Recent Posts

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Down With POV?

A novel is nothing but a long, one-sided conversation. Whether or not it’s a good conversation depends a lot on who’s speaking. Before a writer partakes in a project, one should consider the narration. Who is telling the story? Should it be told in first, second, or third-person? First-person can be tricky, which is why I’ll address it in this post.

Though it is a good starting tool for new authors, first-person narrative is the hardest to master. “Why?” you ask. Because the point of view is limited. You only see what the narrator sees, feel what they feel, and so on. Throughout the story, the reader knows the insides and outs of the narrator as not just a voyeur, but a participant within the tale. Like entering the portal in John Malkovich’s head, but with a longer stretch of time and a cheaper admission fee. If the narrator doesn’t see a whole lot of stuff, it makes for a pretty damn dull book.

Now, this is the trick, the narrator has to be interesting and their actions exciting. Their moral ethics, world views, and innate mannerisms are incorporated into the story and contributed to the plot. If that’s missing, the story is no better than reading a police report. The person telling the story has to be likable and something most readers can relate to. I learned that humor and anecdotes are great devices to use when applying first-person narrative. Humor breaks the ice in just about any situation. Writing is no exception.

Think of it like this, if you’re on a 12-hour road trip with someone, who would you want to sit with: a overdramatic, shallow, neurotic recluse with no purpose, OR an outgoing, observant realist who has a clever slant on viewing the world? I’ll give you a minute….

For the most part, stories are better told in THIRD PERSON when it’s more character-driven than plot-driven. That way, the reader can get a grasp of the situation through various points of view and learn more about the characters themselves. It also helps to avoid the writer’s cop-out when the main character passes out and all the cool shit happens off-screen. This is downright lazy on the part of the writer. If a fight goes down in the story, don’t Fade To Black. Show it or don’t bring it up at all.

Another reason why the first-person narrative can fail is when the story is not told from the mouth of a BELIEVABLE character. That’s the beauty of writing in first-person, when done right. The voice is relaxed; it doesn’t have to be proper, or Elizabethan. You can use slang, curse words, use silly pop references, as long as it's true to the character and their environment. Hell, make up slang. I don’t care if your protagonist attained a doctrine in English literature at age 4, no person from the 21st century talks like Elisabeth frigg’n Bennet! It would be cool if they did, but it’s a reality we all have to face.

Bottom line: If you're a stickler for formal syntax, avoid first-person narrative. If there's a ton of cool stuff happening behind the scenes, outside of your MC's range of sight, stick to third-person. Authenticity is key to all who want readers to believe your beautifully spun fabrication. Unless your character travels back in time or works and a Renaissance fair, keep it real, keep it exciting, and the reader will follow you anywhere.

7 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more. My WIP has a bigger plot and a lot more interesting characters that when put together make the book a lot more interesting, which is why I settled with third person. Would be nice to write first person someday

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post. A lot of good points here to consider, for sure.:) I write a lot of short fiction in third person but have only written novels in first.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This post couldn't have come at a better time. I'm currently in the process of changing my manuscript from third-person to first-person. I think it'll be more effective that way since it's told from multiple POVs. That way if one character misses the action, the readers still find out about it through another character. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post! For me, personally, first person is incredibly difficult to do, so I have always stuck to third. These are some great points to keep in mind. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am hesitant to agree that one POV is harder than the others. For some, first person is very easy and almost feels natural to them. Second person is very difficult to pull off in a way that doesn't annoy the reader. Third person can be limited too, to only what one character sees and feels. It also can be difficult, depending on a variety of reasons.

    Right now, I'm struggling to figure out how to do more than one character POV, which is difficult. My old critique group would always point out every instance where it seemed to be something a single character wouldn't know and it needed removed. It was almost like they thought third person limited was the only option that existed. Yet one wrote multi-first person in one of her books.

    Having more than one first person main narrator (or even third person but still limited) is not jumping around too often. As a reader, I need enough of the character to become invested in them and if it jumps around enough I don't get that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree. I've read some authors who do first p-pov really well, but I prefer 3rd both when I'm reading and writing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've written in both 3rd person and 1st person (just not at the same time). I love 1st person both to read and write, but it didn't always used to be this way.

    ReplyDelete

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

Featured Post

The Cambion Chronicles ( Book 4)

Hey guys! Have you ever had a story in your head that you just had to get out? The characters you created are so lively and outg...

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

Now Available

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

Popular Posts

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

WNDB

On My Emo Days...

On My Emo Days...
Some days are blacker than others

Followers

The Apocalypsies!!