Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about point of view (POV). I just finished a book called Where’d You Go Bernadette. This book has been getting a lot of play lately and there are reasons why. 

First of all it’s fun.

Second of all, it’s about a mother/daughter relationship.

And third of all, it’s told in the first person but also has emails, letters, official documents, etc.

Who doesn’t love to get into someone else’s business? Who doesn’t love to eavesdrop? This book uses these multiple genres to tell a rounder story than one that could be told if the entire book was written in first person only. 

I have always been a fan of these types of stories. In fact, I wrote my thesis on Up the Down Staircase which was a groundbreaking multi-genre book. It told the story of a first year inner city teacher in a way that other narrative styles couldn’t.

This has made me think about the choices we make with POV and how that affects the story–how it affects the voice, how it affects the pacing, etc. I recently also read a book that i loved which had many many many POVs. It broke the rules over and over again but the voice was so strong, I didn’t care. In fact, there was one point where a bear got to take over the POV. Normally i HATE talking animals. HATE them. Stay away Homeward Bound! But in this book, the writing was so strong, it worked. And the story was so multi-faceted, it was inspiring to me as a writer. 

That’s not to say I’m going to veer away from first person right away. First person is the most intimate you can get with a character and it’s what I love. However, I am itching to see what happens when I step out of my comfort zone and play.

Maybe we can focus on POV this month. Look at the various types and the drawbacks and benefits to each. Story telling is such a creative process. We get to be the grand creators with so many tools at our fingertips. I think it does us well to try new things and see what happens.

What POV do you prefer? And why? 



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4 responses to “POV

  1. I like first person for the reasons you gave, though I’d love to attempt a second person some day.

  2. I use first and third person, but not sure I have a preference. There are pros and cons for both. First has that intimacy you mentioned, but limits the thoughts to those of the MC – unless you let bears and other characters have their say.

  3. benschwensch

    Oh, AnnDee – how I’d LOVE to read your thesis! When that first came out, I was busy kicking myself around the block! Why hadn’t I, me, myself . . . I written that book? Having taught high school for about 5 years at that point, EVERYTHING in that book had already happened to me (including having a student I knew well who committed suicide). I was SO jealous that someone else thought of the idea before I did, though I didn’t want to relive that loss of a student again, even for literature’s sake! Is your thesis available? BYU? or where???

  4. Oddstuffs

    I tend to write in third-person restricted with multiple viewpoints, but one of the novels I’m working on right now has a super strong first person voice. It’s a great and thereputic experience. Very visceral. I’ll have to play with POV more as well.


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