Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Person for the First - Third for the Second?

For me, first person point of view comes naturally; it feels like the "right way" to write.  But is it?  Or rather, is it always the right way?
It clearly has its advantages.

-I know what is inside my protagonists head, what he feels, thinks, dreams.  Thus, it is "easier" to write my story.
-For my (future) readers, there will be an immediacy between the protagonist and the reader, a level of comfort and understanding.

The list of disadvantages (at least in theory) is much longer.

-Subplots are often out of the question.
-There is a constant danger that the protagonist, in particular in the early drafts, will sound like me and not like the character I am developing.
-All characterization of the protagonist is derived from him, which could limit character descriptions and, thus, the readers' understanding of his personality and traits.
-The protagonist is in every scene, potentially boring the reader.

I had no choice but to use first person point of view for In The Shadow of Honey Locusts - it could not have been done any other way.  I did not even try third person; it is a story only my protagonist knows and no one else can tell.  The subplots are minor and the protagonist's struggles and feelings are the heart of the story.

With my first novel almost ready to be sent out to agents, my second is brewing in my mind and heart and I don't know whether I want to stick with first person or try third.  Well, to be honest, I know I want to use first person again - but I wonder if I should perhaps try third person this time?

What do you think?  What POV do you like to read and why?
To make it more interesting, I will write the first paragraph of my second novel in both first and third and will post it here.  Maybe that will help the decision-making process!


  1. I'm glad to see you're moving along with your project. Is the novel you're referring to the one I started to read?

  2. Hi Christine,
    Yes, that is my first (and I am still tinkering with it.... even though the synopsis and query letter are done!) The second one is brewing, but I have written nothing yet. I will write the first paragraph soon, two versions (one first person PoV and one third) and will post it here to see what everyone thinks! How is your project?

  3. I'm doing the exact same thing. My first book needed to be 1st person...not only because it felt right, but there were secrets for the reader to discover along with the MC. But for the second in the series, there's no way 1st person will work. I can only use 3rd person to expand on the stories and subplots of other characters and situations where my MC won't be involved.
    So I would say that yes, it's ok to switch POV from book to book within a series...and sometimes it's necessary. ;o)