Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

NaNo Prep Tip# 3: Point of View October 28, 2011

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 1:56 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Just a few more days until NaNo starts. I’m already having second thoughts – I already have too  much homework. What will happen if I fail? – but that’s part of the experience. You just force a smile and keep on going, using the idea of utter humiliation as a motivator.

A good thing to know before you start your book is what point of view you’re going to be writing in. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

First person limited: All you can see/hear/know/understand is filtered through the head of one person. This helps readers connect to a character faster, but it limits you. If there’s some crucial piece of information that the character doesn’t know but the reader should, you’re stuck. Some authors make up for this by doing the cursed split POV story, which I shall never speak of again. Another shortcoming is that if the character thinks too much, is rather dull, or whines a lot, readers might get sick of it and put the book down, as they have no escape. This is best for a character with a strong, original voice.

First person omniscient: Very rare, unless the character in question is a mind reader or some sort of outside observer. The only example I’ve seen is The Book Thief. It’s a tricky POV to do well.

Second person: Choose your own adventure style. I’ve seen bits of it used in Cry, The Beloved Country, but usually this POV is just tacky.

Third person limited: The most common type of narration. Think Harry Potter. It’s not told as ‘I’, but we only hear the thoughts of one character. This allows the writer more room to maneuver, but still gives the reader someone to focus on.

Third person omniscient: The narrator can see into all the character’s though processes at will. We usually don’t see all of them at once, but jump around. Think Runemarks. This allows the reader to know things one character may not, which comes in handy if some of the characters are idiots.  However, it’s generally best to still focus on one person, so we get an idea of a central character.

Mix it up: Is one POV not enough? Do several. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, after all, switches between third person limited and first person limited (with occasionally breaches of the fourth wall). First person books might occasionally step outward to third person for behind the scenes action.

That’s all for POVs. But as an additional bit of NaNo prep – now is a good time to notify your friends/family/significant other that you may not be around much next month. Also, stake a claim on a computer. I informed my family of which one I would use. If necessary, claim it by setting up residence there, creating clever booby traps, or leaving scent marks. (In perfume – what did you think I meant?) However you do it, make sure you have access to a word processor. In a few days, you’ll be needing it.



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