Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn’s first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Website: www.diannmills.com
Auditioning for POV
Finding the perfect point-of-view character for a novel is like a movie audition. Everyone wants to be a star, but not everyone is hero, heroine, or villain material. Some characters aren’t motivated enough to rise to the top. How do you choose who will carry the lead roles in your novel?
I suggest having the characters complete a questionnaire before you invest energy into a lengthy character sketch, personality testing, and a deep psychological workup. The best stories limit the number of POV (point of view) characters to those who must have a voice for the goal to be reached or the problem to be solved. For your characters to be complex, they need multiple roles, which ensure a complex plot with deep motivation. But a multiple-role character doesn’t mean he/she needs a POV. Decisions are tough.
Every time we ask readers to change POVs, we’re asking them to make an adjustment. The switch to another character must be vital to the story. A true hero, heroine, or villain must be bigger than life. Heroes and heroines are courageous, and villains have the skills to overcome anything the hero or heroine tosses in their paths. Will the character conceal these traits or flaunt them? Much depends on the voice your story needs and how the writer rates the importance. When a writer conducts a POV audition, those who have the skills don’t have to be at the beginning of the line, but they will finish well.
Consider the following items before you post who will receive the coveted roles of POV characters, and don’t be alarmed if only one voice is needed.
1. Ability to change and grow: Does your character have the traits necessary to make changes in his/her personality and lifestyle? Does the character have the capacity to grow through the novel?
2. Backstory: The character’s life before chapter one, line one shows who he/she is and how the character has embraced life. Is the character a survivor or a victim? Does he/she initiate the action? Why do you think a reader will want to invest in the character?
3. Confidence: A character cannot take on a strong voice unless he/she has confidence in the ability to find the tools needed to succeed. Confidence is often seen in how the character speaks, treats others, and expresses his/her individuality.
4. Ethics: A well-developed character has a strong moral foundation, either from a religious background or how he/she has personalized life. The character’s actions and reactions throughout the story will reflect her ethics.
5. Likability: Does the character possess an extraordinary, even peculiar, personality that the reader will enjoy?
6. Passion: Does the character have passion for the story problem, life, and people?
7. Preparation: How has the character prepared for the huge undertaking of achieving a goal or solving a problem?
8. Problem: What problem has the character discovered that he/she cannot ignore?
9. Purpose: Why does this character want to be a part of your story? What motivates him/her?
10. Time and energy: If the character is willing to risk all to accomplish a goal, is that character willing to invest hours and risk exhaustion to achieve success?
Now that your characters have auditioned for a point-of-view voice in your story, who has the traits to make your story a success? Who will leave a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of the readers? And who has the most to lose if he/she isn’t able to reach the goal?
Your characters are anxiously awaiting your decision. More important, your readers are excited about your next novel, and I know you won’t disappoint them.