A while back, I talked about a short series discussing some of the reasons I decided to write a spitefic about a series I detest while keeping within the parameters set by that excuse-of-an-author to keep the spitefic canon. The spitefic is about as far from my usual writing style as can be, which has pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
I’m used to writing from an omniscient third-person point of view (POV). Since English class was long ago for many people, third-person is “she saw,” “he said,” basically an outside narrator for the story, and omniscient is when you chance who you’re following in the story.
I like getting to go from one place to another in my story. First-person keeps it limited to what that particular character can see. “I thought…” “I ran…” Etc. The Babysitters Club series is notorious among adult-fans of the series for very often having chapters hold through the first-person POV of the particular book’s narrator…when she wasn’t there. Ann M. Martin and her ghostwriters seem as if they wanted the perks of both styles. I’ve only seen this work once, in The Constant Princess, by the same author of The Other Boleyn Girl. Philippa Gregory established early on that she would alternate story-telling methods in each book of that franchise, which is why it worked.
What I like about third-person so much is it doesn’t feel so centered on one person, even when the story is about one particular person, and I like to see what’s happening in other places instead of just being told about it. Would you rather see a Nicolo Fonte world premier on stage (yeah, I just plugged my favorite ballet company), or be told about it later by someone who experienced it? Not into ballet? Substitute that with Tool, or Hootie and the Blowfish, or New Kids on the Block, if you must. Someone you want to see. Well, I want to see what other characters are doing, rather than have their relevant actions worked in in some awkward manner.
By writing through Jason Taylor’s POV, and using first person, I’ve eliminated the chance to easily work in details of the story (well, non-sex details, what few there are) that hold some relevance, no matter how slight. This forces me to decide which details are important enough to shoehorn in, which can be left out, and which can be worked in in more subtle ways later. Leaving out certain details could add some mystery, or could confuse things later.
I used to write more first person in the past. It’s much easier when you’re hyperfocused on one character, and really care very little about the other characters in other areas of the story. Ana Steele and Bella Swan were such the center of their writers’ universes that nothing else matters to the fans. Who cares how Christian Grey runs the company all by himself, without a board or anything else, when he’s rarely ever even at work. Who cares what Edward was up to in the handful of months when he and Bella weren’t together. If nothing else matters but one central character, then it’s definitely easier to write like this. If you find other characters and their lives to matter just as much to the story, then it’s limiting to use first person. I personally don’t like it, and don’t want to go with a writing style based on what’s the hardest. I prefer to go with the style that lets me see and show what I want to.
In forcing myself to conform to a style I don’t really like, I’m making myself nip and tuck the story, and by keeping it to someone else’s canon, I’ve narrowed the cattle chute even more. I still have to work in the regular story, but have limited the eyes I can show it through.
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Scott Jennings said:
I’m happy with either one. I haven’t read as many first-person view novels as third-person ones but if the story and the writing is excellent then I don’t care. Every author has their reasons for choosing to write in either narrative mode and I’m still looking forward to reading the Sacred series which I’ve read a bit of already.