Thursday, September 03, 2009

First or Third?

As you may have noticed yesterday, one of the prizes was a digital download of "After The Kiss" my latest release, which is sort of a companion short story to Moon Kissed. It revisits the hero and heroine six months after they fell happily ever after. [Click on links to read first chapters from both books.]

I did something a little different with this short story. Actually, I didn't purposefully set out to do it, it just sort of happened. I wrote it in first person, from both the hero and heroine's POV. I've written one other story (Getaway Girl) where the heroine was in first and the villain/hero was in third. In this new story, both characters wanted to be heard from, in their own particular manner.

On another loop we've been discussing the readers' likes and dislikes for first person. The majority, it seems, don't really care for first. They like the immediacy, the being inside the person's head, but they want to see more than just that one person's POV. I can understand that. Especially in romance, it is important we get inside both the hero and heroine's head. We may identify with the heroine (if we are girls; boyz, you can identify with the hero) but we can handle being inside a man's head, and want to know what he's thinking as he's falling in love.

So let's chat Point Of View today. Do you absolutely abhor first for romances? What if both characters were given a POV in first, would that be cool? What about mixing POVs? One person in first, another in third. Or how about the all-seeing omniscient?

What are some examples of great first POV you've read lately?


Kylie said...

That sounds intriguing, Michele!

Oddly enough, I'd rather be first person in the villain's head than anyone else, LOL. Simply because I have more of a need to understand him and his motivations.

I sometimes find it jarring when writers move from first in one character then third in another. It's not always a smooth transition for me. I'd be interested to read first pov from both major characters...if I've read that before I can't recall it right now.

I think first pov works much better in a novella. Some people have a killer first person voice for their character, which is fun. But if the character isn't as strong, he/she can't carry the book without me getting tired of him/her.

I recall Linda Howard's three books with first person for the female character, who was a fitness owner or something. The character herself was soooo annoying that after being in her head for a while I just wanted to bitch slap her, LOL.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Michele. Congrats on your new release. Love the covers H/S is creating for you.

I'm on the fence on first person POV. Very few writers can pull it off and keep me engaged. It's something I've thought about doing myself but in the end I always chicken out because I don't think I can do 1st pov justice. And I'd probably get bored, staying in on character's head all the time.

GunDiva said...

For me, POV doesn't matter as long as it's well written. I've read books in 1st person that were amazing and some that were absolutely awful; I've had the same experience with 3rd person. The skill of the writer really plays a huge part in which POV they can pull off. I can't say that I gravitate toward one or the other - if it's a poorly written book, it's poorly written and changing the POV won't matter.

Just my early morning two-cents worth...

Candace said...

First, third, or multiple POV doesn’t matter to me. If the story engages me, I don’t notice who’s “telling” it.

That said, some of my favorite romances are written in first person. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is mostly first person. At least, the bits from Claire’s perspective are first-person. I think.

Jan Cox Speas’ three romances (Bride of the MacHugh, My Lord Monleigh, and My Love, My Enemy) were all first person, too. At least, I remember them as being told in first person. Lovely books. They are out of print but I have tattered paperback copies of all three. Then there’s Jacqueline La Tourrette’s A Matter of Sixpence (also out of print), a first person narrative of a na├»ve young tavern wench who thinks she’s sold her soul to the devil for a sixpence, only he turns out to be a lord in disguise. It was one of the best, most joyous “deflowering” scenes I’ve ever read. But I digress.

It might interest some of the newer (post 1990) writers to know that back in the day, Harlequin guidelines required a third person viewpoint but only from the heroine’s POV, which made it (to my way of thinking) essentially a first person narrative. As a writer, you absolutely could not delve into the hero’s POV at all. I think the rationale for that was that it increased story tension if you couldn’t see into the hero’s mind. By my second book for them (1986) they had relaxed that rule.

Helen Brenna said...

Done well, I really enjoy first person, but wouldn't want a steady diet of it.

I'm pretty sure I've read a Barbara Samuel book that was written first person from several different character's povs. Loved it, but you stayed in the same person's pov for the entire scene.

I've heard about other books that are written first person plural where the reader is in several povs at the same time. That, I think, would drive me nutsy!

Kathleen Eagle said...

I agree--as most have said--if it's done well in first person, I'm there. But so many 1st person POV books have lost me early on, which means for this reader, it wasn't done well enough to hook me and keep me hooked. I think it's really tricky.

I read OUTLANDER beginning to end, but it had its flaws. I couldn't buy the scene where the hero tells the heroine every detail of his being raped. It was supposed to be his catharsis, but I couldn't see him telling her all that. It was the only way to get all the gory details in, and I thought it was gratuitous. It destroyed the character for me.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I thought thought Pat Gaffney's SAVING GRACES worked very well in multiple first person POV. I don't know whether she intended some voices to be much stronger than others--one in particular--that was the only drawback, I thought.

One 1st person that works really well is SILENT IN THE GRAVE. I'll have to look up the author's name. It was her first book, and it's excellent. It's a series--big, fat historical suspense--and I waited for the second book with baited breath. The second book was a disappointment. I was SO upset about that.

Another interesting use of POV--Love Walked In Or In Walked Love--something like that. It switches back and forth between 1st and 3rd. The heroine--1st person--is a strong character. The chapters from the other main character's POV--a child--worked well.

For me--and this is what I tell students in my Loft class--if it works, great. The reader, like the customer, is always right. It just doesn't work for me very often.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I (respectfully) looked up the titles and authors. SILENT IN THE GRAVE, Deanna Raybourn (excellent book). LOVE WALKED IN, Marisa de los Santos (also very good).

Michele Hauf said...

How could I have forgotten Gabaldon's books? Love them, though I still think I haven't read the last one (and she's got a new one coming out soon!).

I think I prefer first for short stories. Having written one full-length I think I didn't know any better at the time, and just went with it. Having done that, not so sure I'd write a full-length one again. I have trouble with tense in first person, and those are most frequent corrections in my edits.

I was thinking about Burn Notice. That's got the first-person narrative by Michael Weston. And the Burn Notice books are different in that they are first person, and even when its just a scene with say, Sam or Fiona, the scene is told from Michael's POV, like he's still narrating. It was kind of jarring the first time I read that.

Minna said...

POV doesn’t matter to me, either.

Janga said...

In the hands of the right writer, anything can work. I can't imagine, for example, Barbara Samuel writing a book I didn't like. When first person is well written, I like it a great deal. The connection between character and reader feels more intimate to me. But when it is not done well, as is often the case, the books tend to be DNFs.

Kristan Higgins writes in first-person, and I love her books.

MsHellion said...

I love 1st person because of how deep the POV is and how much I feel like I know and understand the character; but I have also loved 3rd person POV and some have been as deep as a 1st person POV can be.

I do not care for all-seeing omniscient--that's too far removed. I depend of POV to feel close to the character.

Weird this is today's topic. I'm reading Alicia Rasley's book about POV. *LOL*

susan said...

I can read either kind but lately have been in books by 1st wasn't planned just happened that way. I like a book as long as it holds y interest so any way it is writtenis fine with me.

Lisa Hendrix said...

I prefer 3rd person POV. But a master of 1st person (think Victoria Holt or Elizabeth Peters) can hold me.

Vivi Anna said...

I don't care just as long as I'm engaged in the story. It could be from ten different POV's, think The Stand by Stephen King or Swan's Song by Robert McCammon, both brilliant BTW, and I'm fine as long as I want to go on the ride with these characters.

I love 1st person though. I think just about all my favorite series are done in 1st.

But I read more UF than romance.

Debra Dixon said...

You know, I like a mix of POV and I don't mind if that mix includes 1st person and third or if the mix is simply two or more characters in 1st or two or more characters in third.

I mixed 1st person and 3rd person in the short story COYOTE RUN.

Stephanie Draven said...

I prefer first! I'm weird.

Helen Brenna said...

Saving Graces! Yes, Kathy, that's the book I was thinking of. It was Pat Gaffney, not Barbara Samuel. Loved PG's book!

Michele Hauf said...

Vivi brings up something interesting. Maybe from genre to genre the POV changes. UF is more often than not written in 1st.

Has anyone noticed a dominant POV in other genres?

Betina Krahn said...

I've never been a big fan of 1st person books-- especially romances. I need to be in the hero's head in order to really enjoyit. I've only read one historical 1st person that I loved-- and that was 20 years ago.

However, when Bridget Jones and chick Lit came out, I kindof fell in love with the flip, often funny 1st person stuff and now I'm much more open to it. I think it works well in SciFi and Fantasy and many paranormals. Omniscient seems awfully impersonal to me these days. . . and I like a more intimate peek inside the character's head. Deep Third, I've heard it called.

But honestly-- echoing other sentiments here-- if it's a well written book it can draw me in no matter what the POV.

Hey, I'm easy.