Deciding on a story’s tone and POV

So while my Honey story is still waiting for me to finish part 3 a new scenario has been nagging at me to get written down. My problem though is that I can’t decide what tone and point of view I want to write it from. I was trying to get started on it last night and I kept jumping from opening line to opening line, from the roommate to the sister to a flashback with the grandparents. Ping-ponging between a lighthearted jokey-joke style ala the Deck of Cards series, to a more traditional setup and payoff YA style like Creating Aiden, to a more focused get-to-the-sexy-bits-now story like Enforcer: Interrogation.

Does anyone get this anxiety when they feel they have a good story idea, and there’s so many ways you can think of to tell it, but you feel like you can only can tell it once? What helps you decide?

Although two “alwayses”;

I always know the PoV, because I am only capable of writing in the 1st person.

And the second ‘always’ is, I always know how to begin a story.

Usually if it goes wrong after that, I chalk it down to “oh well. Delete. Try again in a month”.

For the first time ever, there may be a scene I have to write in 3rd person (coming up in a story), and I was seriously considering changing the events to make it 1st person, even if it means changing the events.

Like we’re taking say, a scene where the hero is unconscious.
I either have to find a way to get the event that occurred to him, told to him, (so I have to punch in an unseen impartial witness into the story) or, have a means of making him like, ‘a floating consciousness witnessing it’ because [insert cheap magical excuse].

Or, learn how to write in 3rd person.

Or, the reader will miss like, 40% of the most vital parts of the narrative pay off, and even I’m not ballsy enough to attempt to leave that size a portion of the narrative out.

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When I originally wrote the short story PHOLUS REBORN, I wrote it in 1st person. When I expanded it into a novel, naturally I kept it in 1st and about a third of the way in, realized it should be in 3rd because I’m limiting the action to what the narrator can see/ hear/ touch etc. so there was no breakaway for subplots etc.

I should’ve rewritten the whole thing but I proceeded forward cuz I’m lazy. And it did force my hand on the climax of the book.

In the sequel, I’ve switched to 3rd person and it works so much better !!!

I’m still a new writer (of erotica, anyway) but I wrote my first story in 1st person and it was easy as pie. My second story needed to be 3rd person so I could have things going on while the primary POV character was unconscious. It wound up being worth the effort to write the whole thing in 3rd person because it does free you in a lot of ways.

What you miss out on though is the ability to easily convey the thoughts in your POV character’s head, which adds intimacy. The limited perspective of the narrator can also be used for many important things like building mystery and suspense. I wound up liking both styles.


I like to constantly switch POV characters because it allows me to get in their heads, especially when writing serialized fiction like I am now where there 300 characters….

I’ve found that writing more of the story will sometimes help with that. You may get to a point where you realize that a particular scene would benefit from a certain person’s POV or where you need multiple POVs. If you outline in a fair bit of detail, you may not even need to do a lot of writing. Personally, my outlines aren’t in that much detail (if they exist anywhere other than my head at all), but everyone’s approach to writing is different. Of course, if you approach it this way and write out a good chunk of your story before realizing it’s not working, which can mean scrapping a large chunk of work, especially if it takes you multiple attempts. It can also be a bit confusing for you, because you lose track of what you’ve written about in any given version.

Sometimes, I’ve gotten away with introducing information the character shouldn’t know by spreading it around to a few different people as they talk to him, or even just one character, like a police officer or superhero who themselves is just learning the details. Maybe they’re running late cuz their superhero outfit was in the laundry? :laughing:

If you’re writing multiple POVs, some of the information could be introduced via someone else altogether if it’s not something that the unconscious character actually needs to know (or at least not right away).

In my most recent , I had been using exactly this technique. It ended up being me keeping track of who knew what when?

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Sometimes I read my plotting spreadsheet and I realize it’s a more interesting story from one of the other perspectives - so suddenly that’s my main character.

I recently wrote a story where someone finds a genie and wishes that their husband would become a bro. I wrote a couple thousand words before I realized I was “telling” and not “showing”, so I scrapped the draft and told it from the husbands perspective. Way hotter.

I prefer to write in first person, so when I find myself needing multiple POVs to tell a story well, I usually restructure the story so that there’s one character who can tell it. If I was writing a TV show, sure, multiple POVs are great, but in short stories I find them cumbersome.


In regards to telling vs showing, I think many modern writers have become a little too prescriptive. There’s a lot to be said for showing instead of telling, and some of the advice on adverbs is sort of okay-ish, but I disagree completely with the hard-line “no adverbs” approach that some people take. I think people have forgotten that writing as a craft, not a set of rules.

As far as restructuring goes, I can’t count how many times I’ve restructured a story to be from someone else’s POV, often dumping thosands of words in the process. So I have sympathy for anyone who has to rewrite. Sometimes, I think my style would benefit from a more detailed outline, but I like my way. Even if I scrap thousands of words, I enjoyed the writing itself.

I agree under some circumstances, but in this case it made a better story.

Yeah, cause adverbs are a useful part of the language, and good storytelling needs all the tools it can get. I understand some people overuse them, but some people oversalt food and I still use salt when I cook.

I routinely break the bullshit rules. I’m fond of writing dialog like:

because despite knowing that nobody ‘laughs’ a line, it gets the point across and does it quickly.

Rules are made for breaking, just so long as you’re doing it on purpose and for a good reason.

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Rules are meant to be broken. But two I stick with are

  1. about 90% of dialogue verbs should just be “said” or “says”. “Said” is basically just punctuation for dialogue, and the majority of the time your dialogue should speak on its own. Of course there are exceptions - your use of laughed for example - but in general I don’t want to overload non-said dialogue verbs.

  2. Unless it’s your explicit intent to write an omniscient narrator with frequent POV hops, you should not shift POV within a section or chapter. Even in 3rd person, I only look into the mind of one person per section / chapter, and don’t describe anything that character wouldn’t know or see. It breaks immersion if you just read 2000 words from one POV, then in an offhand line you’re reading the thoughts of another character, just to hop back to the first POV. It can work to just have all character’s POV and inner thoughts at once, all the time, but IMO that tends to read like a children’s storybook so I avoid it (unless that’s the tone I’m going for). An exception is if you’re writing it more like a screenplay, in which case you write from the POV of a fly on the wall watching it all happen - but this also means you should be careful about inserting anyone’s explicit thought dialogue or inserting character’s feelings that aren’t being observed because it might feel out of place.


Hah, I’m guilty of using adverbs. If I have to obey too many rules in writing erotica then it kills the fun, I might as well be writing an academic paper.

I was particularly happy with this line from my last story because I thought it was both funny and sinister at the same time, sinister because of what the character is saying and funny because I as the narrator pointed out (using an adverb) that the character was being nasty.

“That was terribly rude of me, Officer O’Connor.” The Doctor apologized, stepping towards Cody. “I should have gotten you properly plugged and gagged before we proceeded with this, it helps patients with the stress, you see.” He added, unhelpfully.

“unhelpfully” is an adverb. Would the line be improved with a “said” instead? I cannot agree.

And who the hell wants only kisses in erotic fiction? Without adverbs you cannot have gentle or soft kisses, nor rough or forceful ones.

Whoever made that rule needs to be put in timeout.

Thank you so much for this way of thinking about it. I know that I absorbed that “don’t overuse ‘said’” rule way back in middle school and have had to correct that over correction. Thinking of it as punctuation makes it much easier to not overthink.

I’ve read Stephen King’s “On Writing” book and he offers some solid advice on how most writing rules are bullshit. He knocks down that criticism of adverbs as well as encourages people to play with sentence structure. Take any noun, any verb, and you have a sentence. “Plumbs Defy.”

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He must have said that later in his career or something, cuz he’s famous for his quote, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

Lmao, upon a quick google search it turns out that line is straight from that book, so fuck my drag. It’s been a hot few years since I read it but my strongest recollection is his ambivalence towards rigid rules including his own.


Here’s something I believe: As writers, we all think we know the rules for good writing. We also believe we’re the only ones qualified to break them.

Break all the rules, just do it with intent.

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Well I can recall hearing from more than one English teacher, and later from an English professor that in creative writing you have more liberty with the rules. I never took any creative writing classes, I don’t know whether that was a good or bad thing because really the only way to become a better writer is to write. It’s not like many other subjects where education at least sets you up for entry level work. With writing, if you never write you can never be a writer no matter how much studying you do. And if you write enough, you are a writer regardless of your education.

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It feels as if., adverbs are the “dim7” chords of writing.

A verb is a verb is a verb, and a noun is a noun is a noun. Adverbs can be put almost anywhere. They can be sprinkled with wild abandon.

I think the rules of thumb are there to stop them taking over your stories and writing techniques like weeds choking other forms of expression.

They’re so useful for filling and smoothing the cracks in your sentencing deftly and soundly (badum tish). The many stigmas are probably there to stop you letting them encroach and choke your entire style.