Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ask the Authors: Wednesday

What’s your favorite POV? What do you find the most difficult to write in, and what do you find the easiest POV to work with?

The most difficult POV for me is third person because that makes me one step removed from my characters. I love to write in first person because that’s “up close and personal;” I’m writing as though I am the character. I also love to read first person novels. Unfortunately, though, I’ve heard this isn’t true for the majority of readers out there, who prefer third person! (Which I also read and write.) --Ann Tatlock

Definitely third person multiple is my favorite POV and the one I find easiest to work with. It's also my favorite choice to read in. Although I also enjoy reading in first-person, I don't like writing in it. It's too restrictive. --BJ Hoff

I like 'em all! Seriously, each serves a purpose and some stories are better served by one POV than by another. Completely depends upon the personality of the protagonist and what you, the author, are trying to accomplish. For instance, in THE NOTE I needed my protagonist to have secrets--couldn't have used first person fairly, because then the reader should have had access to all her memories. In THE PEARL, I needed my protagonist to make a really wild decision--so I needed my reader to have access to her reasoning, so the wacky decision seemed rational. It all depends upon your story. --Angela Hunt

I don't really have a favorite POV. What makes one easier to work with depends upon if it is the write voice for the story. What I write is whatever the story demands.

Out of 55 books, 53 were written in third person, past tense, with multiple character POVs. One was written in first person, past tense, with one primary POV and smaller vignettes in the POVs of secondary characters. My 55th book, which I'm writing now, is in first person, past tense, with only one character's POV.

The two books that I've written in first person were because the story refused to be told in third person. And another book that I tried to write in first person refused to be told that way; I had to go with third. -- Robin Lee Hatcher

I love writing in the first person, though I've seldom done it. Third person is very simple for me, after doing it for almost twenty-three years, but when I'm writing first person, it's much easier to dig more deeply into my character, to see through their eyes, and to feel their pain and relate it to the reader. --Hannah Alexander

I love first person POV, because it's the most intimate and you can
really get into a character. It was what I chose for Breach of
Promise, which became one of my most popular novels, partly based on
the POV, I believe. There's a danger with first person, though, the
tendency to "run off at the mouth." Not everything a character says is
worth recording. You have to walk a delicate line. And the voice needs
to be distinctive enough, in and of itself, to sustain interest for a
whole novel. -- James Scott Bell

I almost always write in third person, multiple POVs (one POV per scene, of course). I think I’d find first person present very difficult and awkward to write. Third person feels most natural for me. For some reason I particularly enjoy writing a third person male POV. –Deborah Raney

Without a doubt, my favorite is 3rd person multiple POV. I love to change POVs, and it works great in comedy. I find 1st person very difficult, mostly because I can't switch POV, so I find myself having a hard time moving the plot along. I had to learn that I don't need to be in my character's head every second, even if it's the only head I'm in. I think the easiest in 3rd person, single POV--one POV per scene. -- Rene Gutteridge

I love first person pov or close third. All of the POV’s are something I have to work through. For me, deciding what is best for that particular story is trial and error. I wrote my current WIP in first person on the first draft, then switched to close third. I hated it and it ripped the heart right out of the story so it’s rightfully restored to 1st person. I wrote my first few books in omniscient voice back when that was still popular in the CBA. I’m happier with the challenges of 1st and 3rd because of the higher literary quality of those voices. --Patty Hickman

I've written in first person for my nonfiction books and third person for my fiction. Both have their advantages/disadvantages. I'm toying with first person for my next series of historical novels, simply because of the intimacy and sympathy that view quickly builds. But I'm afraid of losing the page-turning suspense one can create when the reader knows something the protagonist does not because she's traveled elsewhere in a different character's POV. I'll probably try one POV for a couple of chapters and see how it feels! --Liz Curtis Higgs


At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Authors,

I have a related question for you all.

Have any of you written both first and third POV in the same novel?

I've read books like this, where the main protagonist's scenes are written in first person, and all the other POVs are in close third. I like it.

My current WIP is written in both first and third POV. I didn't plan it this way. I simply couldn't capture the voice of my female MC to my satisfaction until I began writing her in first person.

I haven't decided if I'll leave it this way (I want to!), but for now it's getting the book written.


At 9:58 AM, Blogger Deborah Raney said...

Lori, I'm going to answer for Angie Hunt because she won't "brag" on herself, but her novel, THE PEARL, is written that way - both first and third POVs - and I found it extremely effective. Maybe she can tell you if there were any drawbacks to it, but from a reader's standpoint, I sure didn't see any.

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm glad to know a book combining first and third has been published in CBA. I'm fairly certain all the books I've read with this POV combo are ABA books. I'll check out Angie's THE PEARL. Thank you!

Something about the texture of combining 1st and 3rd appeals to me, reading and writing.


At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Cavanaugh says--

Lori, my next release -- Kingdom Wars: A Hideous Beauty, Aug 2007 -- is written with a mix of First and Third person POV, and I'm currently working on its sequel. The mix eases the restrictions of first person POV only and, in my opinion, heightens the intimacy a reader develops with the protagonist.

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm encouraged to hear this--and congratulations on your forthcoming release. *s* I'll look for yours, too, come August.

Speaking of easing restrictions. I'd never written in first person, before this particular character refused to speak to me clearly in any other way. I finally caved and told her, "Fine. I'll let you speak in first person even though the rest of the book is in third." And hoped it would prove workable. *s*


At 8:48 AM, Blogger Angela said...

I'm late to the table, but I've mixed first/third in several books, including the series I'm writing now. The key for me is to have a real purpose in using this technique, not just to do it because it's fun or trendy or because you can't write it any other way.

There has to be a distinct advantage to being in one character's soul and keeping everyone else at a distance. If so, go for it!

P.S. Thanks, Deb, for your kind words!


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