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A New Fantastic Point Of View?

December 29, 2009

Now that I’ve decided to ditch my initial opening and begin my book at a different spot in the story entirely, I’ve been thinking a lot about point of view. Until realizing that I’d been mentally starting this book in the wrong place all along–even before writing a single word–I took it for granted that I’d be writing in third person limited. It was simply how the novel had always presented itself to me in my head. But since I’m overhauling the timeline, I figured, why not do a reassessment of other writerly choices, too?

I was further motivated to reevaluate point of view when I realized that many of the female-centered, adult adventure/fantasy books I’ve either personally enjoyed or heard about are written in first person. (Kim Harrison‘s The Hollows series and Laurell K. Hamilton‘s Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series, to name a few.) Since, roughly, that’s the genre in which my book fits, I’ve been toying with the idea of having my heroine do the narrating as so many other heroines have done before her.

But, on the other hand, there are the dear old Harry Potter books–which, while perhaps not bastions of miraculous writing technique, are some of the most well-plotted, engaging stories I’ve ever read, filled to the brim with memorable characters and heart-stopping plot twists. The series has for a long time now been one of my primary writing inspirations; I don’t want to win a Pulitzer but to craft stories and characters that readers fall in love with. And the Harry Potter books are, of course, written in third person. So, it seems, are most published novels–particularly genre novels, as author N. K. Jemisin notes in a very interesting post about point of view. (She, on the other other hand, makes a very convincing case for the use of first person!)

It’s a bit of a muddle. I’m still leaning towards third person, because I have ideas for my backstory that wouldn’t lend themselves to clever reveals if no one but my darling Garrity Sinclair was allowed to talk. I am terribly fond of her, and don’t doubt that she’d be great fun to listen to, but I’m still fairly certain that overall my book would benefit from a somewhat broader scope. I think tomorrow I’ll try writing some snippets from both perspectives, to make sure I’m not over-hastily leaping to a conclusion. And then hopefully I, Garrity, and all the rest of my ragtag fictional crew will be off on our journey once more!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2009 2:52 am

    First person is really fun to write as you get right inside the characters head but really limiting and frustrating because you can only reveal what that one character knows or experiences. I like writing in first person and the current project I’m working on is in first person but I’m defintely not in favour of leaping right into another extended project using it.
    Whatever you decide, I wish you luck with your writing.


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