POV: To I or Not to I

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with my manuscript is point of view (POV). Originally, I started with multiple points of view. Then I encountered head hopping, where I would jump amongst perspectives in one scene. It was BAD. So I revised to limited multiple POV with 5 main characters. Still disjointed.

I moved to 2 main character POV. Then I realized the characters didn’t feel real enough. So I switched to first person. And that’s when my characters became life-like. I had to remember everything told from the “I” point of view was necessarily skewed by the character’s perspective. If she said someone was mean, it didn’t make it true. Ah nuances. Fun. Then came the hard part: revealing characters other sides without the protagonist necessarily changing her opinion even if the reader might.

I’ve heard that third person POV is the most popular now, but for me, I love first person. I love immersing myself in that character even when she interprets things wrong. I love the challenge of bringing other characters to life by their actions and interactions with the protagonist.

I thank my lucky stars that  I experimented with POV in the same story, it was an invaluable learning experience, forcing me to retell the story. It restructured my novel. At first, I worried I’d lose the flavor of each character, but I think when done carefully  first person POV still gives you a cast of living breathing supporting characters.

What do you think? Do you write in third person or first person? Do you have multiple points of view, only one, or a limited number? What works best for you and why?

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4 Responses to POV: To I or Not to I

  1. I find it depends on the subject. If there is enough of me in the character I will unconciously start writing in the first person. If I am telling a story that that I have seen (normally stuff about my kids etc.) or that doesn’t normally happen to me in everyday life, I will write in third person because I assuming a different character. Which do I prefer? Probably third person because I find it easier to tell a story than be a story.

    • I like the way you put that–finding it easier to tell a story than be a story. For me, I have to be in the story to really get my characters. I tried writing third person and I felt disconnected from them. But I think you’re right about it depending on the subject.

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