Pointing the View

I recently had Thoughts on point of view, based on a writer buddy’s questions about differences between using first and third person, and single versus multiple points of view.

I think a big difference between using a single point of view in first and third persons is voice. In first person, the narrator’s voice needs to be really strong, really consistent. In third, “your” (the author’s) voice can be a little more dominant, depending on how close a third you’re writing. I realize they’re both your voice, but in my opinion, your voice is more subsumed into character in first than in third.

Here’s my take on the difference through examples. In first, the reader feels what the character feels (my heart froze). In third, the reader sees what the character is doing from the outside (she crushed the flowers beneath her heel); it’s more show and less tell, even though you can tell to some degree (She felt awful.)

You can get some good fun for the reader out of the first person narrator not realizing/figuring out stuff that the reader might understand/figure out (for instance, when a child narrator is witnessing his parents fighting; we know one of them is having an affair, but the kid thinks it’s about the last slice of pie). Ditto third because the reader gets to figure out what’s going on from the clues presented, just as the character is doing. You can increase or decrease the mysteries the reader has to solve by how you present information to her.

I’m going to ponder this further. Any thoughts?

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
This entry was posted in writing craft. Bookmark the permalink.