I started Short-Straw Bride a little wary, having read quite a few forced wedding stories of late, but Witemeyer dressed up the cliched story-line with a "trap" theme that blew me away. The heroine is caught in a bear-trap at the beginning of the story, and after trying to warn the hero of trouble, she finds herself "trapped" in a forced wedding deal. Even the story's exciting climax was styled with a "trap". This was the first time I'd taken notice of a theme done well, and it has left its mark on me.
I've heard authors preach against more than two (maybe three) POVs (point-of-view characters), and until reading Wedded to War, I never paid the advice much heed. The story's historical detail is its charm; its hook, the character "Ruby". But rather than enrich my reading experience, the numerous POVs held me back from a connection with the two women who carried the story.
Reading these books back-to-back led me to ponder story theme, POV, and how they work together. Not that I'm anyone to listen to when it comes to the writing craft, but here's my takeaway:
A POV character should have a critical role in the main plot thread. When a story gives voice to characters who don't play a part in the overall story question, the plot blurs, the theme is lost, and the reader is distracted from the characters/developments that matter. Yes, I believe a secondary character's POV can work, when they are near the heart of the plot. When their perspective intensifies the main conflict. Save a novel. Cut out all those extra and distracting POVs, and give them their own books later.
More often than not, whittling down to one or two POVs will strengthen the story, and bring the plot into sharper focus.
A story's theme should be loud and clear. Look for ways to point at the theme--events in the story, analogies. Character arcs.
These books blessed me tremendously. They helped me answer some critical questions about my own WIP, and make some tough decisions that ultimately pulled me out of the rut I'd fallen into. I'm so glad I got a chance to read them both!
So what's your opinion on multiple POVs? Do you think that the hero's POV should always be included in a story, regardless of whether or not he plays an important role in the story?