Over the past couple of years I’ve had the privilege of going on the most amazing adventures. You guys wouldn’t believe the places I saw firsthand, the people I met, and what I experienced while on those journeys. Or maybe you would, if you’ve ever read a 1st person POV novel.
2011 was an exceptionally good year for me and my adventurous nature. I was a tribute in The Hunger Games and survived to tell my kids about it. My sister was murdered in Dublin and I went to find out the truth behind it, only to discover that I can see through fae glamour to what’s beneath, and that I can do a bunch of other neat tricks(this was a favorite of mine). I got to be a half-angel, a kickass shaman, a girly girl who wears too much pink and carries a tazer with her, and a shape shifter. Those are only the things I remember right now.
This is exactly why I love 1st person POV so much. I get to be the character, experience what he/she is going through, go to the places they go, and do things I never thought possible.
Some of you might remember I posted about tone and first lines two weeks ago. I received a comment from one of our regular commenters, bwtaylor75, who asked why I preferred my POV. I took it as a challenge. He wrote a post of his own wherein he stated why he dislikes 1st person. I’m writing this not to prove him wrong, only to share my view.
The first three paragraphs of this post do a pretty decent job at starting my reasoning for why I write my POV. Yes, I read 3rd person as well, I’m busy with such a novel right now, but there’s a little something extra special for me in 1st person POV.
They say ‘write what you know’. Then they say ‘write what you don’t know’. I once read ‘write the story you want to read’ and that’s exactly what I’m doing with every novel I write, have written, and will write. And what I want to read is 1st person POV.
This might be a little selfish, but I write 1st person for me. I get to be this character I’ve put together and decide to torture by having her make bad decisions, sending her into situations that most likely won’t end well, and I enjoy every second of it. If I’m going to spend between 65k and 80k words with her, I’m going to make sure that not a second of that time is wasted.
I don’t write it because it’s easier, never that, each POV offers its own challenges and difficulties. I write it because of the reasons mentioned above and because it works for me. It’s my preferred POV.
I’m going to say that, and you can disagree if you want, if you think writing 1st person POV is limiting, you’re not doing it right. There are ways to make it work and you have to find the one that works for you.
This once again comes down to personal preference. If you as a reader find 1st limiting, that’s okay, read something else. If you as a writer find it limiting, it’s okay, writer another POV. It’s as simple as that.
You say 1st POV has its limits. Yes, my main character can’t be everywhere and see everything BUT THAT’S PART OF THE FUN AND MYSTERY. I say 3rd POV has its limits. No, sometimes I don’t get to the bones of who your main character is BUT I GET TO EXPERIENCE OTHER THINGS AND VIEW YOUR WORLD FROM A DIFFERENT PLACE. We work around the obstacles both provide and make them work to our advantage. How’s that for compromise?
And I dare anybody to say writing 1st person is easier than 3rd because I’ll say to you WHAT! Both of these POVs have their own challenges and we write the one that will work best for our stories. Mine just happen to be 1st. Yours is 3rd.
Taylor, you’re a kickass guy and I always love reading your comments, but I respectfully disagree with most of what you posted about the limiting light of 1st person. I know you won’t take this wrong, and we’re having fun with this discussion. My POV isn’t one dimensional, and saying it is, is like saying the person sitting next to you experiences and sees the world in black and white with no shades of gray at all. Conflicting emotion, circumstances, external and internal situations, and problems. Those things create the shades. We as the writers have to do right and make sure those things are done correctly. Maybe you just haven’t been reading the right 1st person POVs.
I’m just saying, have your thinking be as wide as the ocean. No limits. In YA especially, our main characters are MCs for a reason. Yes, he/she is that important. We wouldn’t have a story otherwise.
So why do I write 1st person POV? Because I get to be somebody else for a while. I write it, and read it, for the adventures it sends me on. A little selfish? Maybe. But they also say we should write for ourselves, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Why do you write what you write?