In my last post, I said it was time to write my next book. Some of you may have noticed a post or two in the last few weeks indicating I’d already started that book. If you go back a few months, I talked about another book I’d started. Yeah, I’m having problems making a decision and sticking to it.
Last night, I opened one of the books and read the opening. I liked it, but something was off. I felt distanced. So, I closed the file and went to bed. Of course, I couldn’t fall asleep because I kept trying to figure out how to fix the problem. I finally drifted off considering a change in point of view.
Most of the time, I write in close third. That I recall, I’ve never written in second, but for certain pieces, I’ve used first person. This morning, I opened a copy of my new manuscript and started changing the POV to first. After a few paragraphs, I stopped to listen to the reader in my head and discovered she was proposing another change.
Without looking through dozens of files to tally them, I think I’m safe in saying I usually write in past tense, but my inner reader suggested present tense for this novel. I haven’t studied point of view and tense. I mean, I know the differences, but I’ve read only a little about how the various combinations affect the story—or rather the reading of the story.
Fortunately, I hadn’t written very far into the book, so I don’t have to change much. I’m enjoying the challenge, but will the changes work? I don’t know. The short opening scene will probably need to be moved further into the book. Maybe I’ll substitute a new one. I may have to break my vow and seek feedback from a writer friend or two at this early stage.
I hope you’ll share your wisdom on tense and point of view with me. I know I have writing books on the shelf that would help, but I also know if I open them, I’ll be distracted for days. So …
Discuss, please: Do you have a favorite POV or tense to write in? If so, why do you favor it? Have you ever forced yourself to try a new tense or viewpoint? Is there a certain type story you think works best in first person present tense? Is there a type you’d hate to read in that POV and tense?
27 thoughts on “Who’s telling your story … and when?”
I’m a big fan of first person POV. I usually write in it, and usually choose books written in it. It’s more personal. like a friend is sitting across from you telling you a really juicy story! 🙂
That’s a good way to describe it, savesprinkles. 🙂 So do you think it works best for certain types of stories?
Almost exclusively, I write in first person. To me, it provides the discipline to tell the story. There are occasions where I’ll switch to a third person in a long narrative passage. Whatever works is my motto.
Finding what works is the key, fivecats. 🙂
I do happen to like first person not only reading it, but writing it. It brings me closer to the character and I like feeling that connection to my characters. Sometimes we just have to listen to what our intuition is telling us.
I often play around with POV because, although I do like first person, it doesn’t always feel right for a particular story.
I agree, Laura. It certainly brings you closer to the character. For that reason, I would imagine some stories would be difficult to write in first.