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Documenting my odyssey into the wonderful world of fantasy writing and beyond. Can't promise I will always be on topic as the world is vast and full of such wonderous, and sometimes terrible, distractions. Email me: cassandra.jade.author@gmail.com

22 June, 2009

Point of View

When I first started this blog, I did a post on the trouble I had writing in first person. I followed that with a post sharing links to other blogs that discussed the benefits and disadvantages of first person. Admittedly I wrote both of these back when I first started my blog and I was the only person reading it.

Today I'm having another look at point of view and sharing yet more links. Admittedly, I have been avoiding writing in first person since my first ms. I found it way too limiting for extended writing as far as what I could and could not share with the audience. I am going to risk heading back to first person in a couple of months when I start a project I've been thinking about for a long time, but it is only after extended thought and planning that I've chosen to write in first person.

If you want the very brief definition (very-very brief definition) this list of literary terms is quite good as a quick reference guide. It keeps it simple and to the point and is fairly clear.

My own experience has told me that first person is great in the short term if you want to get inside a characters head, but is really difficult to maintain over an entire novel length manuscript because anything your character does not know is really hard to convey to the audience. In a fantasy or sci-fi particularly, it is unlikely your character can explain how everything works, and at times the reader is going to be left a little baffled.

Third person allows the narrator to fill the reader in on a lot of extra information, plus move between characters to where the action is occurring, but makes it harder to show the inner-character. This is how I feel about the styles at least. Feel free to comment and add your own view.

Jeanne of "the Raisin Chronicles" gives her own definitions of point of view and examples. Well worth a read.

K.M. Weiland of "Wordplay" has a list of reference books that have pretty much everything on writing, including one that looks at plot structure and point of view.

Nathan Bransford also shares his view on the first person or third person debate and some of the comments accompanying this post are well worth the read.

3 comments:

  1. Good post. While I don't necessarily agree that first person leaves out alot or is hard to convey information to the audience, I do agree that it is incredibly difficult. The benefit of first person is that the reader can literally see the world you are building as if they are walking through it via the MC's shoes. You can give the reader a very in-depth view into the MC's perspective, and the things that the MC misses enhances their believability as a character rather than detracting from it. Oops, sorry. Didn't mean to step up on my own soapbox :) Thanks for making me think about it though.

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  2. Most of my writing is my own memories, thoughts, feelings and observations so I'm not using a variety of POVs. If I want to venture into fiction, I'll have to get a handle on that important ingredient in writing.

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  3. Thanks Eric for the comment. You're right about first person making it easier to convey a new world to the audience because you can literally describe it through the charactes eyes. I just find it hard to not explain things that the character can't possibly know.

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