As I’m editing my historical fiction novel, I’m running into quite a few people who are genuinely shocked that I’m writing in FIRST PERSON point of view. This means that my main character, Gudrid, talks like this:
“I smell ocean salt and sweat from ship-work on him. The darkened circles under his eyes tell me that he hasn’t been sleeping enough.”
Instead of THIRD PERSON, which looks more like this:
“Gudrid smells ocean salt and sweat from ship-work on him. The darkened circles under his eyes tell her that he hasn’t been sleeping enough.”
Now, if I really wanted to be wacko, I could do SECOND PERSON, and it would be like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book (man, I loved those!)
“You smell ocean salt and sweat from ship-work on him. The darkened circles under his eyes tell you that he hasn’t been sleeping enough.” (At which point, you’ll have to choose if you’ll drug him so he can finally sleep, or just feed him to angry crocodiles….just kidding).
I also go way out of the historical fiction comfort zone by writing in present tense, instead of past. Why do I write this way? I did it in Otherworld. I’m doing it again in God’s Daughter. Bottom line is that I write what I’d want to read. I like the immediacy of first person POV in the present tense. It makes Gudrid come alive for me. Or Aurora, in Otherworld.
Will I ever change? I just might, if it means I could finally get one of my novels picked up! Makes me wonder how many famous writers “sold out” on their personal preferences in POV or even genre style, just to make a buck and “fit in” with the trends. Yes, true writers write what they want and don’t care what anyone thinks, but true writers don’t always make money on their books right away. James Joyce wrote stream-of-consciousness, and you either like him or you hate him. There’s no in-between. Would he get published today? Something tells me he wouldn’t. Maybe Thomas Hardy couldn’t, either, with his dense descriptive paragraphs. I can’t imagine my life without Hardy in it, so I’m thankful he lived then and not now.
I’d love to know the POV and even the tense of your favorite book. I’m thinking that by far the most popular style of writing is third person, past tense (Jane Austen, et all). However, To Kill a Mockingbird is first person, past tense, I believe.
Please fill us in on your favorite style! And maybe next time, I’ll just write a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure for adults…