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On Writing: Vulnerable or “Quiet” POV

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The best piece of writing advice I got when first starting off in switching up Points of View was to imagine a pair of glasses, – my book’s world would be viewed through those glasses, and POV was basically as though one character had taken those glasses and put them on.

What would you see through those glasses? What would they take in first? How would they feel? Probably not the same as all the others.

If there’s one huge importance in books with Multiple POV, it’s the fact each POV has to  bring something distinctive to the table.

If every single POV is going to be the same type of thought – the same personality, the same opinion on everything, then the reader will get muddled up. The temptation, then, is to make every single character’s POV absolutely larger than life or very much stark contrasts to each other, which in theory can work. But most books benefit from the vulnerable, or ‘quiet’ POV, where the character may not be the most talkative or the boldest, but rather offering a unique perspective.

POV is all about highlighting the nuances of what makes that character valuable to the story and different to the others.

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If you have a major cast with distinct personalities then switching up POV will work absolute wonders. In my recent YA Fantasy I have three POV. The only reason I went with three for mine and not two, was that I knew each of them would bring a totally different opinion and nuance / arc to the major plot.

There’s one who has magic, but doesn’t know how / why, initially quiet after living a sheltered life and very sensitive.

There’s one who knows how to use her magic, a determined force of nature, steel of heart and sarcastic.

And then there’s one who has no magic at all, breaks tension with humour, and is braver than he believes.

Their individual arcs and development shines through each POV – all of them start at one particular part of their personality and end at a totally different, or evolved state of their beliefs.

But what of the quiet POV? The first one, who’s very naive in some ways, contemplative and shrewd, who isn’t aware of the wider world and is a sensitive soul. They see a different part of the world when it’s revealed to them than the others who’ve walked the paths before. Their own view is in contrast to the others – their goal is also naturally different by default, from their position as a quieter person.

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“But quiet characters are boring!” Not so. Rather, they can be the epitome of “it’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for”. There’s a reason strong silent types draw in mystery, and you can have fun with them. What they can witness  while being a strong silent type, or even a nervous silent type, can bring a deeper sense of the situation, things unseen or unnoticed by the brasher characters, which gives the reader even more depth of space in your world.

I really appreciate a sensitive or quiet POV, because when everything is blowing up and you have characters screaming at the sidelines, sometimes you need a port in the storm to catch your breath. A quiet POV can bring that balance, and more importantly that deeper sense of self, which enriches the story you’re trying to create.

So, celebrate the tiny voice! Celebrate the person who prefers to text than talk, or speaks only when they have something to say, rather than to fill a silence. They’ll be someone’s favourite, I guarantee it.

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