So what’s the point (of view)?

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Writing
Tags: , , , ,

I love fads. They are the most human thing to ever experience. People suddenly turn into herd animals and abandon all common sense to follow the same fashion trend or food fad or television show. I love having a student tell me that they don’t even know what a fad is and then walk away wearing the current fashion trend and using the current trendy language. And fads happen everywhere. I have watched them happen in popular literature a lot. Plenty of people like to point out and complain about the trends dealing with subjects for books. I have noticed a different trend. It is a trend of point-of-view.

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I’m sure that most of you remember from your grammar classes the different points-of-view. Well, up until recently most books and stories were written from a third person point-of-view. All that you ever saw were the words he, she, they, etc. However, once an author or two wrote best sellers from first person point-of-view, the new fad began. Now there are first person books everywhere. Does it really matter?

I honestly do believe that point-of-view matters. It truly impacts the reader’s interaction with the characters and the stories. So which one is better? Who am I to answer that? I think it depends on the story, the characters, and the writer’s ability to connect with their audience. Third person opens up a huge world of possibilities. You are telling your story from a god’s-eye view. Everything that happens at any place or any time can be detailed for the reader. You can choose that you share and what you hide. You can give excellent, detailed descriptions of people, objects, places, and anything else that you feel is relevant to the story. However, it doesn’t give readers that up-close, intimate relationship with a character. It has also been done to death!

First person gives reader’s almost unfettered access to a character’s world. They see whatever the character sees. There can be a virtual-reality feel to it if you have truly engaged your reader. It harkens back to travelling bards telling their tales to an audience about their own journeys. Unfortunately, first person means that you have to limit your story to things that the narrating character sees or experiences themselves. This can be a confining situation. Also, if not done well, it can be as exciting as hearing the roll called in class during a famous 80’s movie about skipping school (if you do not get this reference, you probably just need to stop reading my blog now).

So which should you use? Try both! Write two different beginnings to your story: one with third person the other with first person. See which one flows best. Ask yourself if either style is going to prevent you from being able to tell your story or possibly make a character less appreciated. Whatever you do, get opinions from other people! You are writing for an audience, not just for yourself. Remember, whether you choose he and she or I, it needs to be because you think it will help your story. Don’t do it because it’s the current trend. Trends always die. Good writing is forever.

P.S. If you choose first person, remember that the narrator can be more than just a storyteller. You can make them a friend.

P.P.S. If you chose third person, there is still a lot that you can hide from your readers. God’s-eye view doesn’t mean that you have to reveal everything!

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