Hey everyone! In this Writerly Post Wednesday, I talk about which point of view you should be writing in — and why. At the end of the day, you should be writing in whatever suits your writing style, and whatever you prefer. Here’s a brief run-down of the point of views.
First Person Point of View — In fiction, I’ve found that this is a common point of view that is often used in young adult fiction. (“I”, “My”, “Us”, “We”.) This means that you are reading the story through that character’s eyes; you know only what they know, and you discover things as they discover things. Often, the first personal point of view contains an unreliable narrator. Sometimes there are more than one narrators in the first persona point of view — but I am personally not a fan of this. I prefer that when a novel switches narrators, it is better in third person. (Of course, there are exceptions of this, and that is just my personal preference. I wouldn’t not read a book just because it switches narrators in first person.)
Example of first person (from my novel City of Illusions):
Father said madness is like a disease. It starts as an idea, and then blossoms into something darker — something more attachable, clinging to the side of your veins until it reaches your heart. And then, as Father would say, it takes complete control of you.
I wondered whether dyeing my hair a deep lavender purple qualified as madness. Father would have thought so, and he’d have raised a dark eyebrow at me—said nothing, but in that silence I knew what he’d mean to say. You’re being ridiculous, Arabella. Now you look like one of them. But looking like one of them was my aim tonight.
I curled the tips of my hair, before, unsatisfied, straightened it. Then I braided it. And then pulled the bands out so that it lay over my shoulders in a heap. Finally, I settled on twining the purple hair into a bun, leaving a few strands out and curling them, before applying so much makeup that I didn’t even look like myself anymore.
Painted red lips; blushed cheeks; shadowing under my eyes in purple; lengthening my eyelashes with some mascara; and hoping to god all this stuff would actually come out once the night was done. It was simple, really: all I had to do was slit Alina Steele’s throat. That was presuming she didn’t murder me first.
I checked my reflection one more time, and finally satisfied with my appearance, headed down the steps. Before I left my room, though, I’d tucked my blade inside the high-heeled boot I wore. They weren’t the best for running I knew, but they offered easy concealment.
Second Person Point of View — This is a point of view that is not often explored in fiction. I wish it was, because it has so much potential. (“You”.) Yes, writing an entire novel in second person can be difficult (to read or write) but it can also be very effective in same cases. I, personally, really like the second person point of view, though it’s definitely not for everyone. (If you’re wondering, examples of second person novel include Stolen, Lucy Christopher; All the Truth That’s in Me; Julie Berry.)
Example (from my novel The Sweetest Sorrows of Ava Hale):
My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Every time I see her, she asks whether I’ve started, and every session I say: No, I haven’t; it’s a stupid idea.
But alas, here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. I tried the argument of saying it’s morbid, but that ran dry when she said it could be therapeutic. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper.
I pondered over where I should start the letter. Where, after all, did our story begin? From the moment you were born…or died? I chose the latter, thinking that at least the letter would be done quicker that way. So here goes nothing, Kesley, because it begins, and ends, with you.
The first thing I did every day, after fixing a pale pink bow in my hair, dressing, and consuming my mandatory cup of coffee, was stare at your photo. Stupid, don’t you think? But I sat at the side of the road with a framed image of your face, waiting, waiting, waiting. For what? Well, that was beyond me. Maybe I hoped you’d leap out and become real again, or maybe I just read too many fantasy novels. Either way, I’d stare at your photo.
Starting this letter is one of the hardest things I’ve done, Kesley. I read somewhere that beginnings are always the hardest to write — there are so many places I could start, yet I chose this place. I think I started it here because today is the day that Rafe Lawrence came back to Circling Pines. Remember him, Kesley?
Third Person Point of View — This is definitely one of my favourite point of views.
Okay so I love them all, whatever, they’re all amazing. You can switch point of views easily without (possibly) confusing the reader, and the writing is a lot less restricted — because as with first person, the writer is often restricted to one (or possible more) point of views, allowing the writer to explore many characters. This is a point of view which is often, but not all the time) used in high fantasy. I love this point of view because of the freedom it gives the writer; and also, it’s a PoV I love to read in. (Example of novels that used third person: Harry Potter, A Game of Thrones.)
Example (from my novel Of Iron and Thorns):
Arden Iskador held the sharpest edge of her knife to her opponent’s throat. He was pressed up against the wall of the training room, face contorted, hair smattered with blood and dirt. She pressed the blade farther against his throat, allowing a small drop of blood to slide down his neck. A smile curved her mouth, full of triumph, as the sound of slow clapping sounded from behind her. She released her opponent, Saar Thenryn, and a disgruntled expression flitted across his face. He pulled away from her and slunk back into the shadows, barely able to contain his envy. Arden knew he envied her abilities, and she was half-tempted to remind him, once more, she had been training for this since she could walk and talk, just to goad him, but decided against it. Apparently arrogance was an unattractive quality in a woman, despite her elven blood. When Palan had told her this, she’d replied by saying that it was in her blood, which had caused a frown to appear on his weathered face.
“Arrogance leads to foolishness, foolishness leads to death,” he would say.
Arden turned around as the slow, exaggerated clapping came to a halt. She turned to find Valor, her instructor, leaning against the opposite wall, encroached with vines that twisted together to form the wall. He peeled himself off the wall and came to stand beside her. “Well, well,” he said, a sly grin upturning his mouth. “Seventeen today and already tearing through the ranks.”
If anything, Valor Knot boosted Arden’s ego more than anyone else in the Order. Not that she minded, of course; in fact, she had taken quite a liking to her instructor. She sheathed the dagger at her waist, a smirk pulling up the corners of her lips.
“Something like that,” she said.
That’s all for today! Tell me, what are your favourite PoVs and why? Let me know in the comments below.