Thursday, March 3, 2016

I is for First Person

Debra takes a look at POV.

There seem to be a few generalizations in literature. Which means, this tends to be the usual, but not always the rule. At least in my brain.

Romance tends to be written in third person. Depending on the POV of a certain scene, we're in either the hero or heroine's head for various scenes. In my own work, most of the time we're in the heroine's head, with smaller glimpses into the hero's. I've found this tends to be the norm for most romance, although some are more evenly balanced than others.

YA and chick lit (Is that the right term nowadays?) tend to be written in first person more often than not. The use of the pronoun I is found throughout and we are deeply immersed in this one particular character. We can only get a read on other characters through his/her eyes.

Cozy mysteries tend to also be written in first person. As the mystery unfolds, we get to solve it along with the main character.

Denise Swanson uses an interesting combination in her Devereaux's Dime Store Mysteries. The main portion of the story is written in first person from the heroine's POV. Every once in a while, though, she slips into third person to get us into the heads of her love interests. (At this point in the series there is more than one and I'm not sure who Dev will wind up with!) This combination of viewpoints works for me, as I have no trouble distinguishing whose head we're in at any particular moment.

What I don't like is when and author uses first person for multiple characters, switching between chapters. To me, this is VERY confusing. It always takes me a while to figure out who the "I" is referring to at the beginning of each chapter or section. By the time I figure it out, I have to go back and reread to get this changed perspective in my head.

Now again, this is a generalization, not a hard and fast rule. I've read romances in first person. I've read YA and cozy mysteries in third person.

Other than a brief piece of flash fiction for a Halloween blog fest which was written in first person, I've always written in third person. And I've always stuck to only writing from the hero and heroine's POVs. I've never included a 'villain' or other protagonist's POV in my stories.

What about you? Do you agree with my generalizations or am I way off? What types of POV have you dabbled with?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

11 comments:

  1. I've never read multiple first person. I think it would be disquieting.
    The Outlander series started in first person (heroine's POV) and added third person to show other important characters' POV, just as you described. So historicals can be done well in first person.
    I don't read YA or even much NA. A good, funny POV voice is a hoot in these, IMO.

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    1. I totally agree on the good, funny first person!

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  2. Any first person POV I've read has always had the chapters labeled with who is speaking, so I don't have a problem with it, but I prefer 3rd person, personally.

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    1. For me, third person is the easiest to write.

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  3. I've only ever written in third person, but I have read books in both third and first. I do actually prefer first person books. I like living in just one person's head.

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    1. It does give a great opportunity to dig really deep into that one particular character.

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  4. I've only written in 3rd person, although my early books and a couple of my later ones were from the heroine's POV only, so I could have written them in 1st person!

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    1. I don't know if I've ever read a romance in third person using only one person's POV. Interesting.

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    2. 'His Leading Lady' and 'Dream of Paris' are both third person heroine only POV.

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  5. my opinion: learn from others, thank you.

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  6. I love first person, but because most romance readers prefer third, third is what I usually write in. However in my debut novel 'Starquest' I wanted to write the bulk of the story from the heroine's first person point of view, so the first and third part were written in the third person and the whole of the middle section, which formed the bulk of the story, was written in first person, in the form of a journal. I loved doing it this way, and readers don't seem to have had any difficulty with it.

    I really think it depends on what you as a writer are comfortable with, but also on the story itself. When I write in third person I do try to stay in deep POV and limit it to two characters,because, for me, the characters become more real and alive that way.

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