13 December 2013

Point of View

People ask me what changed between the unpublishable Technical Difficulties and the very successful Due Diligence.

Two things.

First, me. I changed. By the time I'd finished Due Diligence I'd written four complete novels. I'd also attended weeks of writing retreats, attended regular writers circle meetings and been on plenty of writing courses.

The second big change is point of view.

The 'hero' in TD was offhand, jokey, unaware and didn't develop with the story. He was exactly the same at the end of his epic 250,000 word adventure as he was on the first page. I wrote in third person and past tense, keeping a fair distance away. This meant there was less chance of a reader to making an emotional attachment.

I decided to change point of view into one much closer and more challenging. If I'm not feeling emotionally engaged with what's happening, a reader can't be expected to be either. I wrote Due Diligence in first person and, to make it even more immediate, present tense. This is a very close viewpoint and not an easy one for a thriller. Everything has to be seen through the eyes of the one protagonist, there's no opportunity to fill in the back story or bring in another pair of eyes to broaden the scene.

To make it even more challenging, I chose a female protagonist.

Writing Due Diligence didn't come easy. There's no opportunity for automatic pilot, no chance of an easy run. And it shows. Readers are engaged by Jenny's plight, they want to see what happens next because they care about her. The plot unfolds with breathless speed courtesy of the point of view from which it's written.

So those are the changes. They've worked for me and reader response has shown they also work well for them.

Maybe, I'll write something a little more comfortable after I finish Limited Liability which will be my third Jenny Parker novel.

Perhaps I'll go back to Technical Difficulties.

On the other hand...