They’re inside your MIND
g asked me a very good question about POV, and my comment reply was insanely long, so it’s been broken into a post.
For whatever reason I HATE to write in third person. First person feels much more personal and real to me. I tend to believe and feel it more in first. But then why is third so popular among agents? I’ve had several agents suggest that my work in first person is too limited? I don’t agree I think a fairy doing all the talking for once is refreshing and new. I love fairies but all the stories I read are either about how fairies live or some human who happened to meet a fairy and is recalling. What do you think?
I think that both have equal merit and that some stories could only be told in first and some only in third. An individual author may have strengths in one or the other, but a nimble one will be able to do at least journeyman work in both. My finished novel could not have been written in third person–it was a noir detective story and required an immersed, personal narrator inside who’s head we could reside. BLACK ARTS cannot be written in first, at least without becoming a very different book. It deals with two protagonists who have equal page time and switches limited third view between the two. Plus, both are unreliable narrators in certain areas, so for the sake of the story being told the head-hop aids the narrative.
Some people, not just agents, have a bias that first-person is easier to write and therefore requires less skill. They’re right in the sense that first person is easier to write, at the basic level–no worry of show vs. tell, no need to artfully find a way to describe what a character is thinking, no worry about integrating phsyical descriptions into the text…if we can read a character’s thoughts we just follow their stream-of-consciousness chatter. They’re wrong that it’s easy to write, as a point of view. First person is exponentially harder to do well because of all the shortcuts I just listed. In a story where you can read someone’s mind, avoiding the text becoming one massive tell is hugely hard. The first draft of NIGHT LIFE involved many pages of block paragraphs of exposition, Luna’s thoughts, tell tell tell. It was bad. Writing artful prose with a first person pov is not easy. Third limited has many more rules and if you can’t follow them it’s apparent immediately, and your prose sucks. It’s even more obvious with third omniscient.
Don’t worry about this…I don’t. The story will speak up about how it wants to be told–wisecracking first versus lush third, head-hopping omniscient versus super-mind-reading-author-powers close. Let the story talk, and usually you won’t be steered wrong.