Point of View: He, She or I??

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zsattar/

I have been thinking about this post and what I should write about.  I was trying to come up with something when I came across this picture by a great friend of mine, Zeeshan Sattar.  Then, it occurred to me.  Point of View and Perspective of a story.

Point of View is whose point of view the story is told and whether it’s in first or third person.  First person is more limited because you can only see what one person sees and only know what that one person thinks.  Whereas with third, you can have two or three characters’ points of views and see more of your surroundings.  You aren’t limited to thinking one thing about something.  You’re given many different options on how to feel or see the surroundings.

On the other hand, first person point of view puts you right there in the story.  You can feel what the main character is feeling such as love or hatred.  Sadness or happiness.  Fear or elation.  Third person can limit you actually being the “I” in a story.

I have been debating with this for my second novel.  The one I am currently editing titled, “Read Me Dead,”  was in third person having four different points of view in it.  It worked, but reading over it, I thought it would work better if it was in first person.

Being a YA book, I felt like I needed my readers to connect with the main character more than they needed to connect with the killer, her brother and ex-boyfriend.  Although their perspectives are important, hers is more important.  I had to sit there and think about just who this story was about.  It wasn’t just about her being chased by her parents’ murderer, but it was also about her journey through the pain of her parents’ murderer and how important her friends are to her survival and not just in the physical way.  They help her through her emotional pain as well.  So, as I established, I want my readers in her head more so than any other character.  That’s how I came to the decision of first person POV.

I usually write in third person because with third person I can describe more.  I am loving the first person more and more, so I have moved that first person over to a series of books I’m writing.  Another YA series.  (Be prepared for vampires.  Something new for me. :P)  However, I have noticed that most YA books are in first person, and I’m starting to understand why as I write in that genre.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not pushing first person because I love third person just as well.  It’s all about what point of view you feel your story/novel/poem needs to be written in.  After studying different points of view, I have come to that realization.  It’s all about how you want your written world to be seen.  The decision is ultimately yours of course, but you, as the writer, have to decide how your selected readers see through your characters.

9 thoughts on “Point of View: He, She or I??

  1. Nice post! It’s interesting to hear your reflections especially as they relate to the kind of audience you’re targeting. My first two novels were in first-person and I’m trying a big third-person voice on for size in my new book. It seems to be working due to exactly what you are talking about–the story and the intended audience. It’s historical fiction, and it’s rather epic, so my usual first-person introspective storytelling really doesn’t fit. It’d be interesting to hear how much changed in your book when it went from third to first. I bet it has a really different feel to it!

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    1. Emerald Barnes

      Thank you! When I was at university studying writing, we discussed point of view, but I had never heard anyone talk about how it really related to what story you were writing and your intended audience. And, you know, it is very important to take that into consideration when writing. So, I get what you’re saying when you say that your latest novel needs to be in third-person. My first novel is in third-person, and I believe it should stay there. But with this second one I’m currently working on, it has changed a lot. I’m not getting the killer’s POV, so he actually will be a mystery until the end. It adds more to who he is that way. Also, by eliminating her ex-boyfriend’s POV, I can have her torn between two men she cares a lot about. Without her brother’s POV, I can keep them two at arm’s length where the story needs to be to add more tension. So, I went from 4 different perspective’s to just one in first-person. I feel closer to my main character as well, and I know that my readers will too.🙂 Thank you for leaving a comment. I appreciate hearing from you🙂

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      1. It’s very important! I used to be in a writing seminar that encouraged first-person as a way to dissolve the arm’s reach feeling and really get into the head of the protagonist. And then some folks started bringing in third-person work, and it turned into a really cool ongoing dialogue about how that choice changes the story. It sounds like you made your POV switch based on a really important realization about how your audience didn’t need to hear from those less-important (and/or evil) characters. I’m interviewing a novelist next week on my blog and I asked her a POV question because her process was fascinating–I have read several drafts of her novel over the years and watched her play with POV. Ultimately she landed on three POV characters, two telling the story in first-person, one in third–and it works! And perhaps her work in that area is what inspired me to even think I could pull off this loud third-person historical voice.

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  2. Emerald Barnes

    I’d love to read the interview. I’ll be on the lookout for it. And, I did base it on that realization. Like I was saying, it’s all about the “feel” of the novel, and how as the writer, we know what needs to happen and who needs to see it happen. I was debating on the multiple first-person POV in my novel, and I wasn’t exactly sure how it would work or how the readers would like it. I’m glad that she managed it. I may try that with some of my future endeavors! Again, thank you for commenting. I have really enjoyed chatting with a fellow writer about this! I hope you continue to follow my blog, and I will definitely keep checking out yours! It’s been a pleasure😀

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  3. I plan to publish that interview on Tuesday or Wednesday. Her thoughts on research are really useful and interesting. And I’ve enjoyed our POV conversation too! Let’s have more, OK? I love talking about the craft. We have to make so many different choices as writers–and each one impacts the whole book. It’s fun to talk about the whys and hows and the results with someone going through a similar process.

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  4. Emerald Barnes

    I know! I think we should have more as well! It really does impact the whole book, and it’s nice to see how other people view certain aspects of writing. And once someone gets me to talk about writing, I find it hard to stop. I’ll check back on your site around then to read the interview! Have a great day!

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  5. Pingback: Psychic and Reader: Synonymous terms? | Emerald Barnes' Dreaming Awake Blog

  6. This is one of those things where I have to say that I do what I do and it works for me, but I don’t think I’d recommend it as a general practice. Both novels I’ve written have been in third person until the last few chapters when they went into first person (of the same character).

    This was true of draft #1 of the third novel, too. The second draft has started out in third person limited (well, five chapters out of six so far). We’ll see where that goes.

    The mystery stories are all narrated by the detective’s assistant, of course.

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    1. Doing what you do and it working is always a good thing. That’s what I’ve learned. I haven’t regretted my decision from changing POV in that story. Going 1st person was the best idea…aside from killing off a main character in that story. 😉

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