forty-five pages in before I finally realized what was wrong with Resurrection
Impure. It’s one of the books on a list of vampire books I’m working
through as part of my genre research (“The 10 Best Vampire Novels Nobody Has Read”).
I had the
vague sense that something was off about this book. I noticed the chapters
began with random poetry-like interludes that didn’t seem to make any sense.
Whose voice is this? What information is being shared here? Why is this passage
was head-hopping, that novice-writer error wherein the narrative shifts the
point of view from one character to another seemingly at random. One chapter
began by telling us clearly what a particular character was thinking and later
in the same chapter, killing that character off.
George R. R. Martin kills off main characters, it’s not done in that
character’s actual chapter. How could the narrative continue if the point of
view was lost?
So what is Point of View (POV)?
Person the narrator uses “I” and cannot report what other characters are
thinking or feeling unless those characters share that information.
Person Limited the narrator uses “he” and “she” but focuses on one
character’s inner thoughts and feelings and expresses the other character’s
thoughts and feelings only when they volunteer that information. Otherwise, the
POV character may speculate:
guessed Pete felt left out and made eye contact with him, smiled, and winked.
doesn’t say “Pete felt left out” because that would be from Pete’s POV and the
story is from Eleanor’s. Instead, the narrator tells us what Eleanor thinks Pete
is feeling. The filter of what Eleanor thinks Pete feels is an important
tension-building dimension in the story.
PersonOmniscient narrator uses “he” and “she” and provides insight
to multiple characters’ POV. Inner thoughts and feelings are available to the
reader though obscured from other characters.
But even with
Third Person Omniscient, POV must be maintained for established periods.
Martin uses an entire chapter with the character’s name. Other writers use
spacers between passages when they change angles — like a camera changing its
problem with Resurrection Impure is that it couldn’t have been
workshopped. Discerning readers pick up head-hopping and ask the important
The most frequent question we ask in workshop is
“Whose story is this?”
answer can enable the writer to nail down the perspective. With Resurrection
Impure, I don’t think the author knows whose story this truly is.
must be compelling. The male leads here are, but the only female character is
so two-dimensional and puny that Daenerys Targaryen would surely smite her on
abandoned Resurrection Impure, I’d really like to have my $17.95 back.
fiction before you publish it. Get readers who will figure out what’s off about
it and help you correct it. Do the work.