One of the things a writer learns with experience is when to stick by her guns, go with her gut, and when to change direction.
I’m still learning.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about point of view. I’m afraid I may be using the wrong one.
When I started my novel, I envisioned three characters, three cities, three first-person points of view. First person just felt right, and it went along with one of the themes of the novel: individual expression versus community.
I wrote the first character’s chapters. I wrote the second character’s chapters. I wrote most of the third character’s chapters. I threw out the third character’s chapters. I decided to intermix the other two character’s chapters. Years of my life flew by.
I am now a little more than halfway through revising and rewriting so that the plot flows consistently. And I wonder, should I scrap the first-person point of view and move to third-person. The problem is that one of the two voices is stronger than the other. But I’m categorically opposed to doing some chapters in first-person and and others in third. And I don’t think one character can tell the whole story.
Compounding my problem: I’ve been reading “Away,” by Amy Bloom, a really good historical novel set in the mid-1920s. Bloom uses the omniscient point of view to very good effect, although most of the time we stick with the point of view of her heroine, Lillian. In Bloom’s hands, omniscient seems so … easy … useful. She doesn’t have to differentiate two voices. She doesn’t have to sound like a woman or a man, because she’s the Godlike narrator.
Alice McDermott has said that when she wrote “Charming Billy,” she tried her darnedest to write in the omniscient point of view. But the first person kept sneaking in, and eventually, she realized that the story was being told by somebody. That somebody is not a main character, but she embodies women as the keepers and conveyors of family stories.
So I guess the answer will come to me–eventually.