Monday, August 8, 2011

Who gets to be the star? (aka: How do you choose who narrates?)

I recently interviewed another author for the blog and asked her a question about how she chose her POV character (in this case a male). It made me think about how anyone chooses a POV character, or if it’s even a choice.

For me, it’s never been a matter of choosing a narrator. I don’t outline. I don’t have any clue what my books are going to be about. They all start with a character. The character pops into my head and starts telling me a story, which I type in as fast as I can. So, in reality, I don’t choose a narrator. A narrator chooses me.

I know I just admitted to having voices in my head, which makes me sound like him -->
But I'm mostly not crazy. Really. However, I don’t set daily word counts because I can only write when my characters have something to say. The stories unfold as my characters live them, just as my life unfolds as I live it.

So…this all makes it sound like I don’t even really need to be there…which is almost true. Except my characters would never take the time to actually write their stories down, so that’s where I come in. =)

So now I’m curious. For those of you who outline: You have a cast of characters. You know where your story is going. How do you choose which of your characters takes it there? How do you choose your narrator?


  1. I have to say I always outline but that doesn't stop new characters popping up now and again! I don't choose who narrates though, it just happens if that makes sense

  2. I'm in the same boat, more or less. A narrator usually pops into my head as I outline. Not fully formed as Athena, but a "voice" that insists I tell "their" story.

    Which is why it's nigh impossible for me to write third person. :p

  3. I write the same way you do. Most of the time I feel like the characters are the ones telling me the story and I'm just writing it down.

    There was some choice in my last work in progress when I went from four narrators to two but I wouldn't have even considered it if it wasn't for the fact that I had severe writers' block with two of them.

    I don't outline, but I do write a rough plot summary before I start because the first few novels I ever wrote had severe plot issues (they were meandering so much that I didn't have a central plot). Beyond that, though, I rarely know specific plot events before I get close to writing them.

  4. I outline heavily, but it's more so a way for me to sort out the voices and organize thoughts in the best way. I'll often write and discard chapters because, although they helped me get to know my characters better, they weren't doing the story justice. I very rarely can just start writing; I like to have a clear vision of where I'm going, although I do add to it as I go along.

    I also rarely start with the first chapter - I'll start with a scene I can envision and feel certain I want in the story.

    As far as narrative, I usually just know. I'll often find characters who I absolutely love and could theoretically write from their perspective, but that's just not that way the story goes (even though of course I'm making it all up in my head :) It never feels that way.)