Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Is first person really the right choice for your novel?

It's the second week of October already--and you writers out there know what that means.

Halloween pumpkin field
Okay, yeah, it does mean Halloween is coming. But it also means THIS is coming:
NaNoWriMo badge
I'm not planning to officially participate in NaNo this year, because I already have about 90% of a first draft written. But what I am going to do is take the opportunity to give myself a kick in the revision pants. What better time than when thousands of other writers around the world are slaving away over their laptops, too?

The first big edit I'm making in this draft is to change the point of view from first person to third person limited. The change will mean hours and hours of painstaking work, but I really think it's the right choice for this story.

Which brings up a good question: how do you know which one is right for your story?

I know I tend to link to him a lot, but as usual, former agent Nathan Bransford has an insightful look at this topic on his blog. His perspective on where the narrative tension comes from in both POVs makes a lot of sense.

My last manuscript was in first person, so it seemed natural to jump right into the head of the main character in this one, too. But in that last manuscript, the feelings, reactions, and worldview of the viewpoint character were a major part of the story. 

This new one is a cross between an adventure story and a coming-of-age story, so it fits this description from this first vs. third person blog post of a good candidate for a third-person limited point of view: "Third-person limited offers a nice balance between a plot-driven story and a character-driven story. It is often a good choice when the outer events of your plot are closely tied to the protagonist's inner growth."

What do you think? Do you prefer the complete immersion in the character's head that first person perspective brings, or do you like a little distance?

1 comment:

  1. I see your point, but my now 13 year old son and I chose to use first person in our coming of age adventure story, Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers. Our feedback from editors and agents on our choice of POV was mixed. I guess whatever makes sense for your story. Good luck!