When I wrote my first book, I committed a cardinal sin I didn’t even realize. I head-hopped. I was in everybody’s head. It took awhile for me to understand this whole concept of point of view and even now sometimes I have to stop and think as I write: Whose head am I in right now? So I only describe the experiences of that particular person.
Point of View Police. As I’ve read stories I’ve become very tuned into point of view issues. Sometimes they come in sneakily. Sally’s face turned red. Well, that’s fine if you’re in Kenny’s head but not if you are in Renee’s. Her face can grow warm. She can realize a tendency to blush but she can’t actually see it unless she’s looking in the mirror. As an editor now it is my job to catch these sneaky little devils and work with the author to give them a quick and functional death. Muwhahaha!
But now I’ve crossed a line. Yup. I have. I’ve written several manuscripts and have read hundreds of stories and now have even edited a nice little number.
I am now a Point of view snob. It’s true. I prefer third person point of view. It’s nice. You can have more than one person in a story and I find it easier to write as well as connect with the characters.
First person point of view drives me nuts. Oh, there are some great stories (and I’ve contracted some) that have this perspective and those writers almost trick me. Not sure how they do it, but they do. One was cool in that it went from first person for the lead character and then flipped to third person for the secondary one. Kind of a cool thing but not a device I would recommend to become standard.
First person is hard because it generally limits the author to one point of view, for the entire book. *yawn*. In a first person point of view manuscript the most commonly used word is I.
Funny that I’m writing this blog post in first person. But this is a little different. It’s not fiction. These are my thoughts. And the word I is used in third person too during dialogue when they switch to first person as they talk. I also enjoy personal letters in a story that is third person. It adds variety!
Generally first person POV rubs the wrong way because as a kid (and adult) I’m reminded that the world isn’t about me. That I shouldn’t always be so self focused and never write everything with lots of “I”.
One author told me first person was a deeper point of view. Maybe, but in some ways it can make a character whiny and narcissistic if the author is not careful. Or redundant. How many of my thoughts and concerns are replays or rehashing of things that have happened? Well, that’s fine for our daily life, but boring for the reader.
In most cases, I connect better with the heart of third person POV characters. And I like the diversity of other perspectives too. It adds more drama in my opinion.
So what is your favorite point of view? I mentioned past tense . . . let’s not even get into present tense points of view for fiction . . . shoot me now.
Are you a point of view snob? What kind of perspective do you like reading from?
Hmmm. I must confess that some of my favorite novels are 1st person: ‘Rebecca’ ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Several books by my 2 favorite suspense/romance authors, Mary Stewart and Elizabeth Peters, are 1st person. But you have legitimate points. 1st person has to be handled skillfully! I certainly am not prepared to tackle it.
One thing I will probably always disagree with you on (but respect you as the pro 🙂 is that if I know from past experience that every time I get embarrassed I turn red, I probably don’t need to look in a mirror to know it is happening again. Believe me, as a habitual blusher I KNOW I am red. Wayyy too often.
And present-tense fiction? Oh, YIKES
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Well, yeah…times have changed, at least in the US, to less of an omniscient authorial voice to a closed point of view, no matter whose it is.
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