Thursday, September 13, 2007

Giving part of the story from a villain's pov

I've always thought that readers might want to gain an insight into a villain's mind-works in the story, but apparently that's not the case; at least not according to Samhain Publishing.

I've submitted to them one of my suspense thrillers with romantic/paranormal elements and it does open up in killer's pov since it's essential to the story and for the reader to understand where the paranormal thread/element comes from. The premise is quite simple. The killer assassinates his 'mark' but because of paranormal elements (an ancient heirloom locket the victim wears) the victim survives what for all intents and purposes is a sure-kill.

Samhain, however, feels that it is very bad to start in killer's pov or to show glimpses of what drives the killer throughout the story. This was number one 'flaw' of the story's presentation according to the editor. Number two was that there were more than one point-of-view presentation. Basically, the editor said it's not possible for the reader to follow 'threads' of the story as these are far apart by definition of what the story is but they come together as the events impact on them and force them to come together (as they must) for the story to have a resolution.

I'd like to hear from readers and writers as to whether giving insights into villain's motives and motivations is unacceptable. I've always found the books that present multi-viepoints much more interesting, especially in case of mystery-suspense and how it all flows into resolution.

And while you're at it check out my contest page on my website. There's just a few days left. If you're finding it a challenge to reply according to conditions, just drop me a line and tell me about it. It's a sunny but a bit cold day here so have a great day out there. Edita.


Twilight Fantasies-- Romance Publisher said...

I totally disagree with your editor. I've done several books with the POV of the villian incorporated and each one has been a best seller.

I think this is antiquated thinking of the part of the editor and she should give more credit to readers out there. Readers WANT to know what characters are thinking. Quit treating them like they are stupid. It's insulting to think a reader can't figure out whose saying what. If it's done properly, POV switches DONT MATTER!!!!

It took years for writers to break through the ONLY ONE POV PER BOOK belief...and now we are fighting the ONLY ONE POV PER SCENE belief. Thank the Gods, that one is going away as well.

I have one book, again, a best seller where all the POVS are used from all the characters. It has won awards and critical aclaim from reviewers and not one has claimed it was confusing or hard to follow.

POVs shouldn't be an issue for a competent writer. If you wrote the book well, and since I've seen your work, I believe you editor not allowing it for the reasons she's given is wrong.

Just because it used to be that way, doesn't mean it's right.


Ellen Ashe/Jade Jurgensen said...

Is this a new editor with a recently gained power over authors' works? Not show the villain's point of view??? whaaaaaa???Best tell that to a few famous authors- Steven King, Cormac McCarthy, Dan Brown, Larry McMurtry- then they can recall their best sellers to fit this absurb BS.

petricke said...

This is what Anne Scott at Samhain said: 'It is particularly difficult to successfully pull off an interesting first chapter in the the point of view of a killer, and I'm afraid it did not work for me. I also found that moving from scene to scene with its different characters and locations resulted in a somewhat confusing read.'

It's odd that the chapter didn't work for her because its 1st 4 sentences made it to round 4 of Samhain's "first line" contest - didn't make the cut at the end but there were some editors there that consistently thought first 4 lines had merit so it couldn't have been that uninteresting.

Now, my pov changes are 'scene-to-scene' or chapter-to-chapter, not inside any given scene so I don't see how difficult it would be to follow one-pov scene. Well, yes, we do change locales because characters and the killer maybe that was it.

I've been toying with the idea of re-writing the whole novel but it really is a puzzle with all pieces fitting in and when I tried to cut out anything, it left a hole elsewhere. I'll just shelve this one for a while, let it simmer. Thanks for the input - Edita.

Charlee Compo said...

Okay, this is precisely why even though I had the sequel to WyndMaster's Lady already contracte with Samhain, I pulled it and sold it to a publisher who appreciated the work. I had the same editor you had and she made the same stupid comment about multiple POV. She also had problems with my 'craft'. Well, I had problems with her ability to edit and considering Samhain stuck up for her (hey, let's face it: there are more writers than editors out there so guess where the loyalty is gonna be?). But if the editor isn't good at her 'craft'....

Antiquated thinking? You betcha. I completely agree that it is insulting to the reader. Samhain needs to take another look at what's going on in the real world of publishing.

Buy any book by Feehan, Kenon, Ward...any of the latest hot picks and you'll find multiple POV.

As for the POV of the bad guy? I'd say that was a refreshing way to go. Find yourself another publisher and don't look back.

Layne Blacque said...

Best of luck with your manuscript, Edita. I am also nursing a book whose villain gets a POV shot. My writing buddies have been encouraging, but I wonder if an editor will feel the same.

Evanne said...


Perhaps Samhain is more traditional romance minded--my villain and I are very grateful to NCP broadminded editorial policies.

Happy writing,


Angela James said...

Samhain will not, of course, suit every author, just as every author will not suit Samhain. Our editors are top notch and I have every confidence in their work and I think the glowing praise from the majority of authors who've been through edits with our editors speaks for itself. Yes, I will "stick up for them" when I, the publisher and the editor all hold the same point of view on a book's needed edits, but since I hired and trained them all, you might call me a bit biased ;)

But in the end, every editor's work is subjective, just as every reviewer's review is subjective and every comment on a blog is subjective, so it's the author's prerogative to take what she can from the experience and toss out the rest. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you!

Ilona said...

Inquiring minds desire to see a snippet of the work in question. :P

Ellen Ashe/Jade Jurgensen said...

This isn't a matter of arguing over whether or not a few commas are misplaced. POV from several characters is all part of writing a GOOD story, and one of the reasons we as authors choose 3rd person rather than 1st. Add to this, accomplished authors, and I mean the BIG sellers, use various points of view. So WHY does one editor seem to think it's not acceptable??
Or maybe they all think this way- as stated how they were trained. And from my understanding there is a high turn over in editors.
Oh gee.. wonder why...
Sorry, but I can NOT get my head around this editor's POV!!

Edita A. Petrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilona said...

Thank you so much for the snippet! :)

Edita A. Petrick said...

I'll remove it. I clicked on copy in Word and it picked up the whole chapter. Then I was too lazy to undo it. Sorry. Edita.

Ilona said...

I'm a big fan of the snippets. I wasn't being funny. I think yours has some really interesting passages.

"Conversions of great ornate edifices, such as this opera house, had not only halted, but the trend had reversed. No more steel and plastic lofts. Back to the past and its gilded grandeur. American hearts were always aflutter, their moods in a continual state of flux. He had used such instability to his advantage."

An astute observation here, telling at once of society and the killer.

You have me at a bit of disadvantage, Edita. I know nothing about you. On the net you meet all kinds of people. Some are consummate professionals, able to take the most brutal criticism, and some fly off the handle at the mere suggestion that their work isn't the best thing since sliced bread. I tend to be extremely blunt in my observations when it comes to writing, and I have learned to keep my opinions to myself.

Receiving criticism is always hard. When I got my first honest professional evaluation of my work, I almost cried. I just sat there numb and stared at the screen. I wouldn't want to inflict my opinion on another person uninvited for the fear that I might accidentally cause a similar feeling by saying something in passing. I never know if they are in a vulnerable place with their writing at the moment. The last thing I want to do is hurt someone's feelings or cause some offense.

So I read the chapter and simply chose not to say anything. I didn't mean to come off as being flippant. I do very much appreciate that you have so graciously posted the first chapter at my request.

Lesson to self: do not make requests for snippet on writer's blogs :).

Marissa Scott said...

No, it is not acceptable.

Shiloh Walker said...

I don't know that I'd call Samhain
traditionally minded

I've got a book there where the heroine was raped and for some more traditional publishers, that's a major no-no.

I do know that the publisher as a whole isn't 100% dead set against POV switches.

From what I'm gathering, a lot of this is subjectional. Editors are people~and as people they have things they like, things they don't, opinions that might not mesh with yours. Your story didn't connect with the editor. For whatever reason. It happens.

Not the funnest thing in the world, but it's a fact of a writer's life.

Best of luck with it elsewhere~