Behind Whose Eyes

I feel like I should add a link to the song Behind Blue Eyes. Becuase that is all about point of view, in my opinion. A whiny person, complaining that no one knows what it is like to be them. And while I would not like this person to be the narrator in my story, it made me think long and hard about my characters and how I lay out my story.

As a kid, I loved choose your own adventure stories. I would spend hours re-reading every choice, trying out all the new possibilities. Often, I died at least four times before surviving the adventure, but that was part of the fun! When I moved on to middle school and started reading fanfiction (and writing some. Thank goodness quizilla was deleted!) I realized what I had loved about CYOA’s. The point of view. Written in second person, I was able to be the deep sea diver (Or the hobbit Samwise Gamgee was in love with…) and experience everything first hand. While I do not write in second person, and I don’t even know how that would even be possible with a normal novel, this just supports my theory. Point of view is extremely important and can make or break a story.

Today I googled, which is easier to write, first or third? As you can guess, I didn’t really get an answer because there are so many factors that contribute to that questions. But it really got my brain moving. Whenever I start a novel I tend to start in first person, but by the end of the first page, I change to third.  Writing in first person is just difficult for me, and I cannot stand the repetitive I’s. Which is crazy, because I love reading in first person and don’t notice anything repetitive at all. This seems to be a major trend in YA literature right now. I ate up The Hunger Games, and read Divergent (to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite). The first person narration made the story move quickly and helped me bond with the characters, well Katniss. I hated Tris. Prim was my sister, Shannon, when she died I felt the loss. I feel that is the secret to an effective narrator. Someone the audience can root for and identify with, but more importantly, someone the author can identify with. The feelings need to be genuine.

James Patterson uses POV in a very cool way during the book I am currently reading The Murder House. One of his main characters, Detective Murphey, speaks with first person POV, while another main character Noah Walker is described in third. This is awesome because there is also a mystery narrator who you are trying to decide if he is Noah or not, so the distance adds to the aura. (I love this book, go out and read it!) This really opened my eyes. You do not have to choose one way and stick with it, opening up a whole new playing field. Maybe I write in third person, but my character has a diary that is written in first (Although this has the potential to get very boring and repetitive). Or I take after Patterson and try multiple narrators, the possibilities are endless!

In all my writing so far, I have used third. I used to use first when I wrote my horrible fanfiction and as a kid through teen, but I have moved on for now. I really enjoy third because of the opportunities. You do not have to stick to one person’s abilities or stay in their head when the pace is moving slow. Third person allows you to flesh out scenes and make note of things your characters may not notice at the time. Also, something I do frequently, is change scenes. When my characters are separated during a major scene, switching between them and leaving off at cliff hangers can really rocket up the tension. There is a danger, though. And this danger could potentially ruin a book. The characters being too similar. They may speak differently, but once you are in their head, they act similar. And this may just be my issue as a beginner, but it is something I am working very hard on for my second novel.

Some recent ideas I have had are making the times in other heads more interesting by fleshing out their personalities. Maybe one is very observant and always takes note of their surroundings while the other like to move fast, the only thing that matters is the goal. The latter section would be more direct and to the point, without much description. Another idea I am toying with is writing characters with differing abilities. Maybe a character is blind or deaf and that would change how the perceive the world, also opening the story up for more plot points. I also believe this is important for representation. All people should be able to open a book and connect with a character. And while it is very possible (and this happens all the time) to connect with a narrator that is different from yourself, the choice should still be available. I have loved books written with mostly male characters (LOTR!) but I feel directly connected to Katniss. I think it is important to show people of all kinds saving the world and making a difference. A small exception to this is do not make every single book starring an atypical character about overcoming their problems. Not every book with a lesbian needs to be a coming out story. Maybe she is archaeologist that found a hidden temple and just happens to be gay. I love strong female characters, but in the scene where the face the men laughing at them for trying to be strong, I always roll my eyes. I have read that scene a million times. There is more to a character’s identity than one thing. Wow, that was sort of off topic. Thank you for reading my tangent!

Anyways, now that I have gotten off my soap box. What is next for me? Well, I have started to plan my third novel so I do not forget my idea. I had had the idea earlier, and wrote down a few details, but I really want to make sure I do not forget. I have decided to try to use Patterson’s model for POV, with one I character and other narrators in third person. I want to include a deaf character which means I will be doing a lot of research on deaf culture. I love sign language and am very fascinated with the community so I can’t wait! My main goal in my future novels is to use POV to get to know the character themselves. Not just to dictate my story. This is strongly related to my tendency to Tell and not show.


What kind of POV do you like to write in?


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