that's me - Stephanie Boman!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bird's Eye

I'm a POV flip/flopper. When I'm starting a project (and often when I'm well into it, and at least once after I finished one) I have this little battle in my head about what POV to use. I go back and forth on the pros and cons of first and third. Which would make my story stronger, lend to the voice I'm trying to create, and, of course, have the perspective I want the audience to hear the story being told from?

Disclaimer: I have never actually written a whole story in third. I have tried, but I always end up going back to first person.

My reason is the same as most writers - I want the immediacy and intimacy that first person POV allows. But I have to admit that I have third person-phobia. The pros to telling a story in third are many, including a wider perspective - being able to explore things from more than what the MC would perceive, and I like that. But third also creates distance - you are no longer in the MCs head the way you are when the MC is telling the story herself. I am scared of this distance. I love third person when I read it, but to me I feel you have to have incredible talent to tell a story with that distance and still make it riveting and immediate. At least it's something I find hard to do.

I have gone back and forth on what POV Ada, my historical fiction, should be told from. Third lends itself well to historical fiction (although there is something fresh about using first person in historical fiction - since the time period is already a distancing factor, it can be helpful to tell the story in first to get the reader there quickly). I started the story over this way, convinced it was the change that my story needed, committed to rewriting the whole thing that way. A few pages in I found I had slipped back into first unconsciously. I don't know if it's habit, or because the story is just naturally supposed to be told that way.

I'm back to arguing with myself about which is changes every hour. Perhaps I should write a chapter in both and submit it for critiquing.

So tell me, what's your preferred POV, or does it change depending on what you are working on? What are the challenges you find with each? How do you decide which is right for a particular project? Does anyone struggle the way I do?


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