Friday, February 13, 2009

Thoughts on POV / Progress

The House Eaters is nearing the end of part 1 (I envision three parts, each culminating with a supernatural event). One thing I enjoy about drafting a longer work is that characterization can take time, it can be more subtle. I also enjoy how those characters take on their own lives and start acting on their own.

I had no idea that the protagonist's sister exhibited psi until it happened, opening a whole series of plot events and back story. She has a psychic connection to her brother, an echo of something that took place years before the current tale, and it will factor in the climax of the novel. That was a nice discovery.

The book is just under 16K now, so the final draft will probably hover between 40-50 (a decent amount for typical YA). So far, so good.

Last night, I had a POV quandary that nearly shut me down. I've been writing the story in first person. (Surveying the books my students are reading, I'd say POV is about 50/50 in the YA area--I haven't done any real research.)

My quandary wasn't a real problem, per se, just a fear that first person wasn't right (i.e., it wouldn't sell). When I write short fiction, I stick to third person pretty religiously (80/20). I think third person works best with horror fiction, especially short fiction. This book isn't a strict horror tale, but more dark YA fantasy.

Any thoughts?


Catherine J Gardner said...

First off congrats on the progress.

I know some people don't like first person stories but they're all insane - I love them.

Aaron Polson said...

I just had a talk with our school librarian (she reads about a book a day, mostly YA). She said about half sounded right. First person has become more popular of late, I guess.

Bobbie Metevier said...

In my opinion the story dictates the pov. I have also heard that first person is a hard sell, but I assume that well-read editors feel otherwise--the choices in my local book store tell me as much, anyway.

Good luck with the novel and keep writing!

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks Bobbie, I plan to keep at it. I can always reinvent the story down the road, basically rewriting if need be.

A first draft is a first draft, right?

Robert said...

The school of thought on POVs is always mixed -- some people say the first person can be a crutch, while others say the third person can be a crutch. As in, doing one POV can show a writer's laziness.

I actually like all three kinds -- I've even written a novel in the second person, which I knew would be a hard sell and which actually came close at one major house.

What I've never liked for some reason is mixing POVs -- as in first person and third person. This happens a lot in mysteries and thrillers, and until very recently I couldn't stand it. The exception was done in first person present tense, and third person past tense. I don't know why, but I actually enjoyed that mixture.

So to answer your question ... I don't know. You have to do what feels right and natural to you. Because if you don't, it will come across to your readers.

Oh, just thought of something -- I've seen multiple POVs all use the first person, and that seems to work too. Don't know how it would work in your book, of course, but just wanted to throw that out there.

Natalie L. Sin said...

If you're having a good time writing in first person, I say stick with it. One of my favorite books (The Conqueror Worms) was first person : )

K.C. Shaw said...

I love first person. I love really getting into the head of the POV character.

I don't think it's a hard sell, although some genres/subgenres seem to embrace it more than others. I don't think I've read a single urban fantasy that wasn't written in first, for instance.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I wrote a YA in third person with an emphasis on one character and then re-wrote it in first person from a different characters point of view. I am still up in the air as to which one I liked better but I am leaning toward the 1st person version.

the 1st person is more personal. You can feel as if you are there, either looking through the characters eyes or liek they are telling you teh story at the table.

The main reason I am using the third in the piece I am on now is so I can show more detail that I feel would be heavyhanded in 1st.

Good luck with the story. I can't wait to see in in the local book store for my kids (and my) reading pleasure.

katey said...

First person is only crap when people don't know how to act. Seeing as your characters are already doing things you didn't expect, I can't imagine it's a problem for you!

For my part, I actually get more excited about reading things done in first person. This story just sounds more and more interesting.

Aaron Polson said...

Katey - I think the voice is always better in 1st person. Catcher in the Rye--that book was loaded with voice.

katey said...


Huck Finn started my love affair with it, back in the day.