Bell that helped me finish several books; as you say the only thing that matters is the copy. And I agree – most writing exercises are stupid, at least for me, and I’m glad someone else finally said it!
Great question and great answer! I’ve wondered about the POVs as well (and not just with you).
Hey Gordon! Any chance of a Hugh POV from Magic Strikes? Would love to know what went through his head when Kate broke Scarlet Star. 🙂
I TOTALLY SECOND THAT!
One about their fight on the Castle would be awesome to read too.
Please, Gordon? 🙂
Really anything you care to write. I would love to read any (or all!) of the scenarios mentioned above – if and when Gordon felt like looking at the action through a different pair of eyes and telling us about it.
Thanks for letting us blather on and please don’t feel as if we *expect* any more than the ridiculously generous things you already produce.
You two rock. Thank you for doing it.
Natasha Johnson says
I love reading these inside-the-writer’s-head posts.
Me too! It’s like seeing a gourmet meal prepared and then getting to enjoy the feast.
Oh lordy, now queue a million emails bugging Gordon for POVs.
Or lots of requests here. After all, Ilona said that bugging Gordon was the way to get new POVs.
I am totally up with bugged Gordon for more POV goodness. I don’t really care which one he chooses to do… I’m highly entertained by what goes on in the male characters heads.
Interesting prospective on writing personal viewpoint.
I recently read a story that head hopped between four characters, three from third person and main character was first person.
It didn’t stop me from reading the book, but it was jarring.
Tina in NJ says
The POV I want is Arland’s Adventures in Babysitting Helen. I’m dying to know what those two were up to while Maud was on the Lantern Vigil!
+ about a million!
Natasha Johnson says
I love that we have to bug Gordon for Curran POV’s… So here’s to bugging Gordon to finish the last POV he started as bribery on a book contest a couple years ago.. He wrote the first part, about growing up as a story told to Julie.. but it never got finished, as far as I know.
I would like to politely request a Curran POV of the council meeting before Kate’s rescue. Pretty please?
Lori Wilhite says
Thanks for your generosity in giving us your time, free stories, Twitter, texts, and POVs. Count me as one more who wants to bug Gordon for more from Curran (I would love to know what was running through his head while Kate was pregnant)!
Lynn T. says
Thank you, Ilona Andrews.
Personally I think first or third person depends on the author’s handling of story. When I first read Emma L. Adams in Magic and Mayhem anthology (Adamant, The Alliance Series: Book 1) having first person POV for 2 main characters was confusing. But once i realized how she was switching between Ada and Kay… no problem….even if HEA still MI A at end of book 6.
I have enjoyed Curran and Rogan POVs. They have fleshed out both characters in ways that would not have been believable in original story POV. So, thanks to Gordon for the indulgence.
I know it’s related to the post, but would stretching or maybe icing your hands help? Sounds like they really hurt and are a giant inconvenience right now.
Thank you for the answers!
I just looove Curran’s and Rogan’s POVs, but now I feel a bit sorry for Gordon!
I just love everything you both write I’m very grateful for all of it paid for or free I just love it all ????
Good to know. ” Bug Gordon when we need a Curran POV”
Hey Gordon any chance we can get another POV short for Curran.
Thank you both of you rock
Peace and light k
Hmm mm, so Ilona what kind of pie works best? Does he like a chocolate chess pie?
E. Smith says
Thank you, Gordon for the Curran POV’s. I really enjoy reading them.
Partially quoting my most hated line in fiction… I am afraid I can’t be your fan anymore 😉
I now have to find a way to calm myself down again. That bloody line sets me off every time.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
Nwûl tash… Zhelosa, xaari iv saarai. Buti liamin, nuo tu zinot lieti zhol.
So tempted to issue a standing bet to the first person who can sneak this in amongst the chants at a Buddhist retreat… it might even outshine the great twinkie incident.
Alexisa N says
I LOVE the Curran POV extras. And since you said bugging you and Gordon works for getting it written, I officially request that you two expand on it (as your time permits of course). I volunteer to do the copy editing.
Please with a real whipped cream and a strawberry on top!
So….I interpreted that as a green light to bug Gordon more! 🙂 I really really love all of the Curran POVs. The alley first meeting scene from his perspective was hysterical! Is there a way to politely, respectfully, with humility and gratitude bug one half of your favorite writers? Hmmm….
Can someone tell what BDH means? I keep seeing it in the comments. Many thanks.
Book Devouring Horde
I understand the BDH need of more Curran, more Rogan, more Arland
When asking for more writing I think everyone should remember the condition of your hands. The possibility that writing has been reduced by half (if I ‘m not mistaken), your dictating, then Gordon’s typing. Where as before you both could type independently.
Plus, you both were ‘fried’ after Diamond Fire.
As much as I like MORE….
Less stress, more fun, slower pace.
Enjoy yourselves as you create your stories.
P.S. Life is to short…..
Katrina R says
The way I figure it, if Gordon is busy writing one of the POV shorts, that should be an enforced vacation for Ilona, right? Seems like perfect timing to me… ;o)
+1. You are incredibly generous with freebies as it is.
I must parrot some of the other comments. I love everything you guys put out, whether it be books, novellas, free stories, POVs, whatever! You are incredibly talented and use such an economy of words to describe the action, thoughts, and environment. I love that. I have read too many books with wrong spelling, word use, bad grammar, bad spelling, too many words, bad spelling…..I guess what I am saying is I hate bad spelling. But I know when I get an Ilona Andrews story, it will be excellent! I am taking a whole vacation day when Kate 10 comes out. SO Excited!
First of all , it’s over 100 degrees in Texas right now, so let’s have Ilona and Gordon work on staying cool. And Gordon
has been doing double duty since Ilona’s hands are overworked. So give the guy a break.
I love his POV ‘s just love the snippet about Conlan’s birthday and the fire truck, and RidingGrendel in only a cowboy hat .
Let Ilona and Gordon have some breathing space and do some fun things for themselves.
Thank you for all the things you have written.
I just re-read Magic burns and it still is fabulous. And you were just starting out.
Enjoy your weekend .
The BDH has lots to read .
Patricia Schlorke says
I second the staying cool. DFW broke a 95 year record today. We hit 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.222 Celsius) at DFW airport. Tomorrow will be 109 degrees (some places could be above 110 degrees).
Stay safe in the heat Ilona, Gordon, and members of the BDH in North Texas (and all across Texas).. ? ⛱ ?
Amy Ann says
Yikes! Take care of yourselves in the heat.
Fan in California says
Regarding Curran’s POVs: Love them. Thanks for writing them, Gordon — for whatever reason!!!
So what I think I know is Kate is done, Nevada’s wedding is written (edits to come) and Maud progresses. After the frantic first 6 months of the year, do you have a breathing spell? There may be more pots boiling, but do you have time to relax and let your hands heal?
Also, I love Gordon’s POVs.
I personally love a dual POV… with the right story, I’ll even appreciate three or four POVs. But personally, it doesn’t matter how close the POV is (first, close third, omniscient), more than 4 POVs stress me out. I know they’re fictional but it’s like trying to have an intimate conversation with 5 people at once. Parts of the Edge series got to be a little much for me.
Will read whatever you write, though, because the stories are good and I like the characters.
Thanks for that great perspective on writing style. I’m not a fan of writing exercises, but I have started writing out character back stories to help make my characters more real. Most of what I write is bordering on monotonous crap, but one day it’ll be a good story! And, hey Gordon, I’d LOVE some more Curran POV…just sayin’!
Your post made my day! That is the second time I’ve read that Yoda quote today…the first in a potty training book! I’m sure you can imagine, slightly different context.
Thank you! I’d rather not switch POV in the same book in first person too because as you mentioned, when you’re too deep inside a character’s head, you see and think like her/him and I’m comfortable enough in that position. Changing POV is like going from a comfortable fluffy cloud to another ahah.
(However, since you also mentioned bugging Gordon …. I’m looking forward to the next Rogan’s POV MOUAHAHAH ;p)
Two writers = one seamless narration.
A lot of the comments analyse your writing, I just enjoy it. But I have always wondered how your writing together works. Gordon “appears” with the POVs, you mention him sometimes in the blog and very seldom he writes a blog, but that can’t be all.
I’m sure you already answered this question and I just can’t find it. Help, please.
But however you do it, you do it great and I look forward to anything you put out, what ever format you choose. No bugging, because you already produce more than we realistically can expect. Thanks for that.
Danielle Ward says
Thank you for your explanation of your approach to POV. I enjoyed your reasoning.
Katie B says
Thank you for everything you both do. I hope Ilona’s hands continue to heal, however frustratingly slowly. I enjoy everything you write and appreciate the effort that goes into this blog.
I love all the POV’s as does my husband. Although I would love to bug Gordon for more more more! I feel that would be wrong as you both must be under a lot of strain.
Take care in your current heat wave
Andrea D. says
Before I read any of your books I was more for a third person story. So I needed some time to get used to a first person point of view. And sometimes still do. Nevertheless I can´t wait to read the Innkeeper and I think I will reread Hidden Legacy.
Mehjabin Haque says
Curran’s pov are gold 🙂
Love all the “extras” we get as readers. I’ve never felt this level of involvement with other authors or series. I love it.
> As to Curran POVs, they were mostly written because the readers bugged Gordon.
Translation: Gordon did something to annoy me and my petty revenge is to sic famdom on him.
Hahaha! I was thinking something similar, imagining Gordon grumbling to Ilona about that line…
Uhmmm…. Gordon……here’s a new “bugging”. ?
(I think the Curran POVs are so special. Kinda like a little piece of Godiva chocolate.).
THANKS to you and Ilona for all the beautiful stories. You guys are THE BEST!
Jim Huffman says
well, the Curran POVs were awesome, let’s bug him some more! 🙂