Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Here's looking at you, kid... by Cathy Ace

Craft: POV. Do you have tricks for writing multi protagonist stories? Multi POV stories? 

This is an interesting one! I write in different ways across the range of my books, so here goes…

My Cait Morgan Mysteries are all told in the first person, from Cait’s point of view (POV). Why? Well, a couple of reasons. The first novel I ever wrote was the first Cait Morgan Mystery (The Corpse with the Silver Tongue) and it felt completely natural to me to write the entire book from Cait’s POV, because Cait is quite similar to me in many ways, and I felt it was the most direct way to connect the reader to the character who is telling her story. The other reason is a bit more sneaky (contrived?); I wanted to subvert the tradition of all those hard-boiled private eye books being written from the PI’s POV, and use it in what is a series of traditional, golden-age-inspired mysteries. I did diverge from Cait’s POV for a short part of the 8th book in the series (The Corpse with the Ruby Lips), when Cait is (no spoilers) let’s say “indisposed” and therefore unable to tell her side of the story. At that point I used the third person, observational POV, allowing the story to progress for the reader, despite Cait not being capable of being the storyteller. Hopefully, using this first person POV really does make the reader feel as though they are not just beside Cait, but actually inside her head as they read…and letters I get from readers suggest that at least some do. Click here for more information about the Cait Morgan Mysteries

My WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries are written in the third person, but each chapter adopts a different character’s POV. I do my best to use the sort of vocabulary and syntax that character would use in their heads…which is always fun to do. This is a series featuring four professional private eyes, so – again – I wanted to subvert the traditional way that PI books are written by using various POVs. With this style of writing I find it’s important to tell the reader quickly, at the start of each chapter, whose POV they are reading, and – in these books – I did that within the text, rather than in the chapter heading. Click here for link to amazon

In The Wrong Boy I challenged myself to use a specific POV for each chapter. I signaled this by telling the reader in the chapter heading who it was they were “with” at that time, and allowed the story to progress across a range of characters…with only the reader knowing the full story. Why? Well, The Wrong Boy is a tale of psychological suspense, but I’d read a lot of that type of book as part of my preparation and had become rather annoyed by how many “unreliable narrators” were out there. Thus, I used a bit of a sneaky device for telling the story…everyone who tells their story is equally reliable/unreliable as they are all telling the reader their truth – but, as in real life – we all only ever know a part of what’s going on at any given time. I wanted the reader to be the one who pieces everything together right up to the end of the book, where they are the only person with a full knowledge of what’s happened, and why. Apparently, it worked well. Click here for more information about THE WRONG BOY

But back to Cait, and Bud, and their latest trip to the desert…the 12th Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse with the Turquoise Toes, was published last week, and it’s already doing very well (thank you to everyone who’s chosen to spend some more time with Cait and Bud!) and the first review is in! 

Crime Fiction Lover says: “In The Corpse with the Turquoise Toes, Ace has crafted another taut puzzle for Cait and Bud to solve. Alongside the murder mystery itself, the highly atmospheric story weaves together contemporary concerns, Native American mythology, international cuisine, thwarted romance and cult-based craziness, leaving the daring detective duo with plenty of avenues to follow in their quest for the truth.” WOOT! Full review here

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