Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let's Talk About POV

Let's talk about first, baby.
Let's talk about POV.
Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.

Ummm... sorry for the impromptu song. The minute I typed the subject, the old song popped into my head - with new words. (I do that all the time, btw, but that's a story for another day.)

Anyway, onward to POV. When I first started this writing thing, I thought 3rd omni was the only way to go. What better way to show everything you need to show then by becoming the god of the book and narrating everything from outside the story? After all, the majority of my favorite books were third omni. Weren't they?

Uhhh. I must've missed that day in English. Thinking about it now, some are third limited. But still...

My first two books are written in third omni. I don't think I did a bad job of it, really. Those people who've read Spectacle and Caldera told me I did a good job with third omni. But (there's always a 'but' isn't there?), a few kind hearts told me people aren't really interested in third omni anymore. I guess it's dated. (Which makes sense since most of my favorite books at the time date mid-20th century and earlier.)

Okay, fine. I can do third limited. It took a little work to shift away from the omniscient view of my worlds, but I did it. Every book I've finished* since Caldera has been in that POV. I like it and it works for me. I still catch myself dancing through a little head-hop every now and then, but if I don't catch it during editing, my beta readers and crit partners usually do.

I'm a big proponent of 'write the book the way it needs to be written'. Usually the story tells me where it needs to go. (Okay, okay... Put away the 'I love me jacket'. I know the books aren't really talking to me.) Except when it doesn't.

You see, this new WIP - the one I just trashed 30K word for - is having a split personality disorder. The words in my head are first person, but when they hit the page, they're third limited. I tried to write it in first. Really I did. I thought that since the muse was talking to me in first, the book wanted to be written in first and my fingers were rebelling.


I tried writing a scene out in first, and the process made pulling teeth without anesthesia look like a fun endeavor. I got a page and a half written in a half hour (keeping in mind I'm still writing longhand, that's still way too long for so few words). Then I rewrote the same scene in third limited, and the sucker just flew out onto the pages.

What does this mean? I'm not sure really. My brain is still feeding me snippets of scenes in first - like I'm inside Jo's head - but the words come out through my hands in third. I may write the whole damn book, and then go back to switch it all into first. :shrug: Whatever gets the job done.

Maybe this is the way this particular book needs to be written. Third at first and then First in the end. Confusing? Heh. To paraphrase the ever-wise Steven Wright: I'm like this all the time.

What do you think? Ever written a book in one POV and changed it? Ever tried to write the same scene from different POVs? How'd it work for you?

What's your favorite POV to write in, and which POV do you prefer to read? Are they the same?

* I have an unfinished novel in first. It's still a viable story that works in first POV, I just have to finish it.

(Darling Daughter pointed out that she didn't have any clue what song I was talking about. If you don't recognize the song from the paraphrasing, it's Let's Talk About Sex by Salt n Pepa.)


  1. I switch between 1st and 3rd L in my different stories. I agree, it's whatever the story needs. The two novels I wrote are both 1st person stories and I could not imagine them being anything less. My shorter stories, however, could not possibly work in 1st. They had to be 3rd Limited.

    I've never had a story that demanded 3rd but was talking to me in 1st. That doesn't sound like fun at all. *hugs*

  2. I'm really struggling with POV. I wrote three short stories in first, centered around my main character, Laurel. I changed one to third to see how it resonated, then started working them all into a novel in 3rd limited... wanting to go back to 1st, but I feel that it's trite in first person. I am torn. I feel your pain.