Friday, June 27, 2008

Subplots and multiple POV’s.

Almost done the new JR Ward book. I’m not going to discuss it in length, as I think Molly probably wants to. And given that as usual, the latest JR Ward book blew both our little minds, it’s going to come up a lot on this blog for a little while.

I’ve learned a lot from this series. And what I’m trying to apply to my own writing is the magic of subplots and multiple POV’s.

In my current WIP I’ve counted at least seven. They all overlap, but I know I have five different protagonists, in these seven subplots. All these subplots relate directly back to the main plot, and all influence it. And because I have five different protagonists, I know I need at least that many POV”s and to be honest, I threw in one non-protagonist POV, but I think the POV is strong enough to warrant it.

I go back three years and I was using at most three POV”s, the hero, heroine and villain. Because I think I read a rule about keeping POV’s to a minimum and stupidly followed it.

The magic with subplots is all in the pacing. There’s a lot going on in the book and I’ve got a lot to pack into every scene, so every word counts. Plus, I end on a cliffhanger, I can keep the reader waiting for three scenes to resolve that cliffhanger.

It wasn’t until I read that first JR Ward book that I really felt as romance writers we could so this and still sell as a romance. And truthfully, her books are becoming less and less romance novels and more just amazing books. Not to give any spoilers away, but with this last book, the romance is probably the least prominent, but it doesn’t stop the book from being really, really compelling to read.

Seriously, this series is mind blowing.

15 comments:

Maureen McGowan said...

Need to read the new JR Ward. Just started.

I think you're right that she's proven you can do way more in the romance genre than people thought before. I wonder if the limiting POV "rules" came because so many beginners just start rambling away and giving everyone but the kitchen sink a POV so they get the advice "keep the POV's to a minimum" and that becomes a rule.

Now, for some books limiting the POV's makes sense... and I do think you can still have subplots with even only one POV in a book. I spent a lot of time thinking about that reading Emily Giffen's books.. and Eileen Rendahl's. But you're limited in those cases to having the sub plots be "told" by the secondary characters to the main characters... so the writing has to be stellar to hold the reader's attention. But it can really work. For some kinds of books. Not for suspense.

Okay, really rambling now... But I was listening to a SEP talk from a few years ago and she was saying she NEVER ends her main plot on a cliffhanger before switching to a subplot because she thinks the reader will just skip over the subplot to get back to the main plot. And I can see her point. I mean, we've all skipped lesser scenes in JR Ward's books, right? (Lesser having a double meaning in this case. ;-)

But I think what's key is ensuring your sub plots are also compelling... So no one wants to skip those scenes to find out what happened in the main plot.

Sinead M said...

Yeah, totally agree. The subplots have to be as compelling as the main plot and what's funny, in the new JR Ward they absolutely are.
and you're right, one POV can be as compelling, if the story works.
It all comes down to what works for the story, and I'm not sure anything else matters.

Kristin said...

Lord, and I had an editor tell me once that they were 'confused' who the main character was, because after SIXTY pages I threw in another POV. I mean, COME ON!? Really?

I just always go with what is right for the plot. If a certain element must be shown to move the story forward, create tension, or something important, a POV switch should be okay.

The current WIP I'm working on has two POVs, the hero and the heroine. At first, it was told ONLY from the hero's POV because there was a mystery element I wanted to keep from the reader and the hero. But then I realized it would make the book ten times stronger if I supplemented with the heroine's POV to let you see what's going on when the hero's not around. It really worked to create a bunch more drama and tension!

Wylie Kinson said...

Howdy drunk writers...

I'm at a sticky point in my current wip... been staring at the same page for 2 days, unsure what direction to take... so I decided to prcrasinate *ahem* and check out a few blogs.
I think it was divine intervention because this POV topic just totally sparked the inspiration flame.
THANKS!!

Sinead M said...

I think a lot of what you get told, has to be taken with a serious grain of salt.

POV's work if they have a reason for being in the book and if the scene is compelling. End of story.

Kristin, going for what is right for the plot is always the right choice. No question, in my mind at least.

Wylie, glad we could help. These books are helping me figure out what works for me, so geat we can pass that along.

Ultimately I believe what we drunk writers have figured out, is as long as the scene is compelling, it belongs. Regardles of POV..

Amy Ruttan said...

OH I know. THe romance wasn't prominent, which was disappointing at first, but OMG I loved the subplots going on.

I loved the Qhuinn and Blay, John and you know what, I'm really digging Rhevenge. And I would really elaborate why, but I don't want to put a spoiler in.

I got my copy three days before it hit the shelves. Preordering from Chapters ROCKS. Anyways, I had it totally read just a day after it was realeased.

Wonderful series of books. It just sucks that I have to wait FOREVER for the next one.

Amy Ruttan said...

I just realized how very valley girl and fan girl my comment was. LOL!

Sinead M said...

Amy, you should have heard the last conversation between Molly and me, same thing, totally gushing about the Quinn, Blay, Lash and John subplots. And yes, totally Rhevenge. Am now eager to read his book.
I think we even giggled...

Amy Ruttan said...

Giggling, oh yeah. I throw in a couple of snorts for good measure.

But Rhevenge's book it gonna be HOT. I can't wait to see what kind of heroine she'll drum up for him.

I was so disappointed in Vishous's. *sigh*

I'm hoping Rhev's will be that ... nope keeping mouth shut and screaming into my pillow. LOL!

Sinead M said...

hey, Amy, two words.. scorpion venom..

seriously, the stuff she did with Rhevenge in this book was amazing, and then the couple of characters she introduced..

the woman is pure genious..

Maureen McGowan said...

You guys are KILLING ME. I've barely started the book. These days by the time I pick up a book I'm so wiped and/or my own book is so prominent in my mind, I can't read anymore.

As soon as I get this fracking ms e-mailed to my agent... Can't wait.

Have to say JR Ward is killing me right now, too. Feel like every time I get an idea I think is cool and fresh, I read her next book and find she's already done it. I've only read 20 pages of this new one, and already I want to change something in my WIP in case someone finds it derivative... Damn.

Kimber Chin said...

Jeepers, I can barely handle two POV's. My characters are such chatty thinkers.

Kristin said...

Okay, am I a total jerk for not wanting to even pick up a book with a character named 'Rhevenge'? Are you kidding me?

I know this series is very popular...but Rhev, Rhevenge, etc.

Please don't hate me.....

Sinead M said...

Kristin, definitely don't have you. The names, seriously, are nothing short of ridiculous, and when I read the first, I was completly thrown by the dialogue, which is very GUY... but you get sucked in and you don't notice the stupid names or the over the top dialogue, because you're turning the pages to find out what is going to happen next.
And yep, Rhevenge, ridiculous name, but what she does with the character in this latest book.
She's completely setting him up to have his own book, but in a way that just makes you badly want to read it.
And can't say any more or I'd risk spoilers..

Kristin said...

This is what a friend tells me...but I've had bad experiences with reading books with ridiculous names and never being able to STOP thinking about it.

Or just hard to pronounce.

It really ruins the reading experience for me. Maybe someday I'll try her, though. I've heard great things about her books.

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