Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Eleni Papanou – What is the Ideal Point of View? @elenipapanou

What is the Ideal Point of View?

by Eleni Papanou

I’ve read many articles about point of view and have noticed particularly strong opinions against first person. Conventional wisdom seems to favor third person. I’ve visited some forums where people have stated openly that they won’t read a book if it’s in first person. A new author might find such an opinion confusing. Believing one point of view is preferred over another is destructive as it disrupts the creative process. If you limit yourself to third person, you inject a bias into your story before you even begin to write it. To write the most organic first draft, to me, means allowing it to present itself as it should be told rather than by forcing my prejudices into it.

A writer’s goal should be to write the story the best way it could be told. Deciding on a point of view should wait until you know how you want to present the story to the reader. I’m not sure how it would work for a pantser, but as an outliner, I know how my story looks from the beginning, middle to end. By the time I complete my outline, I know exactly which voice I have to use.

My second book, Jessie’s Song, started off as a screenplay. Most of the scenes revolved around the protagonist, Markos Adams. There were several other scenes where he wasn’t present, which made me believe I should write the novel in third person. However, several pages in I noticed it wasn’t flowing well. I needed an unreliable narrator to make the story work more effectively, so I went back and switched over to first person. I had to take out the scenes Markos wasn’t in, which took a lot of reworking. It was worth the effort. The transition felt natural, and the narrative started to flow. Markos’s personality came to life. His attitude, confusion, way of viewing the world through music, and love for his family felt more personal and true to me. I also felt the emotions on a deeper level than when it was in third person. I thought it was important for the reader to hear Markos tell the story using his own words. I felt such a strong connection to him, I even wrote some poetry using his voice.

When I first wrote Jessie’s Song, I intended it to be a standalone book, but Markos felt so real to me, I mused over writing him into a series. After my editor had made a similar comment, I started to take the idea seriously. It wasn’t until very recently that I committed to giving Markos Adams another book to continue his story. With a series in the planning, I had the painful task to remove a very well written prologue and epilogue. Those darlings were hard to kill but kill them I did because I saw the bigger picture. Markos Adams will continue!

In conclusion, there’s no ideal point of view. Making the decision as to what voice you’ll use will depend on the type of story you’re writing. If you can think of it that way, the story will flow out unrestrained, and the writing process will feel more natural.


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Genre - Paranormal Mystery

Rating – PG13

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