Posted in Writing Tips

Determing the best POV and tense for your novel Part Two: Working Backwards

You have the most original plot in the world, thorough backstory planned out, a fresh voice, tons of writing motivation, and hey, let’s just face it, you’re one heck of a writer. So now you promptly sit down before your dutiful computer to begin your masterpiece. But wait. How on earth are you going to write this novel?

Who’s going to tell this story?

A kick butt heroine? Dreamy hero? Underdog? Fearful girl with lots of growth over the course of your story? How do you decide the best protagonist for your story when there are infinite possibilities for characters?

If you’re not one of those people who start building their story ideas off a character, this can be tough. It can be the turning point. You’ve plotted and planned and prepared this novel, but you hit this stage—the decision of all decisions—and decide maybe you’re not cut out for this writing thing after all.

You are.

You can do this.

So how do you determine the best POV (for those of you who don’t know, POV is point of view) for your story?

First, take a look at your story (if you’ve already got a good idea for the plot and where’s it’s going—or if you’ve gone far enough to do some outlining.) Think about what you’re trying to say with this story. What’s the theme? What message are you trying to get across? What kind of arc do you want for your main character, because you know as readers, we want to see some growth.

Once you see where your character needs to finish, work your way backwards to see where they need to start.

Is this a tale of finding courage and confidence in yourself? Then you should probably start off with someone with a healthy dose of fear in them and insecurities. Perhaps you’re serving up some humble pie. So give us an arrogant son of a gun with drop-dead good looks but just a dead personality.

Ever heard the saying that life can only be understood backwards, but you have to live it forwards? Well, luckily, that doesn’t apply with your characters. You get to see how their story ends (or if you’re going for a depressing book, how their life ends). Once you know how they’ll cross the finish line, plot backwards to get yourself to the starting point. What events are going to shift your character’s personality traits? What is going to have such an impact on them that they grow as a person? And what components of them need to grow? What are their flaws?

Let’s be honest. Readers love some seriously screwed up characters. They’re the most fun to read about, and make us feel a little less screwed up ourselves. So give us a beautifully flawed character who can navigate your story in a fresh way.

This will be a different process for every story. So let your ideas sit in your head for awhile so they’re fully cooked, then work your way backwards to figure out what kind of lead your story calls for. I guarantee the character will come to life on the page for you if you know your story well enough.

The most important thing to remember when picking a POV character is their involvement in the story. This character’s life needs to change because of the inciting incident in your plot. Their path is thrown off course, and therefore they have to navigate through your story. Make sure the character you choose is affected the most by your conflict.

How do you like to create your characters and decide on the right POV for your story? Share your thoughts in the comments!



Hello! My name is Katie and I like to write. If I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, running, playing with my dogs, or eating peanut butter ;)

2 thoughts on “Determing the best POV and tense for your novel Part Two: Working Backwards

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