One of the first things a fiction writer has to do is to choose a point of view: the character from whose perspective the story will be told. Sometimes the point of view is anchored in one character or another. Sometimes it floats from one character to another, either tightly or loosely. The author needs to decide how much control she wants to exercise over the point of view. For much more on this technical subject, go here.
When I started the China series, I chose first-person POV. Mostly, this was because I wanted to create a distinctive voice (both internal speech and speech) for China, but I have to confess that I was also operating under the influence of Nancy Pickard (the Jenny Cain series) and Sue Grafton, who was up to "F" when I began to think about China. And to tell the truth, FP POV is somewhat easier for a novice novelist, because the novel (except for other characters' dialogue) takes place in one character's brain--so to speak. That is, when you read a China novel, you're getting all (and only) China's take on everything in the world, except when another character speaks.
You can see the advantages, especially in a series of books. Once I got to know China, it was really easy to slip into her character and let her tell the story. And readers enjoy it, too because once they get to know China, they find it easy to slip into her character. If the POV character is friendly and inviting, FP POV can have a "friendly" feel to it that readers enjoy and look forward to. (Conversely, if the POV character is angry, ugly, bitter, readers are likely to be put off.)
On the other hand, FP POV is devilishly hard to work with when you're writing a mystery. To be fair, I have to put out all the clues, not hold anything back. The readers know everything that China knows, and if I'm not careful, they will solve the mystery before she does. (I handled a clue clumsily in Rosemary Remembered and got lots of mail from people who thought China was totally dumb for not spotting the give-away clue when they did.)This is a real problem because I have a mix of readers (don't we all?): people who work hard at solving the mystery, read a lot of mysteries, and are very good sleuths; and people who read for the characters and don't give a flip for the mystery. I have to write for both.
And it's also a problem over a long series, like China's, when readers (and/or this author!) get a little . . . well, bored with the China-only books. In Nightshade (comes out next April), I told part of the story from McQuaid's point of view. He and China are working to solve the same case, but from different angles. He knows things she doesn't know, and vice versa, and the readers get to know it all (but are still, I hope, surprised by who-dunnit). To easily distinguish between the two voices, I chose to tell McQuaid's story in third-person POV, present tense. I'll talk more about that when you've had a chance to read that book.
I've set it up differently in Wormwood (the book I'm working on now), where there is the present story (told from China's familiar FP POV) and the past story, told from several points of view. The two stories intersect much more loosely than do the China/McQuaid stories in Nightshade. I'm eager to know how you'll respond to both of these experiments. Some readers will probably prefer the simpler FP POV. I'll hear wails of "not enough China!" Others will welcome the experiment. So we'll see.
Writing log. I had to spend several writing days this week paying attention to my upcoming blog tour (scheduling, writing posts, setting up web pages, etc.). The announcement goes out tomorrow, but you can have a preview peek at the schedule here. And since the announcement of the new book review website went out on Monday, Paula, Linda, and I have been deluged with queries that had to be handled. As a result, I've only logged three writing days in the past six, with a total of 3k words--not much forward progress. But I straightened out some plot snarls, added some in-depth characterization, and thought of another twist. So I'm feeling okay about it. I'm up to 43k words, about 50% done, and pretty much on schedule, aiming to complete the book by the first or second week of December. I'm out Tuesday-Thursday in the coming week, too (Lubbock and Dallas). Friday will be catch-up, and Sunday is the Texas Book Festival. I'll be glad when I can arrange more consecutive writing days!
Reading note. And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.--Sylvia Plath