Picking a Point of View

I read a lot of writing articles and magazines, which means I hear a lot of the same advice over and over—and also lots of blatantly conflicting advice. Articles about POV (point of view) and voice usually say the same 3 things:

  1. Voice has to be consistent throughout.
  2. The same plot could be completely different depending on the POV character, so choose carefully.
  3. First person (narrating using “I” and “My”—like this blog) is more difficult to pull off successfully than Third person (narrating using “she” and “he”) and therefore is not recommended for beginners.

I agree with this advice, and usually I don’t have too much trouble pinpointing my POV characters and deciding how to narrate. I usually write in 3rd person, but I have finished one book in 1st—of the 2 my roommate has read, it is her favorite, and she is a picky reader.

For my new book, though, so far I am at a loss. My POV character is a teenage girl, Lindsay. My original idea was to tell her mom’s story, but after a revelation I realized it had to be Lindsay’s story. As I’ve developed it further I’ve considered other characters’ versions of the story, but Lindsay’s will definitely be the best.

I know I will be more comfortable writing in 3rd person, but I’m not sure if that will be the best perspective in this case. For one thing, almost every young adult book, which is what this will be, is in 1st person. Teenagers probably like to feel like they are the character but are living a completely different life. First person, though, especially with a teen character, can easily sound whiny and complaining, and not many 1st person narrators are likable or endearing.

I want readers to really connect with Lindsay and to care about her quest, so I think when I start writing the story I will use 1st person. I like to challenge myself, and I want to see if I can pull off Lindsay the way she deserves.

What do you think? Do you prefer reading books in 1st or 3rd person—and if you can, give examples of your favorites!

3 thoughts on “Picking a Point of View

  1. My first instinct is to say that I enjoy 1st person books (because that’s primarily how I think when I sit down to write), yet when I go through my list of favorite books, the majority of them are 3rd person books. My favorite 1st person book is Rebecca (by Daphne duMaurier), but that isn’t exactly YA… My favorite books meant for younger readers are the Harry Potter books (3rd person) and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (3rd person). And the majority of the books written by my favorite authors are 3rd person (Carol Goodman, Sarah Addison Allen, Marian Keyes, Jennifer Donnelly). Hmm… So why is it that when I write, I prefer the 1st person? I’m not sure.

    I think when it comes down to it, as long as it’s well done, I don’t mind what the POV actually is.

  2. lawrenceez says:

    Hi, I prefer first person, although I used to prefer stories written in the first. Basically, all writing is difficult I would suggest giving first person a go.

  3. lawrenceez says:

    Sorry, I meant I used to prefer reading stories in Third Person.

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