I like character driven fiction. I think almost every reader will say much the same – and most writers will say they write character driven fiction. This isn’t the same thing as saying there’s no story. There’s always a story, but a really good novel, the one you can’t put down and sticks with you for decades, those have fully realized characters.
Erica Orloff recently blogged about getting rid of a character. In her case, the character was fully fleshed out, too fleshed out for the story at hand. Sometimes that happens. We know all of our characters, inside and out. But the reader doesn’t need to know all of these things. And sometimes they just detract from the story, because their own story starts to take away from the movement.
One of the things that struck me in writing my middle grade was that having a firm grasp on the different characters wasn’t enough. I also had to have a firm grasp on who they were to my POV character. They say there are three sides to every story – yours, mine, and the truth. Well, the writer knows the truth. We know each character’s motivation, background, exactly what, where, and when... But our characters, if we’re honest with them, can’t possibly be privy to all of that.
My POV character is eleven. I found the biggest challenge in honestly portraying his mother. His mother is around my age, and I get her on a deeper level than he possibly could, because I’m not restricted by her title – MOM. But I had to keep that title in mind while I was writing the novel. The reader had to get her through my mc’s filter. She’s a newly single woman in her mid thirties. In another novel, she might easily be the heroine or love interest. But not in this one. I’m in my thirties now and I still can’t think of my parents as sexual beings... obviously they are or I wouldn’t be keying this in right now... but it would be off the mark to have that aspect of the character portrayed in this telling.
How does the point of view in your novel color your characters? Have you ever read a book where characters stepped outside of the pov filter? Did it work for you or did it ring wrong?