Monday, April 5, 2010

1st Person POV

POV is a tricky little thing.

Growing up I always thought that 3rd person POV was the only normal way to write.  Anything else was too stylistic and glaringly obvious.  Nearly everything I read was in 3rd person, so that's what felt right to me.  All else was wrong.

Somewhere along the way I've changed my mind.  I suppose I've just read enough 1st person books now to see it as a very natural style.  (2nd is still a whole other creature.  I might be willing to poke at it with a stick, but no way am I ready to pick it up and examine it with my bare hands.)  Perhaps it is a false perception, but it seems to me that 1st person is far more widely used now, particularly in young adult fiction.

I know I've read a lot of it lately.  I would guess that of the YA books I've read this past year, the majority that have a single POV character are written in 1st person.  Whereas I used to find that POV so jarring, now I don't even notice until half way through the book unless I'm intentionally looking for the POV.

All the same, it wasn't until very recently that I was willing to attempt writing in 1st person myself.  I've built a comfortable home out of 3rd person bricks, and I know what I'm doing in there.  I've worked on 3rd person for (what feels like) so long with True Sight and Swift Flight (Kierr and Deisa's first two books) that it's very strange for me to make a change to a new story at all, not even counting the POV change.

I didn't originally plan to write Annie (my most recent character) in 1st person.  I wrote a few practice scenes several months ago just to start getting a feel for her world, and they were all in 3rd.  But recently, right before I started writing the first chapter, I felt that little click in my mind that happens when something that should have been obvious all along finally falls into place.  Annie belongs in a 1st person world.

So far it's been quite an adventure for me trying to write her that way.  It feels very right, but it's also a big challenge.  The POV is forcing me to examine her personality a lot more closely.  Some of her traits are different enough from my own that I have to be very intentional about the way she thinks.  It's mental exercise for sure.  I come away with my cerebrum panting from the effort.

But the experience has been very rewarding too.  I know Annie so much better than I've known any other character after such a short time.  When I force myself to look through her eyes, somehow I see more of the world she lives in.  She brings me closer to the details and makes me think more about her surroundings.  It's a bit of a rush.

I guess that makes me a 1st person convert after all.

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