Saturday, June 09, 2012

Writing from the villain's point of view

Lately I'm finding I don't have the patience or interest to read crime fiction that includes or relies on the villain's point of view.

I used to enjoy books like this. James W. Hall writes great villains-- I loved the creepy bad guys he created in the early Thorn books in particular. Ditto some of James Patterson's early books.

I even tried this myself. Mahu Fire included big chunks written from the point of view of my brother/sister team of villians, in which I worked to understand their motives and humanize them. It was important work for me; I wanted to understand what made someone tick who worked so hard to take rights away from others. In a larger sense, what could cause a person to kill someone else?

When I submitted the book to my editor, it came back with a note that there wasn't enough of Kimo in it, and I had to fix that. I realized that I had short-changed Kimo in the investigation. Because I was showing so much of the action through the villains' point of view, I wasn't showing Kimo figuring things out. I ended up throwing out all the third person stuff and making Kimo do all the work.

But I didn't learn my lesson. When I wrote the first draft of Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, once again I wrote big sections from the point of view of the young man who is one of the two guys chasing after Aidan and Liam because of the information they have.

In this case I wasn't holding back information, though, I was duplicating it-- showing the same action through both parties. I thought I was adding continuity. But instead, when I submitted that first version to Loose Id, my very perceptive editor returned it with a rejection, noting that the action was very slow, and there wasn't enough emphasis on the romance.

Once again, I went back and stripped out a whole point of view. By focusing on Aidan and Liam (still in third person, mostly from Aidan's point of view, but occasionally from Liam's) the action moved more quickly, and I was able to stay focused on the romance.

Maybe these two are connected-- my inability to write convincingly and clearly from the villain's point of view, and my lack of interest in reading that way any more. Or maybe not. What do you think? Can you read that way? Write that way?

Coming Tuesday June 12 from Loose Id: Olives for the Stranger, the fourth Aidan & Liam romance adventure!

Monday, June 04, 2012

I'm participating (as my alter ego Scarlett Jacobs) in the Sizzling Summer Reads event at The Romance Reviews. Click here to see the authors and publishers who are participating in this event, which runs from July 1, to July 31, with fun, games and prizes!