As much as I love reading, I don't seem to do very much of it.
Going to the book store is an adventure fraught with disappointment. I wish I could find a really good book!
I bought a copy of Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup, the fellow who wrote Slumdog Millionaire. Bev is not a fan of multiple points of view--especially if we're talking more than 3. This book kind of makes me see her point.
The novel jumps from one point of view to the next--each of the six suspects in a murder case. Eventually the reader learns why the suspects want to kill the villain--yes, kill the villain--but the reader must jump between six different heads to do it. The writing is good. The stories are good. I just don't want to be in these people's heads. The reason I don't want to be in their heads is that just as soon as I start to care about one of the heads, Swarup changes point of view. This makes me tired. I've stopped reading the book and I'm only about a third of the way through. The multiple points of view just don't work for me.
My novel has multiple points of view. Bev has been valiantly editing it. At first she was frustrated with the multiple points of view, but she kept soldiering on (maybe in the hopes of seeing my writing improve). She has admitted (quietly, so as not to be recorded) that maybe the multiple points of view thing might work--sometimes.
Well. The kicker for all writing is: Does it work? That's the ultimate question: Does it (whatever style, method, mode, model, fashion etc.) work?
I read the entire Twilight series. I rate the writing about a "C", but I couldn't put it down and I didn't really want to put it down. It was candy. My 16 year-old had the same problem, except he wasn't about to admit he was reading this chick-lit, girl meets ultimate safe, bad boy. He read the series in hiding. I mean literally in hiding...under the covers with a flashlight in the middle of the night.
Eventually, when he could expound on the series with a long, philosophical analysis of what he viewed as the primary theme of the novels, he admitted he'd read the whole thing. His idea of the theme was: "Can evil control itself and behave?" One of the vampires was a Christian when he was changed into a vampire and he injects morality--thou shalt not murder--into the near-dead persons he transforms into vampires. Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series mentions this, but doesn't really develop the theme specifically. Bella and Edward never focus on God, or His Laws, at all. To my son's mind this under-developed theme is a huge missed opportunity for the series to be something bigger and better than teenage love angst--a true classic.
The Twilight series may not be the greatest writing on the planet, but it works. The story is compelling--even if all it does is feed into that teenage girl desire to obtain a safe, bad boy, something that doesn't normally exist in the real world. The story has some unique parts that are entertaining and good teen age dialogue and humor. It works.
What works for one person won't work for someone else. Some people rave about novels I can't stand. I rave about novels other people can't stand. Twilight's power will have to be measured twenty or more years from now in order to truly ascertain whether or not any real power ever existed. Some novels work only for the age in which they were written, sometimes that age is only a few years long, then they fall into obscurity never to be resurrected. What I'd like to achieve is a novel that works from now on. There's a reason why Jane Austen's fiction is still on the best seller list, or why Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo is still in print or why anybody still cares about Cyrano De Bergerac--there's something about that fiction that really works. Something beyond good writing, which those all have. Something that is timeless.
Seriously, fiction first has to "work" right now otherwise there's no standing the test of time.
Bev's reluctance to tolerate multiple points of view forces me to analyze why I feel compelled to have them. I blame James Clavell. I have read Shogun, Gai-Jin, Noble House, King Rat and Whirlwind. He includes multiple points of view. I liked it when he did it. Bev forces me to ask and answer this question: do the multiple points of view advance the story line or are they just a cop out because I'm lazy?
Does it work? If it works, go for it.