when the pov character can’t make it

Finishing this last chapter, I ran into a bit of a surprise. My villain is smarter than I’d planned. He has given my hero some false information to keep his attention focused elsewhere, and is trying to solve the problem of the rogue heroine on his own. … Without my pov character being present.

The hero doesn’t get to hear what’s going on, not yet, at least. Important things are going on, and they can’t be ‘filmed’. As pretty much the last obstacle in this book (and I still very much like my plot, even if it’s not to-code, as formulas go), this has been giving me some trouble. Worse, since it’s near the end, there’s no time for another subplot.

So, what do you do?

I came up with a few ideas to work around this, and I thought that I’d share.

Timeskip. Move to a place where the character can hear what’s going on. It might be a little late, in some cases, but there’s very little wrong with throwing a character into a developed situation that they’re not expecting. Shake them up and watch them stumble about a bit. So what if you couldn’t see things developing? Figure out what’s going on as new bombs explode on the poor guy. The downside? It’s hard to keep the character confused without doing the same to your audience.

Plot Device. This one’s a little hacky. Give the hero a spy for whatever reason. I don’t actually like this idea as much as the last, but it will work, especially if you want to carefully control what the character does and doesn’t know.

Rework It. So your hero is shut off? Change the situation– find a reason that they can get there, whether it’s reorganizing how things lay out or tweaking your other characters (in this case, my villain) so that the option of inviting the POV-guy is worth whatever downside.

Figure It Out. In this case, this isn’t an option for me. But in others, this is a nice alternative. Someone says something that reminds the character of something else. Put their ‘aha’ moment far away from the event. Spur them on that way. This isn’t always an option, but if so, you can motivate the character and get the pace increasing.

Just a few thoughts that I had on the situation. Feel free to add your own!

4 thoughts on “when the pov character can’t make it

  1. What about a false figure it out? Basically this your last option with a twist. The ‘aha!’ moment is a realization of something that’s factually incorrect, but nevertheless leads your character into the situation you need her to be in, where the truth is discovered.

    Well, that’s the type of thing I do.

  2. I always figure these problems out in the bath. If it’s a big problem I come out looking very flushed. Nice to see that other people make it up as they go along too. I’m not above using the good old deus ex machina get out clause. In fact I use it regularly. It’s amazing what a little black box with a winking light can do for a story line. Drat – I’ve given myself away: I’m not a great literary genius!

  3. How about incorporating another character or element – one that’s already had an interesting presence in the story and could fit the situation?

    • With a third person limited POV, though, that’s hard to do. Especially if you’re using a strict style and only using two characters for your camera. It could be an option, and if I were using more characters, it certainly would be easier.

      This is a rather old post; it’s not an issue anymore because I ended up reworking the situation– by pulling the rug out from under the villains with my other protagonist and leaving them reliant on their prisoner.

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