You Should Write From Multiple POVs if Your Story Demands It

When I first got the idea to bring Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow back to life in a young adult novel, I was faced with multiple dilemmas: • Write it in a modern day or historic setting? • Portray the outlaw couple as monsters…or humans who made mistakes? • Create a love triangle, a love ‘em and leave ‘em story, or skip romance altogether? • Who should tell this story––Bonnie, Clyde, or someone else? • Do modern teens even know who Bonnie & Clyde are? GIVEAWAY: Kym is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Maureen A. won.)
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When I first got the idea to bring Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow back to life in a young adult novel, I was faced with multiple dilemmas:

• Write it in a modern day or historic setting?
• Portray the outlaw couple as monsters…or humans who made mistakes?
• Create a love triangle, a love ‘em and leave ‘em story, or skip romance altogether?
• Who should tell this story––Bonnie, Clyde, or someone else?
• Do modern teens even know who Bonnie & Clyde are?

GIVEAWAY: Kym is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Maureen A. won.)

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Kym Brunner's debut novel is WANTED; DEAD OR IN LOVE (Merit Press, June 2014).
Her second novel (also YA) is ONE SMART COOKIE (Omnific Publishing, July 2014).
When she's not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. She lives in Arlington
Heights, IL, with her family and two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus
named Sophie and Kahlua. She's repped by Eric Myers of The Spieler Agency.
Find Kim on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

First things first.

My basic underlying question was this: What would a teen girl do if she met a charismatic guy and started to fall for him BEFORE she knew he had a rap sheet?

This sorta-kinda happened to me when I was a teenager. I started dating a hot guy, a year or two older than me, who rode a motorcycle. Side note: my parents were not happy about this, but I was young and he was cute, so let’s just say that safety (and my parents’ wishes) weren’t my first priorities. On or about our third or fourth date, he lets it slip that he got his motorcycle for free. I was like, “How? Ohmigod, did you win it?” Okay, so I wasn’t the quickest draw in the West, but eventually he admitted that….why no, he stole it, but isn’t it a cool ride? My answer: Um…yeah. And wow, look at the time! I need to get right home.

I was so totally out of my element that I wasn’t sure what to say, how to act, or whether I should even get back on his bike or not. I wondered if I should give him a quick kiss goodnight or make an excuse not to, since I knew I wouldn’t be going out with him again (but didn’t have the guts to tell him that to his face).

Transport me decades into future and zhrriip! I’m at home watching a breaking news story about the Barefoot Bandit (a cute teen guy who had been eluding the Feds for two years) and I was immediately reminded of my own adventure with that handsome, motorcycle-stealing outlaw. And right then, I realize I wanted to capture (no pun intended) that queasy, mixed-up feeling of what would/could/should you do if you were a teen girl and met a sweet-talking boy who turned out to be a lawbreaker?

(Learn why writers must make themselves easy to contact.)

Now that I had the driving question in mind, I needed to execute it. I started to write about a random girl meeting a guy on the run, when the idea of bringing Bonnie and Clyde back to life sprung into my head. I wondered how many dates those two went on before Clyde admitted his criminal background to Bonnie. Based on history, I’m guessing she kissed him goodnight that evening, despite his declaration.

What made Bonnie stay with Clyde? Did he tell her flattering lies to her to get her to stay, or did she believe she couldn’t live without him? Did Clyde continue his life of crime because he really couldn’t get an honest job, or because he loved the thrill of having his name splashed across the headlines?

Ultimately, I realized that a dual POV was needed––one from a modern day teen girl and the other from Clyde Barrow himself––with the voices of the other two personalities (Jack Hale, a teen male, and Bonnie Parker) popping in as the tension increased. I wanted the reader to know each character’s true thoughts about what was going on, while at the same time, reveal which lies they kept to themselves. My intention was to write an intense and psychologically suspenseful tale, while also staying true to the historical details of Bonnie and Clyde’s lives.

It took several years of rewrites and sage advice from many brilliant minds, including my two awesome critique groups (*waves), my rock star agent Eric Myers (The Spieler Agency), freelance editor Jennifer Braunstein Rees (who edited the Hunger Games’ trilogy) and the editor of Merit Press, the hard-working and unflappable Jacquelyn Mitchard (author of many novels, including NYT bestseller The Deep End of the Ocean)–––to make all the various POVs sing like canaries.

My advice? Surrender to the calling of multiple POVs if your story demands it, making sure each character has his or her day in court to tell the truth, the whole truth, or nothing even remotely close to the truth. After all, you’re the one orchestrating this caper and it had better be good, or your book could get tossed into solitary confinement for a very long time.

(Check out the book trailer for Wanted: Dead or In Love here on YouTube.)

GIVEAWAY: Kym is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Maureen A. won.)

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