Points of View and Encouragement – by Debbie Nance

“The reader, you see, has come to you as a storyteller seeking entertainment—and as I have pointed out in other posts, entertainment only occurs as you put the reader under stress in a safe manner and then negate the stress. So you create a protagonist, a character that acts as a surrogate for the reader, and you make that character likeable, someone that we admire, care about, and perhaps even envy a little. As we read a story, our subconscious mind is swept into the tale, and incidents that occur vividly in the tale affect our readers’ emotions. In effect, the reader “becomes” the protagonist on a subconscious level…” David Farland.

I like that quote and I think it is true. Readers relate to and can “become” the characters in the books they read. So what do you think is the best point of view for your writing? Do you change from book to book? Do you prefer reading books in one POV over another?

Rick Walton once told me that sometimes it is good to have a step of separation between the reader and the MC. I understood his point when the story you’re writing or reading is too close, too personal, for the reader to be comfortable. For instance, when something happens that the reader doesn’t want to feel as his/her own pain or embarrassment or fear.

First person POV is currently very popular in YA, but I read an article that says it rises and falls in popularity. 3rd person POV remains constant in popularity. Why do you think that is true?

Years ago when I began writing, I took a course that explained the difference between POVs and then said that 3rd person was the easiest and most natural way to write because it was like telling a story. However, when someone writes 3rd person POV really well the reader can forget that it isn’t written in 1st person.

Take a look at some of your favorite books. Are they in 1st or 3rd person POV? Are you surprised?

If you’ve hit a sticky spot in your ms, try writing that scene in a different point of view and see what you learn about your character.

Does it make a difference to take a step back and see what your MC is doing from an outside view or to take a step closer and see what the scene is like only from your MC point of view?

Which POV do you like better for your scene?

There is room for all kinds of books written in various POVs. Indeed, agent Stephen Fraser said (at a WIFYR conference) that there is a place for every book. I think he should know, and that encourages me.

I hope you’re coming to WIFYR this year. We all need encouragement and I hope to see you there!


Filed under Character, Point of View, Revision, writing process

2 responses to “Points of View and Encouragement – by Debbie Nance

  1. I’ve had an interesting experience with this. Awhile back I wrote my novel into 1st person and felt like it helped me connect with the characters more. But recently I’ve been writing it back into third person, because I have three characters, and I was struggling to with the three voices being unique enough in that POV. I think it is easier to connect with. It surprised me.

  2. rbirkin1

    This is great. I prefer first person, but I admire books where the writer manages to keep that close relationship between reader and protagonist in third person. And I remember reading a book written in a previous generation where the character states how much he dislikes any book that begins with “I.” So tastes do change.


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