Point of View–What’s your Favorite?

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…

9 thoughts on “Point of View–What’s your Favorite?

  1. I adore reading, for me it doesn't matter how it's told as long as it keeps me interested!! As for writing though, I'm first person all the way, whether it be the view of a serial killer or a girl who has just been dumped. I love the connection.But, just so you know, I'm down for the Choose Your Own Adventure story… I LOVED THOSE.Happy Writing! Happy Monday! Great to meet you!

  2. I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books, too!!And I also write in first person present most of the time. Though I write YA, so it's more common in that genre. But I applaud you for using it in historical fiction! I think it's a fun POV. I think my agent actually represents an author who wrote a book in 2nd person!Amy

  3. Hi Amy, you know, I never made that connection that the reason I like some YA is because it's in the 1st person viewpoint! I just can't imagine using 2nd person, unless you're writing literary fiction or something kind of edgy like that!

  4. Ah, I thought I was the only one who remember those "Choose Your Own ending Adventures"-I always ended up stranded or dead on the first try though…As for writing in 1st or 3rd person. I have come to the conclusion that most YA is in first person because, perhaps it resonates more with young readers and doesn't seem so set apart from the characters' lives.

  5. I LOVE first person and that is actually how I write! I have finished my first novel (seeking representation) and it is in first person. I don't think it is possible for me to not write that way, because I "see" through a characters eyes and feel what they feel as I write. A good example of a really popular first person novel is the Twilight Series. I know that isn't Christian (understatement), but it shows there are readers out there who enjoy reading first person present tense. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my classic favs!

  6. I love having all these comments from my fellow writers! Please become a follower of my blog, if you want, since I do talk mostly about writing on here and I LOVE hearing your input. I haven't read the Twilight series for about 2 years, so I couldn't remember if it was 1st person or not. But you're right–it totally worked. I agree, it's so easy to feel w/your characters if you're standing in their shoes, TC.

  7. I'm following! Thanks, so glad to have met you! Blogging opens up so many doors to meeting wonderful people. Please feel free to follow me as well. My blog generally talks about current events/politics from a Christian perspective and it has many posts related to what God is speaking to me about. I don't talk much about writing since I am so new to it (plus I feel God calling me to write on these topics). I would love to have to join and add a fresh perspective.

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