Monday, November 2, 2009

Point of View Ramblings

I love this topic. Mostly because I've been thinking about point of view recently, and how I managed to stumble into writing in first person when I always (and here's a secret I've never admitted in public) HATED reading first person books.

Seriously. I did.

I would actively not purchase books that were written in first person, I disliked that point of view so much. But then, a funny thing happened. I wrote a book that had to be told in first person. Oh, I tried third person, but guess what? It so wasn't right for the story, so I wrote the book the way I felt it should be told, and that was in first person point of view.

And an even funnier thing happened: that book sold.

So, with the sale of my first book, A TASTE OF MAGIC, it seemed I had to re-think my take on first person told tales. After all, if I wanted other people to give my story a chance, then I definitely had to take a chance on other stories I'd previously refused to read. And I found a whole new world of books to love.

From A TASTE OF MAGIC, I wrote A STROKE OF MAGIC, and then A BREATH OF MAGIC, and all of them are told in first person. Of course, they're part of a series, so sticking with first person for this series makes sense. But I've also found that I really enjoy writing and reading in first person point of view. And yep, this is something I would never have believed as little as three years ago.

I still love third person books too. That hasn't changed. Now, what I focus on is the story itself, the voice of the narrator(s), and the characters. So, with that in mind, here's my take on point of view, from this writer's standpoint.

Let me preface with a reminder that the following is MY opinion.

When I decided to write A TASTE OF MAGIC, I started off in first person--because it felt right, but then, due to my aforementioned dislike of first person, I tried to re-write the opening chapters in third. It so didn't work. The rhythym was off. The tone was wrong. And, I found that I really needed the deeper PoV to tell Elizabeth's story the way it needed to be told.

Plus, dare I say it? The story was just funnier in first person. The wit was stronger, the angst went deeper, and--maybe even more importantly--the story flew from my fingertips. In third person, the same story with the same dialogue and the same action just didn't have the easy, breezy feel I was going for. And the words definitely did not fly from fingertips.

However, I'm working on a proposal now that is in third person. And for this particular story, first person wouldn't work at all. I need to have several point of views in this story (well, you can do this in first person, but I prefer third), for one thing, and for another, I'm going for a little less breezy. Besides which, my gut tells me that third person is right for this book, just as my gut told me that first person was right for A TASTE OF MAGIC. And hey, that book sold, so trusting my gut seems like the appropriate method to use.

So um, yeah, my take isn't all that scientific. I decide on point of view by what feels right, by the characters, and by the story I want to tell. And then I give it a whirl. And hope for the best.

Though, even now, it still surprises me that I've written three books in first person. That I'll be writing at least one more in first person, and that I'm even looking forward to it. And, strangely enough, while I've written so much more in third person (stuff that hasn't sold, btw), I'm finding that writing in first person seems easier.

But that won't stop me from writing this current proposal in third. Growing as a writer is essential, so I'm pushing myself forward and...yep...hoping for the best.

And, in the meantime, I'm reading books that are written in first and third and am enjoying them for the stories they tell, and am appreciating the way they're told.


Maureen Lipinski said...

I love that our writing can still surprise us! Great post, Tracy!

~*Jessica Rabbit*~ said...

I loooooove 1st person views. Because it makes it more my adventure,because I'm the main character when reading the story. But I also love 3rd person view because though I still imagine it as I'm the 1st person the 3rd person is talking about I just pretend that I'm the fly on the 2nd persons wall and I get to know what he's thinking....I just confused myself.LOL.