Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG - Narrative POV?

She, he, her, his, they, them, I, me, us... so many!

Anyway, it's time for another installation of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month and is run by our Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh.  Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!  Seriously, I love this support group!

I'm a bit insecure about narrative point-of-view this month.  Which do I choose?

Super quick overview of Point-Of-View (POV):

First person - I, me Omniscient
Second person - you
Third person - She/he 

My first four novels (granted all of them are shelved until further notice, pigs fly, or the Rapture) are written in first person limited.  The fifth is written in third person limited and the sixth novel is written in first person again.  I can see the definite benefits to each point of view, but there are limitations to both.  I enjoy writing in first person since it feels more personable and intimate with the character.  "Nameless" is written in third person because the first half of the book is written from a male POV.  I'm not a dude.  Nope, definitely not a dude and I didn't feel comfortable writing first person that way.

I'm waiting to hear back from my lovely CP's for "Defiance" and I started a novella, tentatively called Project K.  I started writing in third person switched to first person and back to third person.  I'm having trouble picking a voice to tell her story in.  Lainey is a being a difficult character.  I have to pick a "voice" for her.

So, my question is...

How do you decide in which POV the story should be told?

23 comments:

  1. Sometimes, it's a trial and error process for me to figure out in which POV I should be writing a story. If something isn't working for me, I try a different POV and see if that makes a difference.

    But my main two POVs of choice are 1st person present tense, and 3rd person limited past tense.

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    1. It's really become a trial and error process - hopefully I can figure it out! :)

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  2. My current WIP has switched between 1st and 3rd several times. I perfer 3rd (got it hammered into my head in those good old school days), but I've learned that when I write it in 3rd, then switch it to 1st during the first revision, and then go back and switch it to 3rd, that it helps deepen the voice. Okay, maybe it's too much work, but sometimes I need the crutch ;)

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    1. That does sound like a good way to strength the voice! You must know it inside and outside by the end. :)

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  3. I voted for 3rd person, because I do find it to be my preference, but I have written in all 3 types of narrative, and just find that certain narratives just fit certain pieces just right. I would always say that to begin with, go with what feels natural. Some stories are focused on a main character almost solely, and their POV is key. Other, broader stories may have a huge cast of pivotal characters who will all need to give their perspective. It really does depend on what you're hoping to create.

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  4. I normally write in 3rd person, but I did write one short story in first person and enjoyed it, so I'd like to get the courage to do a novel that way. I think it's so hard to get that authentic voice and stay consistent though.
    I laughed about your novels shelved until the Rapture or pigs flying, LOL. I hope you will let them out before it comes to that!

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    1. It can be so hard to get that authentic voice. Sometimes I feel mine sound the same.

      I might let them out before it comes to that! If they are lucky. :)

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  5. Ooh! Good question. I guess I just hear voices in my head. I gravitate towards writing in first person, like many, but chose third for my current WIP because there was a lot of history and back-story I needed to give.
    Thanks for stopping by my nut-tree earlier. ALways enjoy your blog.
    ~Just Jill

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    1. I'm leaning more towards 3rd person because I feel I can be a little more objective, because in 1st person I'd only see her POV.

      Thanks! :) You are very welcome!

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  6. I write in first person normally (present tense). However my first novel was 3rd person and I was able to get into the head of the two main characters that way. I really think it depends on what the book needs. As for your difficult character, Lainey...maybe try writing some scenes in both 1st person and 3rd person. Heck maybe even try 2nd! My latest work in progress is 1st person present tense with the main character narrating to her sister ("you"). It's kinda fun! Good luck figuring it out Krista and i hope you have time today to stop by my blog! :-)

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  7. When I first wrote my current WIP, it was in third person. I'd read a lot of third person, and it was what I was comfortable with. When it came time to revise, I switched it to first person...and it gave a new life to the whole story. I think which POV you use depends on the story and how it wants to be told.

    Nice to meet you!

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  8. I've tried both first and third person. Um, at risk of sounding stupid... has a book ever been written in second person? I'm trying to imagne what that would be like and.. no, I can't even imagine it. A poem, maybe. A whole novel? That would be awkward.
    It depends on the genre, I guess. For example, and I don't know if this generalization actually applies, Romance novels have a tendency of being in dual, third person PoV. At least the embarrasing amount of them I've read are like that.
    YA has more room to develop first person because, in my opinion, teenagers are somewhat biased about the world. It's rare to have a teenage girl having a holistic view of life because that takes time to develop. I could be wrong, of course.
    And it's also important what "feels" right for your novel. I have 2 YA novels, one in thrid person and one in thrid person, with multiple point of views. I wanted to give my boys an active voice in my story and that was the easiest way for me to do it.

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  9. It might sound stupid but I've never really thought about it. With novels I just start writing and it's in third person. I've only written a few flash pieces in first... I guess deep down I worry about the difficulty of sustaining that over a whole novel as everything has to be witnessed by your protagonist. However I read a book recently, Nancy S Thompson's The Mistaken, that had multiple 1st person narrators. She announced the chosen character at the start of each section. I thought that was cool because you got to see the same events interpreted by differing POVs. Something to think about!

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  10. I used to write third person limited, but I've recently started writing in first person. Like you said, it allows you to get into your character's head so much more. I've also recently started writing in present tense, but I have no idea where that came from!

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  11. I always write in 3rd limited; it's how most of the fantasy I've ever read is written. Recently, a lot of dark fantasy is written in 1st person (which I had previously associated iwth YA and paranormal romance) so it's quite refreshing.

    Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom

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  12. Love the new look of your blog! I always pick 3rd person becasue I think it offers the most versatility. Of course, everyone is different. The point is to try both and see what fits for your style :)

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  13. That's a great question, and I love your header!

    It depends on the story for me. If it's epic and swaps POV, I like third best, but if it's lite and funny, 1st person captures that really well. I have a hard time getting into serious first person or light-hearted third person, if you catch my drift, but that's me. :)

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  14. I don't know! My first novella was in third, and I went through and changed it all to first at the end of last year! Lately I've been writing in first just because that's whose voice comes to me.
    ps. I love your new banner! Beautiful!

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  15. Most of the books I read are in third person, so that just felt natural to me. (That and I didn't want to be in my character's head THAT much.) You just have to write what feels natural.

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  16. Usually everything I write is in third person. I feel most comfortable in that POV. Yet sometimes with short stories, I find myself writing in first person. You can get more emotion and insight in a shorter piece that way.

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  17. I tend to go with my gut, which I know isn't very helpful. I prefer third person most of the time, however, since it's less limited than first person and I can give the reader information the MC doesn't know/observe.

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  18. Definitely going with your gut is the right way to go. Normally your first impulse is the right one.

    However, if you're still unsure, my suggestion would be to pick one of your scenes that is about half a page long with some good dialogue and description. Write it in a different POV. Do this for both points of view. Then, write it from the perspective of the other character. I did these exercises in my Creative Writing class. It's really fascinating and a fun exercise. Maybe that will give you some insight into your characters as well as help you decide what POV to use.

    I hope this helps :)

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  19. My first book (and its follow up, in production) was 1st person. It was a very personal story told with my mom, so it needed to be. My YA novel (done and about to go to editor) is third person limited. It took a while for me to get used to writing that way. But I felt like the character (another young female with adjustments like my first book) would sound too similar to my first character if I wrote 1st person again. All of this to say, you have to go with your gut.

    Wishing you the best!

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