Monday, 2 April 2012

How I Write - Point of View

Hello everyone :D How are we all doing? Just before I begin today's lesson (teehee) a quick reminder - if you haven't seen it already, I posted Feral 5 up on Thursday! Comments would be greatly appreciated :)

A very, very brief introduction
Ok, to begin, I want everyone to pick up a book and open it at the first page. Read it and tell me - does the narrator use 'I' or 'he/she'? That is point of view, or POV for short. 'I' is first person and 'he/she' is third person and that's all you need to know...pretty much....
One of the more confusing things in writing is choosing a POV. Both have their pros and cons and both work for different people. I for one tend to swap between them, depending on my mood, or how it'll affect my story.

First Person
Ah, first person. it used to be that no books were written in first person, and if they were, not many people bought them. And then Stephanie Meyer wrote Twilight in first person and BAM! first person went back into fashion. Open a Y.A book and 8 times out of ten it will be written in first person. But what makes it so great?

Well, first off, first person POV brings the reader closer into the story. If you are telling a story from the narrators eyes, everything is going to be big and personal, all the action seems will seem more realistic and the description will come alive. Everything the narrator feels, the reader feels too.

Secondly, first person POV means you see inside a characters head. You know what the narrator is thinking all the time. If Sophia sees her boyfriend with someone else you know how she feels - you can feel her anger, her betrayal. This is harder to get in third person.

However, first person has it's drawbacks. You end up constantly beginning a sentence with 'I' which can be annoying. You have no idea what's going on other than what the narrator sees and you can't see other's people's thoughts or emotions. And unless the narrator had a unique 'voice' (the way they speak eg do they talk in dialect? Do they think in an accent? Are they a child, and use simplistic language. Yeah, stuff like that.) it can get boring quickly.

Third Person
Third person had always been the starting point for many writers, especially novelists. With third person POV you don;t have to come up with a unique voice, you can see everything (although it depends on what third person you choose - more on that in a moment) Yup. It's great and many writers use it when they need to get information across that the narrator won't see/doesn't know.

Before I continue with how good/bad third person is, let me elaborate on the brackets. There are actually a few types of third person POV. Confusing I know, but listen. The first type is the one I'm using to write Wolfbane. It goes like this. Instead of seeing everything, you see only one person's thought and feelings. It's like first person except more removed. Here's an example (extract from my book!!)

The General strode out of the plane onto the hot tarmac beneath. He lifted his kit bag higher on his shoulders and turned to wait for Xavier. The stupid boy had been sick on the journey - he was obviously weaker than The General had once hoped. No matter. He could be re-trained.

Now, I could re-write this in first person.

I strode out of the plane onto the hot tarmac beneath. I lifted my kit bag higher and waited for Xavier. The stupid boy had been sick on the journey - he was obviously weaker than I had once hoped. No matter. He could be re-trained.

See, piece of cake! I like this POV because it means you can see into someone's head without having 'I' all the time.

The second type of third person is one that you can see everything and hear everything - this is called and OMNISCIENT narrator. You know what everyone is thinking and doing. You are a God. The drawback to this is that it can sometimes confuse the reader if you don;t put it across clearly enough. Unfortunately I don't have an example to show you...

Second Person
Ok, so there's one POV that I haven't covered, mainly because no one uses it, it's jerky and awkward and everyone hates it. Second person. When instead of 'I' or 'he/she' you use 'you.'

You sit at the table and stir your soup. A waiter comes up to you and asks what you want to eat. You ask for the pasta and the waiter leaves your table.

I've written a story in second person, and I quite like it. Click here if you haven't read it. However, if you want to write a novel or even a short story over about 3 pages, you shouldn't use second person. You read the sentences above. It's like pulling teeth! You can;t see what everyone else is thinking, and unless you tell the reader to feel something, you can't express thoughts or emotions either. Useless. Utterly useless.

And that's all you need to know about POV. Choosing one can be difficult, but most of the time, it just pops into place. And if you write something and don't like it, change the POV. It can open up a whole new dimension to your story and help you move it along. Good luck!

1 comment:

Rose said...

my favourite bit is the second person section: "Useless. Utterly Useless." oh, the tears of laughter rolled down my cheeks :'D