Friday, 13 July 2012


I am really pleased to welcome Trisha Ashley to my blog, her latest book Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues is on  the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers List. Over to you Trisha :-

Trisha Ashley: Points of view in the novel.

First of all, a big thank-you to Charlotte (who I met recently for afternoon tea!) for inviting me onto her blog to talk a little bit about point of view in the novel.

I am on contemporary romantic comedy novel number twelve or thirteen  – it depends on whether you count the rewrite of an earlier novel as a new one, or not – and they are always in first-person.  I find I can slip inside the heroine’s skin so much easier that way and become someone quite different to myself by seeing things through their eyes. So I’m a shape-shifter, even if I don’t have to put myself to bed in a bucket.
       But when writing in first person, you have to remember that the main protagonist can only know what she sees, hears, or is told about – you can’t just shift to someone else’s viewpoint in a scene. This  can be challenging when you have, say, a historic parallel story to weave in, but I quite often introduce someone else’s first person viewpoint in the form of  diary entries, letters or, in the case of my latest novel, Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues, via a recorded family memoir.   And occasionally I introduce that second first person voice more directly, for example, in the sections from Fergal’s in Good Husband Material.     
      Sometimes, too, I will write a third person prologue, set back in time.  This gives me the freedom to outline a situation which will have later repercussions in the contemporary story, or  show a point in my main protagonist’s life that throws up the premise of the novel, by which I mean the main question, or questions, that must be answered, resolved or satisfied by the end of the book.
      To a first-time novelist I would say: write in third person past tense and severely limit the number of your viewpoints.  But if you must write first person, then don’t yet attempt to do it in present tense.  Sophie Kinsella makes it looks so easy, because she is an excellent and experienced author, but it’s actually terribly hard to pull off successfully, so save it for a later novel.  (It is a common fallacy that a book that’s easy to read, is also easy to write.)
         And multiple first-person viewpoint novels need a master storyteller, like Barbara Kingsolver. Her novel, The Poisonwood Bible, is a brilliant example.
      But if you must write your very first novel in first person, then do it in past tense.  Let your main protagonist find his or her own voice and tell the story for you: it will not be your story – they will not think in situations the way you would, speak as you would, or act as you would….I think that’s really what I like best about it.
    Oh, and avoid starting every single sentence with ‘I….’

Trisha’s website at has a list of her books and a special free Jubilee story.  You can also email her, write in her guestbook, or join her quarterly newsletter.

Trisha also has a giveaway today if you would like to win a  copy of Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues then please leave a blog post comment.

(The afternoon Tea Trisha mentioned at the beginning of her blog post)
Thank you so much for coming on my blog today Trisha, it has been a real pleasure.


  1. Really helpful tips. I'm always a bit stuck when it comes to the POV hops etc. I have read so many that hop between the main characters and I dont find them annoying at all!

  2. Yes, I always find my self head hopping to. Thanks for the advise Trisha x

  3. Great tips :-) Thanks!
    I agree with the comment about if its easy to read, its easy to write, surely?! NO! I think if its easy to read, thats because the author has put blood, sweat and tears into it, ensuring its flawless....definitely not easy! :-)

  4. I've been finding that most first person pov stories have a character with a dry, sarcastic outlook--which is fun to read, but I wonder if first person is just hard to write for a more timid character.

  5. I truly believe that if a book is easy to read then the author has you gripped from the beginning. Trisha has the art and talent of making her reader pick up her books and not letting you out of sight until the last page has been completed. That's the true art of a story teller. That's Trisha Ashley. Welcome to her imagination x

  6. Thank you, Sarah-Louise! I've enjoyed reading all the interesting comments and I wish those of you writing first novels every success.
    x Trisha

  7. Samantha congratulations you have won the copy of Chocolate Shoe's and Wedding Blues. :) Could you please send me your details so we can get it winging it's way to you.