Thursday, 27 September 2012

A preferable point of view

I keep thinking about my Novel-Previously-Known-As-Silver.  I’ve decided that it needs a lot of work and have spent the last four or five months thinking about how to do this.
At first I was considering simply rearranging the plot a little, and changing the structure of the novel.  Copy that piece, paste it and then make sure it runs seamlessly.  I’ve since come to the decision that it needs a lot more work than that.

I began to think about the characters and my future plans for them.  With the change of structure planned, I wondered if my all of my characters are well developed and not just the main character.

The novel follows Emily through her work and tribulations as a werewolf hunter and is written in the first person from Emily’s point of view.  I originally wanted to write her in the first person because I wanted a real connection between her and the reader.  I wanted the reader to be in her head.

Just to clarify, first person is from the character's point of veiw (I said) and third person is from the storytellers point of view (he said, she said, Gordie said, Eve said, they said).

While visiting writing forums I have gained the distinct impression that the first person in novels is heavily frowned upon.  The first person cannot be done well in a novel length piece of fiction until the character is perfect and the voice is pure rather than that of the writers.  It means that restrictions are put on the story teller, who cannot give any other pov, and therefore the plot becomes restricted.


Before I came across the forum posts about this subject (which all seem very divided), I was already mulling over rewriting the novel in the third person simply because it would make my future ideas easier and possibly better.  It seems that most first novels are written in the first person which would explain why some people might look down on it.  However, I am stubborn.  These forum people say it can’t be done and I immediately think, rubbish!  Of course it can!  And I then set about trying to find a good novel written in the first person.

There are lots!  How about Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier?  Or Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters?  Or Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh.
Actually two of my favourite books are written in the first person.  I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan and The Body by Stephen King.  I, Lucifer, as the title suggests, is written in the first person from Lucifer’s pov and this works really well, it allows the reader into the mind of a character who should be pure evil but is actually full of doubt.  It makes him likeable.
On the other hand, The Body is written in the first person from Gordie Lachance’s point of view but is actually a story about his best friend, Chris Chambers.  

So what about bestselling fantasy books?  A few are written in first person, including the bestsellers Twilight and The Hunger Games.  
So the first person point of view can’t be all bad, can it?  Apparently the general public are happy to part with their cash for it.

The novel I'm currently editing has also raised this issue. This novel is written in the third person and while originally there was supposed to be one main character, I’ve somehow ended up with four.  Well, you know how it is, you add a character, fall madly in love with them and have to have more of them!
After reading Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin and working my way lovingly through Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes, I have begun to rethink the structure of this novel too.  I rather like the idea of each chapter being solely from one character’s point of view but I also wonder if I’m a little biased after reading two novels that follow this system.
Naturally this thinking does then filter through to Previously-Known-As-Silver, although I’m eager to keep the two projects separate.

Throughout all of this brain splurge, it must be remembered that all writing is subjective and to ultimately write whatever makes you happy, safely in the knowledge that there are enough people on this planet that at least one other person will love it too.  Experimentation is one of the fun aspects of writing!

But just because I’m curious, what is your preference between first and third person narrative?   

I’ve put a poll in the top right, have a click and let me know, or comment below or let me know on Facebook/Twitter.

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